Home » Getting Started

Category Archives: Getting Started

Tools of the Trade: The INNOVATE Teaching with Technology Website

By in Classroom, Getting Started, Musings on Technology, Tools on .

One of the great benefits of the Internet Age has been the development of digital tools that will aid faculty in their ability to improve their teaching and engage students in learning. During a recent consultation, the faculty member with whom I was working was trying to make a decision about which tool to choose to best support student learning. He said, “It is good that we have a lot of tools, but how am I supposed to choose? There is so much I have to think about?…” This faculty member is not alone in his sentiments. Juniu (2005) noted that faculty often feel “overwhelmed by the twofold challenge of keeping abreast of a rapidly changing technological environment…and finding pedagogical strategies that allow for technology to be effectively integrated with their course content.”

In order to address this challenge, Instructional Development Center (ITaP) staff members developed the INNOVATE Teaching with Technology website. This website was designed to inform faculty understanding about tools supporting pedagogical strategies they want to implement in their course.


How Do I…?

One of the biggest questions faculty face when considering how to integrate digital tools into their course is where to start. In the “How Do I” section of the website, you will have the opportunity to review strategies that will enable you and your students to organize, present, assess/evaluate, or collaborate/communicate your work. When you select the “How Do I…?” selection, the following page will appear:


Some of the topics on this page include selecting the appropriate tool for blogging, managing student email, and creating video content. You will note that each of the sections found on the page are framed by a given color. These colors are visuals linking you back to the corresponding strategy found on the main page where you can learn more about the strategy itself.



The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education were used as one of the primary drivers underpinning  in the development of this website. These principles are:

Intended as guidelines for faculty members, students, and administrators with support from state agencies and trustees – to improve teaching and learning. They rest on 50 years of research on the way teachers teach and students learn, how students work and play with one another, and how students and faculty talk to each other. (Chickering & Gamson, 1987)


The Teaching, Learning, and Technology (TLT) group cited how digital technologies can be utilized to support the seven principles. There are number of Purdue tools that may be helpful in supporting these principles as well.

Tools_4  Strategies using Digital Tools 


When you select a given strategy, you will be presented with a page presenting examples of the strategy using Purdue Supported Tools; opportunities to Learn More, including tool synopsis and table highlighting which tools support the 7 Principles of Effective Instruction, information regarding how the strategy is linked to the 7 Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, and a list of references grounding the pedagogical strategy. Strategies_5ACourse Design

If you are considering designing a new course or redesigning an existing course, the Interactive Course Re/Design (ICD)* model provides:

A sound, pedagogical approach to course design with links and resources that offer guidance on each step in the process… The ICD model is specifically designed to encourage development of active learning and supports the ‘backward design’ pedagogical concept of determining what you want to accomplish before deciding how you want to approach it.

(Source: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/cdm/index.html)



(*This site /model was developed and written by Dr. Pat Reid, Dr. Frank Dooley, Clarence Maybee and Dr. David Nelson with contributions from IMPACT Support Team members)

If you would to schedule a consultation or would like to discuss any of the strategies or technological tools in more detail, please contact itap@purdue.edu.


Chickering, A. W., & Ehrmann, S. C. (1996, October). Implementing the seven principles: Technology as lever. AAHE Bulletin, 3-6. Retrieved from  http://www.tltgroup.org/programs/seven.html

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” AAHE Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7.

Juniu, S. (2005). Digital democracy in higher education: Bridging the digital divide. Innovate Journal of Online Education, 2(1). Retrieved from http://www.oit.sfasu.edu/disted/DigitalDemocracy.pdf

Prepared by: Dr. Constance Harris, Educational Technologist

Teaching From the Test: Exam Wrappers

By in Classroom, Course Redesign, Getting Started, Musings on Technology on .

Picture of Graded exam

As an educational technologist, I have the opportunity to consult with faculty members who want to know how they can best help students prepare for upcoming examinations. During our discussions, faculty members comment that students focus (obsess) on their test score and not what they might have done differently to prepare for their exams.  When I attended the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in Philadelphia this past spring, I learned about a pedagogical tool faculty members utilize to help students learn from past exams and become more purposeful in the manner in which they prepare for future exams. This tool is known as exam wrappers.  Lovett (2013) described exam wrappers as, “structured reflection activities that prompt students to practice key metacognitive skills after they get back their graded exams” (p. 18).  Exam wrappers promote the development of self-regulated learning by prompting students to reflect, compare, and modify their learning strategies.

