Category Case Studies

How Different Discussion Methods Affect Student Engagement

A professor at the University of Georgia performed an experiment comparing the effectiveness of Packback, Blackboard and written reaction papers.

When Dr. Matt Goren was presented with an opportunity to teach Introduction to Personal Finance at the University of Georgia, he wanted to engage his students and equip them to make smart financial decisions during and after college.

According to the Financial Health of Young America report published by Young Invincibles, young adults today are in much worse financial health than 25 years ago, earning significantly lower incomes and having a dramatically lower net worth. Knowing this, Dr. Goren emphasized a personalized learning environment where each student worked on a semester-long finance project. By the end of the semester, every student had an actionable plan to improve and sustain their financial health.

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Achieving Learning Objectives with Packback

Packback Questions is a tool used by professors to facilitate online discussions. With the help of AI, Packback allows professors to scale individual coaching, moderation and grading in any sized classroom.

Watch the video below to see how Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter of Michigan State University, Dr. Matt Goren of the University of Georgia and Dr. Stacey Combes from the University of California, Davis use Packback to promote critical thinking and application in their courses.

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Creating an Inclusive Classroom with Packback

How a student-focused professor engages and connects with 150+ students in a single lecture.

Every Monday morning, Dr. Mark Reisinger enters his office at Binghamton University and prepares for his week. He answers student emails, uploads grades and prepares for his next geography class. But when the prep work is done, he leaves his office and chats with students. As a Collegiate Professor, Dr. Reisinger spends half of his time outside of the classroom building relationships, advising and teaching students that learning doesn’t just happen in the lecture hall.

Dr. Reisinger became a Collegiate Professor in 2010 and has mentored hundreds of students. His close relationship with students has allowed him to apply student feedback and experiment with different classroom techniques throughout his tenure.

“I am not the faculty member who stands up in front of the class and lectures,” says Dr. Reisinger. “I am the professor who is constantly moving around the classroom, lecturing and questioning students to keep them engaged.”

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Discovering New Ideas on Packback Questions

It was 9:05 a.m. and I was in my seat ready to start my final semester as a senior at the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. I had my laptop out and was eager to learn what awaited me in Leadership Ethics. My teacher strode in, leaned back on one of the tables near the podium and stated, “Okay class, we’ll be using Packback this semester, so make sure to make an account by next week.” A quiet groan echoed through the classroom. ‘Another assignment we have to keep track of’, I thought, but I went ahead and got my account set up. No matter the program, every new assignment is met with skepticism, and Packback was no different. However, after having experienced it myself, I found myself whistling a different tune. Continue reading

Engaging Students in Large Lectures

How a Harvard Professor brought intimate discussion and student engagement to a large introductory course at the University of California, Davis. 

After teaching at Harvard University for seven years, Dr. Stacey Combes was excited to pursue tenure at the University of California, Davis. But transferring to UC-Davis meant trading intimate, discussion-driven classes for amphitheaters filled with hundreds of non-majors. Even with years of teaching experience and a number of prestigious awards for teaching undergraduates, Dr. Combes knew that connecting with more than 400 students and keeping the class engaged would be a challenge. Especially since this was her first time teaching Animal Behavior.

“I was really just trying to scramble and figure out what to do and to talk to colleagues to get advice,” says Dr. Combes. “I had a bunch of colleagues who teach [Animal Behavior] give me their lecture notes. A lot of the older professors who have more experience in the topic, their lectures would just be a picture and three words and I am like, ‘What am I supposed to say? What book do I use? What do I cover in this course?’”  

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