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Leverage pedagogical technology for engagement and active learning at Fort Hays State University

Nhi Nguyen
|
August 14, 2023
DOMAIN
Language
Class Size
4 – 20
Instructor Workload
Learner Workload
ABOUT THE INSTITUTION

Fort Hays State University, founded in 1902, is a public university where faculty and staff share a deep commitment to teaching and mentoring students. FHSU’s mission is to develop the engaged global citizen-leaders the world needs. The institution consistently ranks among the top regional universities in the American Midwest. A remarkable 95% of FHSU students secure jobs or higher education opportunities after they graduate.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR(S)

Hongbiao Zeng is a professor at the Computer Science Department of FHSU. He has been teaching Math and Computer Science courses as well as consulting science undergraduate students.

Sharon Graham is an instructor at the Department of English at FHSU. As an experienced English Instructor with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry, Sharon is in charge of several modules such as Composition, English as a Second/Foreign Language, Intercultural Studies, Distance Education.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTION

Fort Hays State University, founded in 1902, is a public university where faculty and staff share a deep commitment to teaching and mentoring students. FHSU’s mission is to develop the engaged global citizen-leaders the world needs. The institution consistently ranks among the top regional universities in the American Midwest. A remarkable 95% of FHSU students secure jobs or higher education opportunities after they graduate.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR(S)

Hongbiao Zeng is a professor at the Computer Science Department of FHSU. He has been teaching Math and Computer Science courses as well as consulting science undergraduate students.

Sharon Graham is an instructor at the Department of English at FHSU. As an experienced English Instructor with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry, Sharon is in charge of several modules such as Composition, English as a Second/Foreign Language, Intercultural Studies, Distance Education.

Context

After a successful pilot, Fort Hays State University (FHSU) decided to embark on a campus-wide implementation with FeedbackFruits tools, focusing on peer and group assessment.

Here is the story of how FHSU utilized FeedbackFruits’ solutions to elevate the peer feedback process and stimulate collaborative learning, and what encouraged FHSU to let FeedbackFruits be a supporter in achieving their pedagogical goals.

Constructive alignment

Seeking the tools to support active learning and group assessment

With five colleges and 31 departments that offer more than 60 academic majors for undergraduates and 20 for graduate students, Fort Hays State University (FHSU) has established itself as one of the top regional universities in the American Midwest. At FHSU, there has been a long-standing recognition of, and need for enhancing student engagement, peer/group assessment, and collaborative skills. While group work helps foster collaborative learning and stimulates real-world skills, peer and group feedback allows students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of content and develop the ability to critically evaluate their peers. At the same time, continuous student engagement promotes a deeper understanding of the content and self-autonomy throughout the learning process.

Fort Hays State University has a large number of online students and instructors and instructional designers have found it challenging to create well-designed and easy to manage activities for interactions, group work, and feedback in their courses, due to the lack  of available tools. There was an urgent need for a suitable pedagogical solution for streamlined peer and group assessments, while also simplifying course management. After an extensive search and review of several products, FHSU decided to adopt the FeedbackFruits solutions due to their capacity for streamlining both engagement and feedback activities.

In June 2021, the FHSU faculties entered into a one-semester pilot, in which the Group Member Evaluation and Interactive Study Materials tools were used to support the learning design.

The pilot was a success, as shown by a critical enhancement of student engagement. By the end of the implementation, there was a growth of around 80% in the number of active students from the middle till the end of the pilot, with over 4,480 feedback ratings and nearly 1102 comments exchanged within the FeedbackFruits peer and group assessment activities. These statistics suggest that students were highly engaged.

After such a successful pilot period, the FHSU team agreed on a 2-year partnership with the implementation of all FeedbackFruits tools.

Commenting on the decision to partner with FeedbackFruits, Andrew Feldstein, Assistant Provost for Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies said:

“While there is general recognition that peer review and group assessment activities are valuable pedagogical tools, coordinating and managing those activities is challenging at best. Whether it’s peer review, group member evaluation, or one of the tools that facilitate student interaction with course content, Feedback Fruits does the heavy lifting of providing a structure and workflow for those activities and guiding students through the assignments. This leaves instructors free to spend more time substantively interacting with students rather than managing assignment logistics.”