Exam wrappers pose three types of questions to students:

Question markWhat did they do to prepare for the exam? The purpose of this question is to prompt student reflection and help them evaluate the choices they made studying for the exam.  Questions posed to students include: How much time did you spend studying? and What exam preparation strategies did they use, such as, reviewing notes, studying in a group, working practice problems, or reading the course texts.) When faculty members present exam strategy choices, students are reminded of additional methods they can use to prepare.

Where did they make exam errors?  When exams are returned, students identify areas where they lost points and consider why the points were lost. For example, students may have lost points because they did not understand the question, did not understand how to apply a given concept or formula, or made careless mistakes.  Some instructors also incorporate open-ended questions so that students can identity other areas that affect exam performance, such as test anxiety.

What could they do differently to prepare for the next exam? This question is designed to encourage students to review their response to the first two exam wrapper questions and then list strategies that they could utilize to improve future performance.

Sample Exam Wrapper

 Figure 1. Sample Exam Wrapper

The Exam Wrapper Process

  1. Students utilize normal test taking strategies to prepare and take the first exam.
  2. The first exam is returned and students complete the exam wrapper either in class or online within a course management system, such as Blackboard Learn. (Instructors can either make the assignment required or award participation points for completion).
  3. The instructor collects the exam wrapper and reviews student comments.  This allows the instructor to assess student behavior patterns and determine whether the teaching staff needs to include additional teaching resources to support student learning.
  4. The exam wrapper is returned to students within a week or two before the next exam.  Students review their comments and then have the opportunity to follow their own advice for studying.

Benefits of Exam Wrappers

Exam wrappers:

  • Can be implemented without infringing on class time.
  • Are easy to complete by students.
  • Are repeatable and flexible. Faculty members can incorporate questions that address topics that are being covered in their curriculum.
  • Can be used to help faculty adjust their teaching strategies and assist students in achieving learning outcomes.
  • Help students develop metacognitive skills that faculty want them to learn. These skills include the ability to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses, identify study strategies that work for them, and adjust their learning strategies. (Lovett, 2013)

Blog Resources:

Bowen, J. (2013). Cognitive wrappers: Using metacognition and reflection to improve learning. Retrieved from http://josebowen.com/cognitive-wrappers-using-metacognition-and-reflection-to-improve-learning/

Ebbler, J. (2013, July 31). Exam wrappers. Retrieved from http://teachingwithoutpants.blogspot.com/2013/07/exam-wrappers.html

Pinchin, S. (2013, June 17). Exam wrappers: A novel way to review exams. Retrieved from http://meds.queensu.ca/blog/undergraduate/?p=653


Lovett, Marsha C. (2013). Make exams worth more than the grade: Using exam wrappers to promote metacognition. In M. Kaplan, N. Silver, D. LaVague-Manty, & D.  Meizlish (Eds.), Using reflection and metacognition to improve student learning: Across the disciplines, across the academy (pp. 18-52). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Prepared by: Dr. Constance A. Harris

Eight Questions About Windows 8

By in Getting Started, Musings on Technology, Software on .

My first experience with the Windows 8 operating system began in December 2012 when I helped friends install their new desktop computer. Windows 8 was installed on the computer and my goal was to set-up Wi-Fi and install their printer.  I thought the process would be easy, it was not. I quickly became frustrated during the installation process, because I like many others could not easily find the programs for which I had become accustomed to using, such as the Control Panel. After a few hours of mulling my way around the system, I was able to get everything successfully installed and went happily back using Windows 7. Fast forward to now… I recently began using a Surface Pro tablet, which comes with Windows 8. I really like the Surface Pro tablet and decided (this time) to explore features of the operating system more deeply.   This post is designed to share the answers to initial questions you may have about the operating system.

1.) How do I take a screen shot with Windows 8? 

Press the Windows key Apps4and the Print Screen key and the screen shot will be saved in the pictures library. If you are using a tablet device, the combination is the Windows key and the Volume Down key.

