Group Assignments – Are they worth the hassle?

Having students work in groups is an effective teaching strategy. It gives students the opportunity to practice formulating and expressing ideas, evaluating the ideas of others, building consensus, and other collaborative skills applicable to both the classroom and the workplace. It gives instructors the opportunity to challenge students with more complex and authentic assessments that more accurately gauge their achievement of course learning objectives. It also reduces the number of submissions an instructor must grade and ideally, they are of higher quality than individual work. On the downside, group assignments take more planning and time to properly design and deploy in Canvas. Let’s review some of the best practices to consider for group assignments in Canvas.

Why make an assignment a group activity?
  Reduce Number of Student Submission to Grade: If you are just looking to reduce the number of submissions you must grade that’s fine, but there are upfront costs. First and foremost, you will need to ensure your students have the skills required to make groupwork a positive learning activity and not an exercise in frustration for all concerned.
  Develop Student Collaboration Skills: If developing collaboration skills is a course objective, then so much the better. If not, you’ll need to evaluate whether committing learning time and effort away from the core of your course is worth the benefits of group work. For a major course assignment like a capstone project, developing group work skills in your students may be time well spent.

How will you grade the group submission?
  All Group Members Receive the Same Grade: This is fastest, but not always equitable.
  Group Members Graded Individually: If you do this, you’ll need to determine how well each student contributed to the group submission. This can be accomplished simply by having each group member identify their portion of the submission.  Alternately, you can have group members rate their peers.
    Peer Evaluation: This will require that you ensure your students can do a fair and accurate peer evaluation and how much weight that evaluation will count towards a student’s assessment. You’ll need to decide how often students evaluate their group peers. If it is only when the final product is submitted, students are denied the chance to respond to the feedback they receive. Periodic peer assessment will benefit your students more than a single review, but it will complicate your grading. You may even want to consider the quality of the peer evaluations a student does in their performance assessment.  Check out this Self and Peer Evaluation Tool for Group Work

How will handle group enrollment?
Canvas Random Enrollment: Having Canvas create the group membership is easiest and fastest but can create less than optimum groups.
  Student Self-Enrollment: Letting the students self-enroll can create problems with peer assessment if friends enroll in the same group.
  Manual Enrollment: When instructors manually create group membership, they can create groups with complementary skills and experience. Of course, instructors need to get to know their students first with something like a skills survey or an introduction forum.
Fixed or static groups? If you’ve got multiple group assignments in your course, you can have the same groups of students work together on all of them. This has the advantage of students getting to know each other well and build effective working relationships. On the other hand, changing the members in the group gives students the opportunity to get to know more of their classmates well and experience more diversity in their learning. The Group Set feature in Canvas makes mixing up your groups easier to manage.

Group work is not something to be ventured into lightly. Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t mean group work is right for your course. There are definite advantages to using group work, but there are always challenges associated with higher-level learning opportunities. You should consider whether the time investment associated with developing group assignments, preparing your students for group work, and setting up the groups in Canvas will pay dividends in improved student learning. You may decide that your subject matter is not well suited for group work or that your students will not benefit sufficiently to make group work worthwhile.

If you’d liked to talk about group work with a member of the Coulter Faculty Common, click here to schedule a consultation.

Canvas Group Work and Collaboration 02.2020. (n.d.). Google Docs. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sAlBPafDCYN6SOSVz-3PUQFt5VkrtNskUd63m2mmT8A/edit?usp=sharing&usp=embed_facebook
Collaborative Learning. (n.d.). [Higher Education]. Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation. Retrieved June 21, 2021, from https://teaching.cornell.edu/teaching-resources/engaging-students/collaborative-learning
Forslund Frykedal, K., & Hammar Chiriac, E. (2018). Student Collaboration in Group Work: Inclusion as Participation. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education, 65(2), 183–198. https://doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2017.1363381
Why work in Groups? (n.d.). University of Birmingham. Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/metallurgy-materials/about/cases/group-work/why.aspx

UPDATED LOCATION! WCU welcomes Keynote Speaker, Dr. Kevin Gannon for Teaching & Learning Day

Join us in person for a day of learning and discussion on Inclusive Pedagogy!

