Reading In Action

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Last meeting of the BCcampus Book Club

Hello Everyone,

Just a reminder that tomorrow, Friday Nov 9th, is the seventh and last meeting of the BCcampus Book Club on “How Learning Works”. The meeting will take place at 10 am DST.

Please connect a few minutes earlier to check your technical setup (especially your audio connection) by checking out this page with information about Blue Jeans web conferencing and the link to our dedicated room.

Looking forward to talking to you all.

Peter Arthur, Chapter Seven Facilitator


Chapter Seven: How Do Students Become Self-Directed Learners?

This post is contributed by Peter Arthur, Chapter Seven Facilitator.


Key Principle:  “To become self-directed learners, students must learn to assess the demands of the task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed.”

Further, upon completing the learning task, students should reflect on their learning process, examine instructor feedback and adjust their learning strategy for next time.

Figure 7.1. Cycle of Self-Directed Learning


Note: One of the book’s authors (Marsha Lovett) explains principle 7 at the University of Texas at Austin:


So What?

Metacognition enhances a student’s ability to be a self-directed learner and is associated with academic success.  However, according to chapter 7, students do not fully leverage their metacognitive skills.  Consequently, it is important to support students with developing and applying their metacognitive abilities.


Now What?

Strategies that support student’s ability to develop and apply the following metacognitive skills:

  • Access the demands of the task
    1. Be explicit with communicating your learning targets/competencies/outcomes related to what you expect and don’t want in a learning task. Further, it is important to check the student’s understanding of the task’s expectations.
    2. Provide students with the criteria they will be assessed on i.e. rubric.
  • Evaluate ones own strengths and stretches (weaknesses)
    1. Provide practice with timely feedback.
    2. Provide opportunities for self-assessment. For example students may use practice exams to assist with learning the material, however just as importantly learn about their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Plan an approach
    1. Either provide students with a detailed plan that includes milestones/deadlines or have them create their own learning plan.
  • Applying strategies and monitoring performance
    1. Require students to reflect on and annotate their own work.
  • Reflecting on and adjusting one’s approach
    1. Require students to reflect on their performances i.e. assignments/projects and exams. In the case of exams, exam wrappers ask students how they performed, what strategies they used to prepare, based on exam results what worked and didn’t work, and most importantly, what they should do next time to learn the material for the exam.
  • Beliefs about intelligence and learning (Growth Mindset)
    1. Directly teach that students are able to grow their intelligence and the more effort put in, the more you will get out.
    2. Support students with setting reasonable expectations with their learning.
  • Develop their metacognition
    1. Model your thinking. For example, using the think aloud protocol, demonstrate how an expert would solve the problem by speaking your thoughts each step of the way

In summary, metacognition does not necessarily develop on its own. Metacognitive skills enhance the student’s ability to be a self-directed learner and succeed in higher education environments that are placing more responsibility for their learning on the student. This chapter provides many practical ideas. Please share your thoughts and comments!

To encourage participation, those who share a comment/post this week will have their name entered into the Chapter Seven draw for a $25 CAD gift certificate for Chapters Indigo. Read the contest guidelines here. Good luck!

The Book Club chat on Chapter Seven will take place on Friday, Nov. 9th at 10 AM DST. Check out the schedule and how to connect with the group.

Chapter Six: Why do Students Development and Course Climate Matter for Student Learning?

This post is contributed by Laura MacKay, Chapter Six Facilitator. 


Principle: Students’ current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.

This chapter of How Learning Works addresses how learning is influenced by the interactive effects of holistic student development and classroom climate. Students vary from one another and from class to class. This is what makes teaching exciting and always changing.  But this also has pitfalls unless educators proactively work towards creating a supportive classroom climate that intentionally acknowledges and addresses differences. The educational environment is often focused on student intellectual development but students are also rapidly growing and changing socially and emotionally. While educators have less impact on student development according to the authors, they can shape the climate of the classroom in ways that address holistic development and enhance learning.

A number of theories are presented that describe changes in how students perceive and understand the world around them and the ways in which this impacts the class environment. Strong emphasis is placed on students’ development of identity and how this can lead to the formation of ingroups and outgroups and the development of prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes. The classroom can be a place where students feel invisible, or marginalized, or discriminated against, or supported, or inclusive. How educators structure the class climate will impact learning.