Enhance student engagement, interactions, and better performance with FeedbackFruits

To understand how the FHSU faculties have been using FeedbackFruits solutions, we interviewed several instructors who shared their valuable experience with the tools.

For her first year English and Composition course at FHSU, instructor Sharon Graham used the Automated Feedback, Peer Review, and Self Assessment tools to provide quality feedback on students’ writing, at the same time encouraging them to critically reflect on others’ work and that of themselves. Overall, Sharon found the tools to be easy to use, which saved her plenty of time in setting up the activities and getting students to use them. She especially enjoyed Automated Feedback, which generates instant formative feedback on students’ technical writing aspects like grammar, reference, or spelling. While each student receives timely, personalized feedback to improve their work, the instructor can delegate more time to reflect on higher-order writing skills namely argumentation and reasoning. Sharon also remarked on the fact that her students responded positively to the peer feedback option in particular, finding the setup to be helpful and user-friendly.

Students receive instant, formative feedback on their writing in Automated Feedback tool
Students receive instant, formative feedback on their writing in Automated Feedback tool

Hongbiao Zeng, Professor at the Computer Science department has also been using FeedbackFruits tools, particularly Interactive Video to increase student engagement with the concepts presented in the video materials. Professor Zeng noted:

“I want to do something exciting to motivate my students. In other words, a more advanced, technical, and fun way for my students engage students in the cryptographic concepts.”

For his 15-week course on Introduction to Cryptography, Professor Zeng used a total of 17 videos across 9 modules to deliver the course content. To make sure the students actually watch the videos, he used the Interactive Video tool to add questions and discussion points throughout the videos and required learners to respond to these. The introduction video and detailed activity description in the course syllabus were developed to help students understand and know how to use the new tool.

Professor Zeng also enjoyed the user-friendly interface of FeedbackFruits solutions, which helped shorten the learning curve for both instructor and students.

Instructors enrich the videos with questions and discussions points for students to respond in Interactive Video
Instructors enrich the videos with questions and discussions points for students to respond in Interactive Video

Maximizing the impact of pedagogical technology

When asked what the instructors would do differently regarding the use of FeedbackFruits in their next course, Sharon said she would definitely make use of the deadline setting function to set due dates and reminders for her students.

For Professor Zeng, the configurable grading functionality is something he would activate for his next course. With this feature, he can assign grade weighting to each video activity, which accounts for 17% of the total mark if the students complete all the videos.

Ensuring a robust long-term partnership

We at FeedbackFruits are honored to be a collaborative partner of FHSU, a school that supports faculties in innovating pedagogy and reaching their educational goals. We expect great outcomes from this partnership and are eager to keep contributing to the institution’s mission.

Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Sharon and Hongbiao. We loved learning about their thoughtful perspectives on lifelong skills, along with your deep insights on technology evaluation and adoption.

Besides Fort Hays State University, FeedbackFruits is collaborating with over 100 institutions worldwide to address educational challenges and cultivate a quality higher education. Read more about the fruits of our collaborative efforts in our success stories.

More food for thought

We also collaborated with FHSU on a webinar about “Future-Proof Digital Teaching and Learning Ecosystems: How to personalize online learning in higher education”, where Andrew Feldstein – Associate Provost for Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies reflected on how evidence-based pedagogical technology can help universities establish robust, personalized online learning ecosystems and deepen their pedagogical offerings.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Notable outcomes

Possible variation

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Recommended use cases

Leiden University utilizes FeedbackFruits Competency-Based Assessment solution to track competencies of students

Imperial College London utilizes FeedbackFruits to elevate self and peer assessment process for the students

Texas A&M University School of Public Health decided on a campus-wide adoption of the FeedbackFruits tool suite to enhance student engagement and implement authentic assessment.

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