When: Teaching & Learning Day, is scheduled for Friday, August 13, 2021.

Where: Forsyth 101

Date: Aug 13, 2021

Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Dr. Kevin Gannon, author of Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto and a frequent contributor to The Chronicle of Higher education, will present the keynote, A Pedagogy of Hope for the Post-Pandemic ‘Normal’.

Following the keynote, he will facilitate an interactive workshop on Inclusive Pedagogy from Theory to Practice. We will reassemble in the afternoon to gather in small groups to explore what Inclusive Pedagogy looks like in our teaching.

This event is sponsored by the Coulter Faculty Commons, Hunter Library, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs.

 

WCU welcomes Keynote Speaker, Dr. Kevin Gannon for Teaching & Learning Day

Join us in person for a day of learning and discussion on Inclusive Pedagogy!

When: Teaching & Learning Day, is scheduled for Friday, August 13, 2021.

Where: Forsyth 101

Date: Aug 13, 2021

Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Dr. Kevin Gannon, author of Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto who will present the keynote, A Pedagogy of Hope for the Post-Pandemic ‘Normal’.  Following the keynote, he will facilitate an interactive workshop on Inclusive Pedagogy from Theory to Practice. We will reassemble in the afternoon to gather in small groups to explore what Inclusive Pedagogy looks like in our teaching.

This event is sponsored by the Coulter Faculty Commons, Hunter Library, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs.

 

Canvas Course Analytics and Quiz Statistics

Canvas offers instructors some incredibly powerful tools to view course analytics, individual student analytics and quiz statistics.

The wealth of information provides instructors with a comprehensive view of student engagement as well as insight into areas for improvement and redesign.

Course Analytics using New Analytics

Learning how to use Course Analytics in Canvas is essential to those Instructors primarily using Canvas to teach online. The information provided in New Analytics will guide instructors to better understand overall participation and engagement from their students. With New Anayltics, Canvas also offers the ability to recognize positive and negative trends to make improvements and adjustments to course quality; easily identifying those students who are struggling, problematic items or areas in your course that may need adjustment.

New Analytics provides:

  • Student Analytics using New Analytics

In Canvas the analytics shown for each student can give instructors valuable insight about engagement, activity, and performance. Canvas’ ability to view individual student analytics allows instructors to disemminate

For more detailed information review the Canvas guides for New Analytics and “How to view Course Analytics?”
Where to access New Analytics
New Analytics main screen

     

    Quiz Statistics

    Another feature provided to instrucors using quizzing in Canvas are quiz statistics. The feature is available to instructors when a quiz has been published and at least one submission has been recieved for the quiz. The quiz summary will show all score percentages as well as the quiz average score, high score, low score, standard deviation (how far the values are spread across the entire score range), and average time of quiz completion. Instructors can view and download a CSV file to view a Student Analysis or Item Analysis for each question in the quiz. 

    Available info from Quiz Statistics:

    1. Student/Item Analysis – Instructors caDownload CSV files to view Student Analysis or Item Analysis for each quiz question to count all student attempts in the statistics.
    2. Quiz Item Analysis – Item analysis may not generate results within specific quizzes. For more detailed information about item analysis limitations and calculations please refer to the Quiz Item Analysis PDF for detailed information about Reliability, Difficulty, and Item Discrimination Index.
    3. Question Summary – Instructors can view an entire quiz summary that shows all score percentages. The quiz summary also shows the quiz average score, high score, low score, standard deviation (how far the values are spread across the entire score range), and average time of quiz completion.
    4. Question Summary Chart – The quiz summary chart is interactive; users can focus on a specific segment of the chart by selecting a range with their cursor, such as viewing the number of students who scored between 0 and 50 percent. Scroll down the page to see data for each question in the quiz.
    5. Question Breakdown  – Quiz question shows the total percentage of students who answered the quiz question correctly. Each question includes a breakdown with each question answer choice.
    For more detailed information review the Canvas guide for “Once I publish a quiz, what kinds of quiz statistics are available?”

    To access Quiz Statistics, Click the “Quizzes” link in your Course Navigation menu, then click the title of the quiz you would like to open. On the right sidebar click “Quiz Statistics”. 

