Steam 2

9:40 AM - 10:25 AM

Exploring the Landscape of Online Teaching and Learning: Recommendations for the Post-Pandemic Era


Dr. Sandra Dixon is a Registered Psychologist in Alberta and an Associate Professor at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Her program of research addresses culturally sensitive counselling practices among immigrants, cultural identity reconstruction, and ethno-cultural diversity issues including but not limited to the intersectionality of spirituality, class, race, and gender across cultural contexts. She currently serves on the Boards of the Psychologists Association of Alberta and Alberta Network of Immigrant Women (ANIW). She has extensive experience in immigration research, community engagement, social justice, and advocacy. She also brings knowledge and enthusiasm for social inclusion and faith-based frameworks in her work with counsellors-in-training and other helping professionals. She has published a wide range of work that centres around faith, immigration, and multicultural counselling. She is the proud recipient of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Research, Professional Article Award, The Professor Cecille DePass Research Award through the Farquharson Institute of Public Affairs (FIPA), the EDI Scholar Award at the University of Lethbridge, and the People’s Choice Award by the Alberta Black Therapists Network that honours an individual with an exception and prolonged professional service in advancing the agenda of Black mental health and wellness.

Millie Batta is a recent graduate from the University of Lethbridge where she completed her Master of Education in Counselling Psychology. Her thesis research explored the experiences of emergency remote learning among autistic youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently working as a registered clinical counsellor in British Columbia. Her research interests include: autism spectrum disorder, counselling youth, and multicultural counselling. She is the recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Type: Group Presentation

Room: M1090

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic (World Health Organization, 2020) had an unprecedented effect on our university community like most higher education institutions worldwide. It resulted in a sudden pivot in teaching and learning practices from all face-to-face classroom activities to online environments. This abrupt modification significantly impacted our campus community and continues to influence instructors’ pedagogical approaches along with teaching and learning methods. Research on teaching and learning during the pandemic (Ashencaen Crabtree et al., 2021; Cutri & Mena, 2020; Howe et al., 2021; Marioni et al., 2020; Miskry et al., 2021; Schulz & Demers, 2020; Watermeyer, 2021; Weilandt et al., 2022) highlighted growing mental health challenges, discrepancies in the accessibility of digital resources, and barriers in infrastructure and teaching development support. Although a systematic evaluation of online teaching and learning practices, supports, resources, and gaps is a substantial undertaking, the eventual gains far outweigh the costs.

Therefore, this virtual presentation is four-fold. First, the presenters aim to share insights about instructional limitations and unforeseen benefits that bear thoughtful reconsideration on the well-being and professional development needs of university instructors. Second, we will explore the landscape of online teaching within the context of supporting inclusive and equitable university teaching for a diverse student population. Third, recommendations will be offered for online teaching approaches and learning strategies in the post-pandemic era. Finally, a safe space will be provided for attendees to reflect on their online teaching and learning experiences and share concrete ways to move forward as we work towards equity-centred education.

The Future of Textbooks: Online, Interactive, and OPEN

Presenter: Sean Fitzpatrick

Type: Individual Presentation

Room: M1060

Open textbooks (and open educational resources, generally) are not new. An important aspect of open textbooks (especially at a time when many of our students struggle to afford food, let alone textbooks) is cost. But the perception remains that low cost also implies low quality.

In the past, this was often the case: free "textbooks" were often someone's hastily typeset lecture notes. But rapid developments in open publishing technologies have put tools in the hands of authors to self-publish professional-quality textbooks with features that were unheard of even a decade ago.

I will demonstrate examples of textbooks written using the PreTeXt authoring system exhibiting features such as embedded videos, interactive homework, live code execution, and social annotation. I will also show how such books can be hosted on a platform called Runestone that allows students to track their progress through the book, and earn homework credit by completing exercises without leaving the textbook, while providing instructors with useful data and analytics on student progress.

These books are also produced with accessibility as a priority. HTML versions work well with screen readers, and books can be produced in other formats as well, including PDF, epub, and braille.

If You Will Build It They Will Come; Encouraging Tutorial Attendance in Large First Year Courses

Presenter: Mr. Jaxon Reiter

Type: Individual Presentation

Room: M1035

This presentation details my experience teaching the optional class tutorial sessions for an introductory biology course (BIOL1020). I have taught the tutorial for Biology 1020 for four years, beginning when I was an undergraduate student. Average attendance has continued to greatly increase over this time, and feedback has been very encouraging.

I will highlight the importance of integrating a variety of teaching and learning methods into my sessions to optimize the student experience. I will also emphasize how my teaching toolkit and pedagogy addressed the large amount of content in a large, first-year biology course.

My discussion will be split into three main components which I believe have been critical to the success of my tutorial sessions;

1. Developing a dynamic teaching approach that emphasizes process knowledge.
• Recognizing and addressing threshold concepts in introductory biology.
• Shifting the emphasis from “content” knowledge to “process of learning” knowledge.
• Testing a breadth of approaches to determine how to best solidify student understanding of course material.

2. Student self-reflection, testing, and active learning.
• Presenting a diversity of self-assessment approaches.
• Providing students with a safe place to make mistakes.
• Treating students as active learners rather than passive observers.

3. Personal reflection and re-evaluation of teaching methods and learning outcomes.
• Valuing and integrating student feedback into future sessions and using it to continually revise both teaching methods and student resources.

Grappling with problems: adventures in flipping the classroom to teach 3rd year ecology

Presenter: Dr. Jenny McCune

Type: Individual Presentation

Room: M1040

A grand challenge of teaching is to motivate students to engage actively with complex patterns, processes and theories – rather than just memorizing definitions. After their first two years in university, most biology students have mastered how to identify the correct answer from a list of choices, but many are not very good at explaining concepts in their own words, applying a theory to a new situation, or evaluating evidence. For the past four years, I have used the ‘flipped classroom’ idea to teach ecology at the third year level. Rather than listening to a lecture, the students spend most of the class time working together in small groups to answer problem sets made up of challenging questions based on assigned readings. I will share what I have learned about how to motivate students to do the assigned reading, facilitate collaborative group work, and respond to the discontented (e.g. “I don’t learn well by reading”, and “why can’t you just lecture?”). While not all students are fans, many appreciate the chance to grapple with the sorts of questions they will see on exams. Taking this approach has been challenging – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, watching the look on a students’ face when they finally grasp a challenging concept, or overhearing one student clearly explain a famous theory to another, has been immensely rewarding.