2.) Where is the Start button? 

The Start button has been replaced with the Start screen in Windows 8. The Start screen is the initial screen that you will see upon logging into the Windows 8 environment. The files and programs that were listed on the Start button are now presented as tiles on the Start screen. You can accesTiles can open desktop programs and system tools, such as, Microsoft Word and File Explorer, and Windows Store apps.

The Start Screen

Tiles on the Start screen link to programs, apps, and websites.

Windows 8 does not show you all of the tiles on your Start page. In order to see all of the tiles, scroll or swipe to the right side of your screen. As you can see, I loaded a variety of apps and programs.

The Start Screen

Access additional tiles


Some Thoughts on the Course Syllabus

By in Classroom, Getting Started on .

I like to investigate the backstory of things in higher education that are seemingly ubiquitous. Recently, my thoughts turned to the course syllabus which for most students is the initial point of contact between students and their instructors. Parkes and Harris (2002) noted that the syllabus, making its debut as a course outline in 1889, serves three major roles as: a contract for learning, a permanent record, and as a learning tool. As a contract for learning, the syllabus presents the course calendar and accompanying policies related to areas, such as grading, attendance, academic dishonesty, and accommodations for students with disabilities. As a permanent record, the syllabus should contain information including what the instructor will teach within a given course, the name and rank of the instructor, course pre-requisites, and course goals and objectives. As a learning-centered tool, the syllabus can be used to convey the faculty member’s perspectives about teaching, learning, and the content area; set the tone for learning in the course; and help students understand their role in the learning process (O’Brien, Millis, & Cohen, 2008). Topics that can be included in this portion of the syllabus include time to spend outside of class on coursework, test taking tips, recommended study strategies, and campus resources that help support student learning.

Faculty and students differ in their perceptions regarding the important components of the course syllabus (Doolittle & Siudzinski, 2010). (See Table 1). This table highlights what many already know – students tend to focus their attention on information related to exams, assignments, and grades.  I came across an interesting article by Mark Canada entitled The Syllabus: A Place to Engage Students’ Egos. Canada (2013) argued that a well-crafted syllabus can be used to engage millennial students in the learning process by answering the following question about the course: “What’s in it for me?” This is an important question, because millennial students have been described as consumers who “want to learn what they have to learn in a style that is best for them” (Carlson, 2005, p. A36).

Here are some of the strategies Canada recommends when producing a syllabus to engage the millennial learner:

  • Use plain and direct language. Use pronouns such as “you” throughout the syllabus to highlight the student’s role and responsibility for their own learning.
  • Set a friendly tone in the syllabus. When a syllabus has a friendly tone, students are more likely to believe the professor is approachable and seek help when needed.. A phrase in the syllabus such as “I welcome you to contact me” is friendly and conveys an approachable stance.
  • Humble yourself. Let the students know that you see yourself as a partner with them in their academic journey. Canada notes that it may not be a bad idea to let them know about some of the challenges you faced understanding the content.
  • Syllabus introduction. Use metaphors from real world contexts, such as movies, news, and sports, to introduce the subject matter to the student and emphasize their role in the learning process.  Let the students know that you want to see them succeed.
  • Course objectives. Help students see how course objectives are related to their personal goals and interests. For example, highlight the fact that employers value the skills they will be learning in your class or how the course can help prepare them for future academic work.
  • Grading. Emphasize the fact that student work will be evaluated according to the standards and criteria outlined in the syllabus. Instructors should allow students to utilize the standards embedded in the syllabus as a mechanism for self-evaluation of their work.

A well designed syllabus is one of the first steps the instructor can take to promote active, purposeful, and effective learning in millennials and other students as well (O’Brien et al., 2008).




Canada, M. (2013). The syllabus: A place to engage students’ egos. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 135, 37-42.

Carlson, S. (2005, October 7). The Net generation in the classroom. Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. A34 – A37.

Doolittle, P. E., & Siudzinski, R. A. (2010). Recommended syllabus components: What do higher education faculty include in their syllabi? Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 20 (3), 29-61.

O’Brien, G., Millis, J., & Cohen, M. (2008). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.