According to DeSurra and Church (1994) classroom climate is best understood on a continuum:

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 9.06.30 AMClassroom climate is determined by:

  • Faculty-student and student-student interactions
  • Tone
  • Stereotyping
  • Content


A negative class climate hinders learning whereas a positive environment strengthens learning. Educators have a great deal of control over classroom climate. HLW suggest several strategies that encourage student development and create a productive classroom environment.

  • Make uncertainty safe
  • Resist a single right answer
  • Incorporate evidence into performance and grading criteria
  • Examine your assumptions about students
  • Be mindful of low-ability cues
  • Do not ask individuals to speak for an entire group
  • Reduce anonymity
  • Model inclusive language, behaviour, and attitudes
  • Use multiple and diverse examples
  • Establish and reinforce ground rules for interaction
  • Make sure course content does not marginalize students
  • Use the syllabus and first day of class to establish the course climate
  • Set up process to get feedback on the climate
  • Anticipate and prepare for potentially sensitive issues
  • Address tensions early
  • Turn discord and tension into a learning opportunity
  • Facilitate active listening


Instead of looking to the above strategies as a checklist, it may be helpful to consider your learning environment as more of an ecosystem with interacting components between yourself, your students, and the course content.  As one component changes, the learning environment changes.

To reflect on this chapter and prepare for the upcoming book club meeting you may wish to comment on the following:

  • The focus in this chapter is on young adults (17-24). How might this principle apply to older learners? What might be different?
  • What explicitly inclusive approaches do you use to foster a more positive classroom climate?
  • Do you see the principle of learning in this chapter applying to online class climate? How might it be similar or different?
  • Much of the discussion around the stages of development, in particular in relation to social identity, has a negative connotation. In what ways might social identity be construed as positive?

To encourage participation, those who share a comment/post this week will have their name entered into the Chapter Six draw for a $25 CAD gift certificate for Chapters Indigo. Read the contest guidelines here. Good luck!\

The Book Club chat on Chapter Six will take place on Friday, Nov. 2nd at 10 AM PST. Check out the schedule and how to connect with the group.


BCcampus Book Club Meeting Five

Hello Everyone,

The fifth meeting of the BCcampus Book Club will be this Friday October 26th at 10 AM PST.

Please connect a few minutes earlier to check your technical setup (especially your audio connection) by checking out this page with information about Blue Jeans web conferencing and the link to our dedicated room.

Looking forward to discussing HLW Chapter Five on “Practice and Feedback” with all of you!

Janine Hirtz, Chapter Five Facilitator

Chapter Five: Practice and Feedback

This post contributed by Janine Hirtz, Chapter Five Facilitator.


What Kinds of Practice and Feedback Enhance Learning?


Chapter Five of How Learning Works examines the critical role that feedback plays in helping students learn.  The principle is that “Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback are critical to learning.

Students need sufficient practice that is focused on a specific goal or set of goals and that is at an appropriate level of challenge.

Feedback Targets:

  • What they are understanding or not understanding
  • Where they are performing well or where performance is not going very well
  • How they should direct subsequent efforts so they can improve



(p. 126, Figure 5.1 Cycle of Practice and Feedback)


Characteristics of  Effective Feedback: 

  • Focuses students on the key knowledge and skills you want them to learn
  • Is provided in a timely manner and with consistent frequency
  • Is linked to additional practice opportunities



Reading this chapter reminded me of an “aha” moment that has guided me in my own work and in my consultations with faculty for the last 14 years.  In 2004, in a B.Ed. course, the instructor gave us an assignment with a rubric attached.  She asked us to complete the assignment, then grade our own assignment using the attached rubric, including comments, and then hand it all in.  The “hand in your own marked rubric method” provides an opportunity for the instructor to comment on the discrepancies between the student’s judgement of their own work and the instructor’s judgment and this helps the student recalibrate.

