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SEED projects 2019 – A new Canvas for teaching and learning

A New Canvas: Piloting the use of an integrated Canvas app to increase the use of formative feedback in large Bioscience classes

Dr Kathryn JonesDr Kathryn Jones (Faculty of Science)

I coordinate and teach in three large molecular biology papers at Stage 2 in the School of Biological Sciences where I have noted the lack of feedback for students on their learning, as reflected in their SET evaluation scores on feedback. Students only have past tests and exams to help them revise; additional study resources that are not aligned to the lecture material are only made available if the students purchase an e-text. I trialled the Canvas quizzes for my module of lectures in BIOSCI 201 (Cellular and Molecular Biology) but this proved frustrating as the set-up is not user-friendly and it lacked adaptive quizzing features. Although BIOSCI 201 uses an external quizzing system for feedback, it is not linked to Canvas which results in administrative issues, with students reporting that they do not use it for those reasons.

Canvas has an option of linking in external apps to promote the functionality of the learning management system. Macmillian Learning has an app that can link an adaptive quizzing programme, called Launchpad or Sapling, directly into Canvas. From this app, I have created revision assignments directly aligned to my teaching material to give students immediate formative feedback on their learning. Multiple hints were offered, explanations to why answers were correct or incorrect, and links to the e-text. I was also able to adapt the questions to how the students are learning. Students access it through Canvas single sign-on, it is linked to Gradebook and one click away from the module lecture information.

The majority of students reported that the use of the app improved their understanding, learning and engagement in the lecture material. The academic head of the School of Biological sciences has indicated an interest to invest in this area of teaching due to the benefits for students and teachers.