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Perusall - News letter Continuing Professional Development

11 July 2017

You can find development opportunities everywhere. Development is the result of various experiences, not only from courses or workshops, but also from becoming acquainted with and using innovative educational tools in an effective manner. Perusall is one such innovative tool, developed by Eric Mazur.

What is Perusall and how is it used?
Although the educational sciences do not have a lot of hard and fast rules, one thing is clear: the more time students spend on a course unit, the better their chances of passing it. Perusall is a tool that can stimulate this by using formative assessments or feedback. Texts or books are uploaded to Perusall and students can add comments and questions. They can discuss the study material online, making the out-of-class component a social, interactive activity providing intrinsic motivation. Lecturers will benefit too. The results of each out-of-class activity are processed into a ‘confusion report’ with a top 3 of the most discussed topics, which may serve as a starting point for the following lecture or seminar, resulting in more efficient use of lecture time. The transfer of information (out of class) is thus followed by processing the information (in class).

The University of Groningen is currently working on implementing Perusall in various course units in all faculties. Here are a few interesting examples:

  1. Close reading: Students read two English textbooks of about 300 pages each via a weekly Perusall assignment during the first six weeks of the block. The final exam covers the two textbooks.
    Advantages: students come to class prepared, they come out of their isolation, tutorial teaching is possible and a high exam pass rate.
  2. Operationalization of the learning outcome ‘Reflect on the articles that accompany the lectures and apply the insights gained from these to actual and recent organizational events’: Students are required to be actively involved and to reflect critically on both theoretical and empirical academic articles. In weekly Perusall assignments, students spend four weeks reading texts and coming up with questions, answers and reflection. The students are divided into groups to keep the discussions in Perusall structured.

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Last modified:19 December 2017 1.41 p.m.
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