Category Professor Stories

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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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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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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Packback Case Study: Jodi Hallsten-Lyczak

Jodi Hallsten-Lyczak has been an instructor at Illinois State University for the last five years in the communication department. In 2007, Jodi was named the Outstanding University Teacher, which is the highest recognition offered by Illinois State University for outstanding teaching. That year, she was also awarded the highest teaching award designated by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Jodi utilized Packback Answers in both of her courses this semester; Communication Theory and Introduction to Mass Communication. Both of these courses had approximately 150 students per class, and catered to the Freshman/Sophomore communication or general education student. Her goal in using Packback was to finally use a discussion board that cultivated quality discussion rather than just being busy work, and the discussion that resulted on Packback far exceeded her expectations.

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Packback Case Study: Professor Srikripa Chandrasekaran

Srikripa Chandrasekaran is a professor of science at Clemson University. No stranger to the perils of student engagement in and out of the classroom, she decided to utilize Packback Answers this semester in an attempt to keep her students more engaged and actively thinking about the course material taught in class. We had a chance to ask Srikripa a few questions about her experience, which is turning out to be quite positive!

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