Category Case Studies

Improving Critical Thinking Through Online Discussion

A Graduate Professor at Grand Valley State University uses Packback to prepare students for their careers.

In the Department of Occupational Science & Therapy at Grand Valley State University, students walked into the first day of class excited to learn. It’s the start of their 3-year journey of classroom instruction and clinicals to prepare for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam. But their instructor, Dr. Jennifer Summers, walked into the classroom with a bigger goal – to teach the importance of critical thinking and this semester she used Packback to help.

“When I see my students in front of me, I think of their future clients,” says Dr. Summers. “These are graduate students who are going to enter our profession. We train them to think in a way that is all-encompassing so they’re able to see the bigger picture. We give them knowledge, but critical thinking with transformable learning is our main objective.”

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How Packback Questions Measures up to Other Discussion Platforms

Brand Ambassador Jenna Baker shares about her experience with Packback Questions.

An essential feature of the Packback Questions platform is its interactive nature.

One main purpose of having students write discussion posts or ask questions is so  they can grow and learn from one another in addition to classroom learning. Although this may be the common use of a discussion platform, many standard formats and website layouts do not actually provide a learning environment that is as conducive to that growth.
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The Ability for Students to Engage and Interact 24/7

Brand Ambassador Beverly Paz shares about her experience with Packback Questions.

When attending larger schools, such as the University of Alabama, it is nearly impossible to avoid larger classes. Within two years, I have been in several lecture-based classes with a couple hundred classmates. The issue  is that when the class is too big, the professor can become overwhelmed and there is no class time for interacting in small groups. How can students maximize their courses when no class time is set aside for practicing concepts, asking questions, critical thinking or interacting with other students?

While not completely ridding the educational system of non-engaging lectures, Packback does offer multiple features that begin to remedy the situation.

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Packback Learners are Life Learners

Brand Ambassador Jenna Baker shares about her experience with Packback Questions.

One of the major life skills I have acquired from using Packback is a strong sense of cooperation. I appreciate the very specific requirement that was made that students ask at least one question, but respond to/answer two questions. I came to the realization that this specific requirement had an influence on me throughout the semester. While in some chapters, I felt I had so many questions I could use help thinking out, there were other chapters in which I felt I had none. In those situations, Packback is what made me think further and find something of an even higher order to speculate about. Similarly, having to answer two questions required that I constantly engage with my peers and help others formulate solutions to proposed questions and ideas, whether broad or specific.

In many ways, Packback learners are life learners. In life, whether regarding work or a social matter, we may encounter situations in which we are unsure, or could use input from others.

Packback teaches the right way to communicate with our peers no matter what topic we are inquiring about.
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Meet Our Ambassador: Robert Ridge

Robert Ridge is an ambitious student from University of Tennessee. His goal is to work in finance after earning a Masters’ degree in Accounting along with becoming a CPA. He’s also extremely interested in technology and physics. In his spare time, he loves working with electrical wiring and programming using devices such as the Arduino Uno.

With a wide range of interest, Robert has grown to be a curious individual and he has been truly enjoyed participating in his Packback community. When hearing that his class would be using Packback this semester, he was skeptical because he knew it would be hard to curate and screen content while still allowing for open and constructive discussion. However, he has been more than impressed with the quality of the moderators.

The content has remained informative and constructive. Packback seems to be a service I can really get behind and support for other classes. It has brought a better sense of community to what is otherwise a very large lecture.

Robert became a Curiosity Ambassador in Fall 2016 and he aims to introduce Packback to more professors at the University of Tennessee.

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