Faculty Innovator: Danielle Biton

1st December 2022

Creative “Hacks” Lead to Des Résultats Magnifiques

Learning from your mistakes is perhaps one of the most important lessons any student can learn. This core concept plays a crucial role in how one IU Southeast professor has redesigned her classes and the results have been magnificent.

Adjunct French lecturer, Danielle Biton, Ph.D., worked with Karri Hamlett-Bedan at the IU Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence to develop course specific teaching tools that utilized Canvas by Instructure software.

“I used my own Canvas New Quizzes tool ‘hacks’ to create practice quizzes and homework assignments that previously required lots of manual grading,” said Biton. “Not only does this help save you lots of grading time, but they can also help your students by giving them instant feedback on the concepts they aren’t quite understanding before it really impacts their grades on a larger assignment.”

Emphasizing the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles on formative assessment, Biton offers multiple question types and a variety of ways in which students can interact with the material and demonstrate mastery through reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students get immediate feedback with autocorrected homework and practice quizzes. Unlimited attempts with only the highest grade kept offers a safe learning environment that will not negatively impact their overall grades, promotes learning, and encourages repetition.

Biton eschewed simple multiple choice or true/false questions and focused on various formats including embedded audio recordings for improving listening skills, drag and drop parts of speech for practice with sentence structures, narrative passages with multiple verbs throughout to conjugate and practice tense, drop down options for sentence creation, and color coded quizzes to visually represent sentence structure. Large question banks ensure different questions each time, which covers more material each repetition.

Implemented in the middle of the Spring 2022 semester, Biton was able to get real-time feedback on this new method of teaching versus her traditional course materials. The results were dramatic.

 “I quickly realized that students were learning the material faster than usual and that I did not need to do so much repetition of the material in class,” said Biton. “It was the first time in 10 years of teaching that I had more free time during class to do oral practice, games, songs, skits, etc. I believe that it was the unlimited practice quizzes that allowed students to learn the grammatical concepts faster. Grades also improved during the semester.”

At the end of the Spring semester, students were asked to provide feedback. Biton was shocked when she received 100% positive responses to the new method.

One student noted, ”LOVE it! The multiple attempts allow me to get new questions so I get to learn more and learn from my mistakes.”

Biton believes that learning should be a fun process and that by offering varied learning materials, it keeps the learning process interesting.

“The unlimited trials allowed students to use the quiz as an effective learning tool,” said Biton. “In this way, these activities are somewhat like a game in that students can try to beat their best scores and level up. Because we all have access to Canvas New Quizzes at IU Southeast, these tools could be used in virtually any class covering any topic: learning grammar concepts, reviewing vocabulary items, remembering important dates and events in history, recalling math principles, memorizing scientific formulas, recounting philosophical ideologies, and so much more!”

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