Process for facilitating an Analytic Memo activity in a physically-distanced learning space
Time and Effort
|Instructor Prep Time||High|
|Student Activity Time||High|
|Instructor Response Time||High|
|Complexity of Activity||High|
Analytic Memo requires students to write a one- or two-page analysis of a problem. Students analyze an issue using discipline-specific approaches and methods and create a compelling argument for a specific audience. The recipient of the memo is usually a stakeholder in need of the student’s analysis to inform their decision making.|
Use is when you want...
- To have students develop their ability to analyze problems using discipline-specific approaches and methods,
- To provide feedback to students on their analytic and communication skills, or
- To assess students’ abilities to communicate their analyses clearly and concisely to a specific audience.
What students will need
- Laptop, or tablet, or mobile phone
- Classroom with campus wireless connection
- Resources for student access to computers
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate Analytic Memo learning activity within a classroom with a physical distancing layout.
- Determine which analytic approaches or methods are to be assessed.
- Identify an appropriate, well-focused, and typical problem or situation for the students to analyze.
- Get background information on the problem.
- Define the recipient, subject, and purpose of the memo.
- Decide the technology students will use to write the memo and set up the technology space, if necessary.
- Decide whether students will work alone, in pairs, or small groups.
- Create an example memo on the subject to share with students.
- Create a template of the memo students will use to complete the assignment using Google Docs.
- Provide written directions to be handed out during class.
- Specify the student’s role, the identity of the audience, the specific subject to be addressed. Identify the analytic approach students will use, the length limit (usually one or two pages), and the assignment deadline.
- Set up students into groups. Note: Consider limiting the group size to 2-3 students. Groups larger than 2-3 people are encouraged to use text-based chat features instead of speaking to one another to reduce the noise volume in the room and to prevent shouting across long distances between students.
- Share an example memo and explain to students how this assessment can help prepare them for subsequent course assignments and their careers.
- Share the method students will use to write the document.
- Option 1: Students speak with one another across the empty seats.
- Option 2: Groups follow a link that creates a new version of the template in Google Docs. Students can use the chat feature inside Google Docs to communicate with one another. The document is shared among the group members and with the instructor.
- If students are to work on the document in class, give them time to do so. If students are to work on the document outside of class, tell them when the memo is due.
- Collect and review memos.
- Provide feedback/grade based on the quality of the analysis and communication displayed in the memo.
- Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
- Classroom furniture is not to be rearranged to facilitate activities. If you need a different general assignment classroom to meet your instructional needs, contact your curricular representative.
- If students are to move around the room during an activity, consider the mobility, location, equipment, and furniture needs of all students.
- The physical distance between students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak.
- This same physical distance may increase the noise level in the room as students try to speak to one another. This noise level may cause issues for some students. To this end, it is recommended that group size be limited to pairs (ideally) or triads at most. Activities requiring larger group sizes should utilize text-based chat solutions like those found in Zoom.
- 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.
Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 177-180.