    Quiz Statistics Sample

    Listen to how Dr. Viji Sathy and Dr. Kelly Hogan, instructors at UNC – Chapel Hill are using the insight provided by their LMS to redesign courses for inclusion, encouraging student success while reducing achievement gaps. We hope this inspires you to explore the possibilities with our LMS by using New Analytics in Canvas when redesigning your course while applying Universal Design for Learning and inclusion best practices for all student success.

    How does this align to Canvas training materials?

    Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: 7.0 Module Overview: Universal Design for Learning

     


    Additional Resources:

    Visit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles. 

    First Day Ready in Canvas

    Instructors at WCU will be teaching in Canvas beginning in summer 2021 and beyond. 

    WCU faculty will be teaching in Canvas beginning in summer 2021 and beyond. One of the major differences between Blackboard and Canvas, as far as courses go, is a feature in Canvas called Publishing.

    publish course button in Canvas

    Faculty will need to publish their course in order for students to access the content, and it’s a simple as clicking a button in their course. This is equivalent to making the course Available in Blackboard. When you look at your Canvas Dashboard, if the course tile has a button in the upper left corner that says Publish, then is not available to your students. Click on that button and you’ll be prompted to set a Home Page – the place your students will see first when they enter the course (equivalent to Blackboard Entry Point). Click on Choose and Publish and your students will be able to see your course. How do I publish a course?


    unpublish and publish button in Canvas

    Each item within your course will need to be Published as well. If there is circle with slash through it in the upper right corner of an item, it isn’t visible to your students. A green circle with a check means the item is available (visible to students). You can click on the button to toggle between Published and Unpublished (useful if you find discover you need to make an edit). How do I publish a module?


    Canvas course navigation menu

    The course menu (all items, top to bottom, in the left navigation menu) should only show a few links/options. This improves student navigation and what is often called ”findability.” Course resources can be Disabled (the Blackboard equivalent of made unavailable to students) in the Navigation tab under Settings. You can drag them to the bottom window on the Navigation tab or click on the three-dot menu and select Disable. Disabled items will be designated by the eye with a slash through it.


    It is a best practice to be as consistent as possible in the layout of your modules. That way, as your students move through your course they know where to expect to find resources, assignments, and other activities. In fact, according to one study about online students, “findability is paramount – if they cannot find important course components, they cannot ‘use’ them; having to search for assignment instructions or a course introduction may likely result in frustration, lowered motivation, and decreased self-efficacy — all of which could impact both student learning and course attrition” (Simunich, Robins, & Kelly 2015). Take a look at the SUNY OSCQR rubric where it addresses usability in Standard 13.


     

    Accessibility

    Canvas Accessibility Standards

    When you are in a Canvas course you will see the spectacles button in the upper right corner. Clicking on it will take you to a student’s view of your course. It is highly recommended that you check your course in the student view to make sure that the course is being presented in the way you intended. How do I view a course as a student?

    Review the article “The Impact of Findability on Student Motivation, Self-Efficacy, and Perceptions of Online Course Quality” for more information about course readiness on day one.

    First Day Ready-Canvas Training Services Portal-Learning PathwayThe Training Services Portal Learning Pathway: “Higher Education: First Day Ready”

    This course will walk you through the process of creating a Canvas LMS course so that you can be first day ready. This course will cover how to create a Home Page, utilize Modules, and access Student View to ensure your course is “first day ready” (To access, Login to Canvas: Select “Help” from the Global menu in Canvas click “Training Services Portal”)

    How does this align to Canvas training materials?

    Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: Module 5: Content: How can I make, find, and use online resources?, Module 6: Structuring the Course: How do I put it all together and explain it to my students?, Module 7: Universal Design for Learning and Module 8: Accessibility: How can I help my students who use assistive technology?

     


    Additional Resources:

    • Visit canvas.wcu.edu 
    • Contact the 24/7 Canvas Help if you need help with issues as you are working in Canvas. (NOTE: 24/7 Canvas Help goes away on June 30 and Help will be taken over by the WCU Helpdesk which is not manned 24/7). 
    • Canvas Migration FAQ
    • Register for one of the Zoom sessions which will be held on Thursdays and Fridays at 11:00 A.M. after reviewing the Priming the Canvas Course. This week’s sessions will cover Discussions in Canvas as well as How to release content conditionally in Canvas.