Later in 2017, at an Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed (STHLE) conference, keynote speaker David Boud, Emeritus Professor from University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, talked about assessment.  He challenged us to teach “feedback enabled curriculum” where there are opportunities for feedback early and throughout a course, not just at the end. He shared strategies for creating an environment for “sustainable feedback”—feedback that builds students’ capacity to make judgements about their own learning.

As you read this chapter and reflect on your own teaching practice, or perhaps even, your own experiences as a student, consider the following:

What strategies have you found to be helpful for students to be able to judge their own learning?

Is the type of feedback outlined in this chapter practical in all courses, or for all class sizes?

What about practice? How do we build in practice that is goal-directed so students have an opportunity for improvement?

What do you think about letting students “redo” an assignment?

Post your comments below! To encourage participation, those who share a comment/post this week will have their name entered into the Chapter Five draw for a $25 CAD gift certificate for Chapters Indigo. Read the contest guidelines here. Good luck!

The Book Club chat on Chapter Five will take place on Friday, Oct 26th at 10 AM PST. Check out the schedule and how to connect with the group. We also invite you to say hello in the Comments section of our Intro post.

Reading Break Two

Hello Everyone,

This week (Oct.15 – 19) is our second Reading Week   for a bit of space for more reading and some reflection.

We are more than half-way through the book. Time flies! We hope you are are having fun and experiencing some meaningful learning with the Book Club.

If you are still considering participation, please come along for the ride and say hello in the Comments section of our Intro post  .Read the comments from participants from Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4.

After this break, we’ll start up again on October 22nd with “Chapter Five: Practice and Feedback” facilitated by Janine Hirtz.   The week will be topped off with a Friday chat October 26 at 10 AM PST. Be sure to join us.

In the meantime, have a great week!

Reading Break One

Hello Everyone,

This week (Sept 24-28) is our first Reading Week! So if you need a bit of time to catch up or refresh your reading of HLW, this is it.

If you want to join the BCcampus Book Club now, please do! Be sure to say hello in the Comments section of our Intro post  and check out the many thoughtful comments from participants on Chapter One (Prior Knowledge) and Chapter Two (Knowledge Organization).

After this break we’ll start up again on October 1st with Chapter Three on Student Motivation facilitated by Giulia Forsythe. (Don’t forget we have a weekly draw prize for a Chapters Indigo gift card.)

Have a good week!



Welcome to the BCcampus Online Book Club!


Welcome all to this fall. There’s excitement in the air for it’s the beginning of a new season of learning for our post-secondary colleagues and students. This excitement for some of us is also due to anticipation of the launch of The BCcampus Online Book Club on September 10th.

Why a book club you might ask?  Our community of post-secondary educators wanted a vehicle to create collegial connections; something to support opportunities to learn with each other and share what we are doing in teaching and learning. The idea of a book club focused on teaching and learning professional development was sparked and began to take shape at a meeting at the Festival of Learning in Vancouver in May 2018. Wonderful volunteer facilitators came forward to help. Yes, people are keen to do this kind of activity, but there would be some key stipulations: it should be open; easy to participate in; and it must be fun!

For our first book, we’ve selected How Learning Works: 7 Research-based Principles for Smart Teaching written by educators from Carnegie-Mellon University. First published in 2010, this book is “go-to” reading for those wanting to learn about what research says about how we learn and how it can inform our teaching practice.  A copy of this book should be easily available: you can borrow the book from most post-secondary teaching and learning centres or  libraries or purchase your own copy online.

Over the next several weeks, we invite you to read, reflect and share your thoughts and experiences in teaching  and learning through suggested book club activities: commenting on the blog, posting your stories on social media (#BookClubBC), and participating in the weekly web conference chats. We challenge you to apply some of the principles featured in each of the chapters if you’ve not already done so. We support you to participate in what interests you and you are able to do and to reach out for collegial wisdom should you need suggestions or have advice to contribute. We’ve built-in a few reading breaks for catching up as needed. (Check the schedule here.) Our hope is these learning moments will be starting points for deeper conversations on teaching and learning and the ideas we as educators care about.  In future, book selections will be driven by participants, so we invite you to hop onboard, get reading, and join us on this journey!

All the Best,

The BCcampus Online Book Club Facilitators

P.S. Please check out the Comments section!