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Beyond the Five-Page Paper: Representing Student Learning Visually

Posted by on Monday, October 28, 2013 in Resource.

by Derek Bruff, CFT Director

Recently, CFT assistant director Nancy Chick and I led a workshop titled “Beyond the Five-Page Paper: Representing Student Learning Visually,” part of the CFT’s “Students as Producers” theme year. We don’t dismiss the importance of essays as formative and evaluative activities for students, but we do want to encourage instructors to think creatively about assignments that might be more appropriate ways to have student represent what they’ve learned in particular teaching situations. Sometimes a more visual assignment, one that combines both words and images to make a student’s thinking literally more visible, can give an instructor a better sense of what students have learned–and can motivate students to engage more deeply with course material.

During the workshop, we shared a number of examples of assignments with strong visual components, focusing on concept maps, posters, presentations, and infographics. We also discussed learning theory and research that supports the use of such assignments and shared some strategies for grading visual assignments. Below you’ll find the Prezi we used during the workshop. Click the forward button to move through the Prezi, or use your mouse to pan and zoom freely around the canvas. Click on the links you see for more information about particular examples. A few of the links lead to “Beyond the Essay: Making Student Thinking Visible in the Humanities,” the new CFT teaching guide authored by Nancy mentioned here on the blog last week.

If you’d like to talk with someone about using visual assignments in your course, feel free to contact the CFT (322-7290) to set up a teaching consultation. Or, if you’ve tried these kinds of assignments in a course and you’d like to share how it went, send me an email. I’d love to hear about it, and maybe even feature you in a future blog post.

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