    Our next article will highlight Course Analytics and Statistics in Canvasvisit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles. 

    Canvas Implementation Core Integrations

    One of the reasons that WCU chose Canvas was for the shift in student engagement and consumption of media using mobile devices.  The best way to design your courses is, of course, using your computer, but your students will appreciate efforts to make the course more engaging, immediate, and easy to access. 

    Canvas has two apps for smart devices, the Canvas Student App, and the Canvas Teacher App. As an instructor, you will use the teacher app most of the time.  It will allow you to do many of the things that you can do in the full web-browser but will be more accessiblePilot faculty report that using the Speed-grader function on their tablets is especially convenient. With the Teacher app you can keep track of the progress of your course and interact with students. 

    Most instructors will also want to download the Canvas Student App if only for the fact that when the Teacher app is accessing a common element with both Apps, it will open the student app to give the most accurate representation of the student’s view. 

    At WCU, the Panopto video storage and streaming platform is also integrated into Canvas and for full video functionality both you and your students should download the Panopto app. In the same manner downloading, installing, and logging into your Microsoft Outlook App, the Microsoft Teams App, and the Microsoft OneDrive App will add even more functionality to both of your Canvas Apps. 

    Canvas Teacher App

    Canvas Teacher App

    Canvas ToDo List

    Canvas ToDo List

    Settings in the Canvas App

    Settings

    Canvas Speedgrader on IPad or Tablet

    Canvas SpeedGrader on IPad or Tablet 

     

    App Capabilities and Limitations 

    With the Canvas Teacher App, You Can:

      • View Your Course Materials 
      • Email Students 
      • Email Photos and Audio Clips to Your Students from Your Phone
      • Do basic grading of Assignments, Quizzes, Tests and Discussions 
      • Add simple text pages to existing Canvas modules 
      • Create spontaneous non-graded group discussions 

    Your students can use the App to:

      • Send and reply to course messages 
      • Record and submit short audio and video clips to discussions and assignments 
      • Attach files to discussions and assignments from devices and from OneDrive (if installed) 
      • Take quizzes (low stakes – will not work with Respondus Lockdown or Monitor)

    Meeting students where they live often encourages deeper engagement with subject matter.

    In Canvas you can encourage the use of mobile apps to help the students:

    • Remain engaged with your course and activities 
    • Get reminders of due dates and upcoming meetings 
    • Access course material in a variety of environments 
    • Remain more organized and use their time and resources wisely 

    While the basic Canvas layout and the full use of Canvas tools like the calendar, the syllabus tool, and modules will help make your Canvas course more mobile friendly, there are ways to improve it more.  A travel or experiential learning class, for example, might want to adjust all the online material in such a way that it could all be accomplished on cell phones. 

    Canvas has a special guide for optimizing courses for mobile work. 

    We also urge faculty to use caution when using the app to build courses.  It is best to start on a full computer browser.  The app does not allow you to create quizzes or exams, to add graded discussions, to create a module or group, or to create or modify a rubric

    DOWNLOAD APPS

    Download and Install the Canvas Teacher App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
    Download and Install the Canvas Student App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
    Download and Install the Newest Panopto App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
    Download and Install the Newest MS Outlook App on Your Phone and/or TabletiPhone/iPad, Android
    Download and Install the Newest Microsoft Teams App on Your Phone and/or TabletiPhone/iPad, Android

    Encourage your students to download the Student App, the Panopto App, the Zoom and/or MS Teams App, and the OneDrive app for full functionality. 


     

    There are Additional Training Courses About Mobile Apps available in the Canvas Training Services Portal which is available under the help tab in the WCU Canvas environment. 

    Training Courses About Mobile Apps-Training Services Portal

    Banerjee, Robert. The Effect of Mobile Apps on Academic Success. (2019, March 7). EdTech Digesthttps://www.edtechdigest.com/2019/03/07/the-effect-of-mobile-apps-on-academic-success/

    How does this align to Canvas training materials?

    Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: Module 6 “Structuring the Course”

     


    Additional Resources:

    Our next article will highlight Rubrics in Canvasvisit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles.