Defining Features Matrix in Large Courses (Remote Instruction)

Facilitating Defining Features Matrix active learning activity in large courses during remote instruction

Time and Effort

Instructor Prep TimeMedium
Student Activity TimeLow
Instructor Response TimeLow
Complexity of ActivityMedium

Description

Defining Features Matrix requires students to categorize concepts according to the presence (+) or absence (–) of critical defining features. This activity helps students develop conceptual organizational skills and data on their analytic reading and thinking skills. In large courses (150 +), it can be difficult to facilitate active learning. This document walks you through the steps in planning and implementing this approach in your large course.

Use it when you want...

  • To help students develop their skills in organizing information based on a given set of critical defining features,
  • To assess how well students can distinguish between apparently similar concepts, or
  • To help students identify, define, and make explicit the distinctions between related ideas.

What students will need

Workflow

The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Defining Features learning activity in a large course within a remote learning environment.

Pre-Class

  • Focus on two or three concepts that are similar enough to challenge or confuse students. Determine which features of these concepts are most critical for students to recognize or understand.
  • Create a template of the Defining Features Matrix activity in Google Docs.
  • Make a list of defining features that each concept does or does not possess. After drawing up the list, add a limited number of shared features.
  • Create a table with features listed down the left side and concepts across the top.
  • Set up a Canvas Group Space.
  • Set up a Canvas Collaborations space for the activity.
  • Create a Canvas Assignment for submission of collaborative work.

Creating a Group Set in Canvas

  • Select People from the course navigation.
  • Select + Group Set for the assignment(s) you will create.
  • Provide a descriptive name in the Group Set Name box (ex. Defining Features). Note: For large classes, consider creating just one collaborative Group Set that you use for the entire semester, instead of creating an assignment-specific group set (ex. Group Set Name: Collaboration Space instead of Defining Features).
  • In the Group Structure section, select the Split students into ___ groups option. Enter a number that ensures there will be between 10-15 students per group. (ex. 200 student class 18-20 groups). 
  • Select Save.

Setting Up a Collaborative Space (Option 1 - Instructor-Created)

This process will create a collaborate assignment with a Google Doc already created for each group. Students will see their assignment when they go to the Collaborations tool in the course navigation. For large courses, however, the process can be time-consuming.
  • Select Collaborations from the course navigation.
  • Select + Collaboration.
  • Provide a name for the collaboration under Name (ex. Defining Features Assignment).
  • Provide a description and directions for the activity under Description.
  • Select + Collaboration | GoogleApps.
  • Under Group, click <Group Set Name> 1
  • Select Submit.
  • Repeat for each group you created under the Group Set. This will set up a collaborative space. 

Setting Up a Collaborative Space (Option 1 - Student-Created)

This process will have students create their own collaborative document and assign rights. Students will not see anything when they go to the Collaboration tool. They will access the document through their Canvas Group tool found in the sidebar navigation for Canvas.

groups-icon.png

  • Direct students to enter their group space. Direct one student in the group to follow these steps:
    • Select Collaborations from the course navigation.
    • Select + Collaborations | GoogleApps.
    • Select Document from the Kind menu.
    • Enter a name for the document in the Name box.
    • Enter a description of the document in the Description box.
    • Select the name of each group member to add them to the Google Doc.
    • Select Submit.
  • Students in the group will find the document listed within their Group Homepage under Collaborations.

Creating a Group Assignment in Canvas

  • Select Assignments from the course navigation.
  • Select + Assignment.
  • Provide a name and description. Include the following steps for submitting the document:
    • Select Submit Assignment.
    • Select Google Drive for the document source.
    • Locate the collaborative document and add it.
    • Select Submit Assignment.
  • Under Points, specify the number of points the assignment is worth.
  • Under Submission Type, select File Uploads.
  • Under Submission Attempts, select Unlimited.
  • Under Group Assignment, select This is a Group Assignment. Select the Group Set you created for this assignment. (ex. Defining Features).
  • Unde Due, specify the date/time for the assignment to be completed.
  • Under Available from, specify the date/time the assignment will be opened/visible to students.
  • Under Until, specify the date/time the assignment will no longer be opened/visible to students.

Online

  • Direct students to Collaborations on the course navigation. They will find their collaborative assignment. Clicking the name of the assignment will bring them to their shared Google Doc. Note: They may need to authorize the Google Docs integration if they haven't done so before. If students are logged into Google Docs using their personal accounts, they will need to log off and repeat these steps.
  • Direct students to your read-only version of your Google Doc.
  • Students can copy and paste the template into their own shared documents.
  • Have students place a + or - or a Yes or No in each cell of the table.
    • For a synchronous activity, students can use the Chat feature to communicate.
    • For an asynchronous activity, students can place their initials next to their + or - entries. The group can use the comments to come to a consensus on the final designation for each item.
  • Direct students to Assignments in the course navigation to submit the document.

Post-Class

  • Review grids.
  • Provide feedback/grade based on the quality of the grids.
  • Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting.

Access and Accessibility Considerations

  • Be aware that some students might not have the bandwidth to participate in synchronous sessions. Make sure students turn off their cameras to reduce bandwidth. Students can also use the dial-in phone connection for audio, instead of their network connection.
  • The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.

Technical Documentation

Citation/Source

Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 164-167.




Keywords:defining features, active learning, large courses, remote instruction   Doc ID:103584
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Remote Instruction
Created:2020-07-02 16:27 CDTUpdated:2020-09-01 16:42 CDT
Sites:Remote Instruction
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