At the University at Buffalo, Dr. Alexis Thompson has focused her efforts in research; more specifically related to substance abuse disorders and maternal behaviours. She is now a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, and increased her teaching load. Many professors switching from a research role to a teaching role would be overwhelmed with COVID-19 and online teaching, but Dr. Thompson flourished in her ability to leverage Kritik to ensure her students in Buffalo (and Singapore!) were able to develop their critical thinking abilities in an online format.
Dr. Thompson places a huge emphasis on wanting her students to develop their communication skills, especially through presentations. Her classes traditionally would have students participate in a Kritik activity biweekly, and all of the other students would evaluate them on their oral and written skills. Dr. Thompson leveraged Kritik to ensure that students would present over Zoom, but other students would be able to evaluate each of the students presenting through Kritik. Dr. Thompson not only wanted students to develop their skills as a presenter, but she really wanted her students to develop their evaluative abilities.
Students had the opportunity to present both in groups and individually. She provided a very detailed rubric so students could hone in on the exact grade of a presentation, and she was able to go into the Kritik platform and override certain student’s grades so that the rest of the class could see what she thought of the presentation. She guided their ability as an evaluator, and their Evaluation Scores allowed her to identify which students were struggling as an evaluator.
The Spring term was a mess for many professors, but Dr. Thompson was able to utilize Kritik to maintain and deliver the learning objectives she believes are important for her students. Dr. Thompson was able to use Kritik more effectively in her online summer course in Singapore, and felt more comfortable with the platform and saw better results from her students. Dr. Thompson has used Kritik in her Psychology 101 course in 2020 and is excited to use Kritik for her Introduction to Substance Abuse course this 21/22 school year, thanks to the broad scope of our platform.
Presentations are an example of an element that professors think cannot be emulated within an online teaching environment. However, Kritik fosters an opportunity for students to delve deeper into the presentation process both as a presenter and a reviewer. In-class presentations are often met with anxiety and boredom by students in post-secondary classrooms. Students tend to disengage with in-class presentations due to the availability of distractions (namely media and body language of presenters). Peer evaluation has been proven to make a positive impact on the in-class presentation process as reported by students. As evidenced in Dr. Thompson's class, students were able to engage further with their peers' presentations by providing critical and actionable feedback for the student to learn from. Using Kritik Peer to Peer learning software, student motivation can be directed at not only their own presentation but also the presentation of others, as their final presentation grade can be based on not only their own performance but also their critical evaluation of their peer performances. When a student in Dr. Thompson's class presented, they received an abundance of feedback in addition to grades on different criteria outlined by Dr. Thompson, which allowed them to refine their presentation skills for their futures. Online presentations do not allow students to practice certain skills like body language and eye contact. The flexibility of Kritik's rubric system allowed Dr. Thompson to create a rubric based more on the content of what student's are delivering. By modifying the existing presentation template, Dr. Thompson made significant changes to the rubric to enable students to focus on elements of a Zoom presentation like Content and Audience Engagement. This design tactic proved to be fruitful as students were engaged with their peers' presentations to evaluate them on the aforementioned criteria. The students were able to practice delivering a presentation that is meant to be engaging to an audience, as opposed to a traditional in-class presentation that would not serve them much benefit in terms of learning about the topic as well as becoming better presenters in their futures. While students received feedback from their peers, Dr. Thompson was able to give broad instructional feedback about the presentations and evaluations to the class ,to direct improvement in Kritik performance over the semester and review cohort performance as a whole.
Dr. Thompson is always looking to improve as an instructor. The unfortunate circumstance of the pandemic has negatively impacted many in-class learning opportunities. While many professors have struggled with the stress and time needed to make online learning effective, Dr. Thompson utilized Kritik to make her Psychology 101, Introduction to Substance Abuse, and Psychopharmacology courses more personalized and effective for her students. Coordinating presentations with more than 100 students in a cohort would not be effective. Dr. Thompson understands the importance of application and learning for first year students. Learning psychology concepts online presents a different challenge, and Professor Thompson utilized Kritik to help students connect critically with the material and their peers. Whether it's presentations, writing prompts based on the material, or refining her students' annotated bibliographies, Dr. Thompson has adopted Kritik to make those processes meaningful and effective.