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Engaging Information Studies students with law and policy: Part 2

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 09:00

In a previous blog post, I discussed my first experience teaching independently, and the pedagogical techniques I tried to apply. The course in question was GLIS 690 Information Policy, a class that aims to help library and information studies students navigate legal, policy, and ethical issues around information. I taught this course in Fall 2018 to 19 Master of Information Studies students, with varied backgrounds and career goals. In this course, I attempted to scaffold students’ exposure to legal and policy concepts while also implementing active learning strategies I learned in AGSEM and TLS workshops. Course feedback was overall positive, although some student evaluations were negative and/or offered me constructive criticism. Apparently, one challenge I faced was finding the right balance between lecturing and active learning activities during class time. An additional challenge was course alignment, particularly aligning content, outcomes, and assessments. I address lessons I learned below.

First, I note that – despite working hard to incorporate frequent breaks, questions for students, think-pair-shares, and hypotheticals – some student evaluations noted that the bulk of my classes were still lecture-intensive. That was disappointing for me, as I thought I had avoided lecturing too much. However, I guess that, even when you think you’re not lecturing too much, you probably are. (Maybe it’s an academic rule of thumb, like that – even when you think doing citations for an assignment won’t take too long – you’re wrong, and they will.) I was not deterred by negative feedback, but will strive to improve this area in future iterations of the course. However, thinking about how to cut lecturing further made me realize that I also struggled somewhat with course alignment. To expand and optimize in-class, active learning activities that will help students apply course concepts, I think I first need to tweak my course alignment.

Alignment, as I have learned through TLS, is the linkage between course goals, learning objectives, activities, and assessment. I struggled with this, as – while preparing to teach Information Policy – I focused on learning a lot of substantive content so that I could teach all those subjects to my students. While I worked hard on articulating my learning objectives in the syllabus and on developing in-class activities, my assessments were not as well thought-out as they could be. I also did not put enough time into connecting different elements of the course, including content, objectives, in-class activities, and assessments. Students, in course evaluations, sometimes pointed out that there was a mismatch between these elements. Now that I know the content I need to teach, I can invest more time in aligning these elements and in preparing students for assessments in future iterations of the course.

There was also a bit of a mismatch between the assessments, the content I was trying to teach, and the level I was teaching. Some student evaluations noted that my mid-term assignment was somewhat easy – and misaimed – for a class of graduate-level students. I am currently thinking of ways to make this assignment more challenging and innovative, while ensuring it helps students practice and apply course concepts. For example, inspired by another TLS workshop I attended in December 2018, I am considering an assignment in which I ask students to apply Canadian copyright law and policy to a hypothetical social media posting on behalf of an organization. This new assignment would ask students not just to make an argument about copyright, but to cite the law and justify a specific course of action on behalf of their organization. 

Further, while my final Information Policy assignment may have interested students more, some students pointed out that I could have laid better groundwork to complete it. The final assignment asked students to design an information policy of their own for a hypothetical organization. I assumed students would be able to design their proposed policy by having studied relevant Canadian laws and example policies from different organizations. However, some evaluations pointed out that grounding my class in the policy development process – the how, not just the what of specific, substantive topics, such as copyright or privacy – would have been appreciated. This is an oversight which I will address with future classes.

In conclusion, I have been told that teaching requires reflective practice. I see now that it does, and that designing and teaching effective courses is not just a reflective and iterative process. It should also be a dialogue between students, instructors and, ideally, other educators (such as my thesis supervisor and TLS) who can help with pedagogical development. I am grateful for the teaching opportunities I have in my PhD program, and hope to deliver an even stronger version of this course in future semesters. 

Engaging Information Studies students with law and policy: Part 1

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:00

The legal and ethical questions around information engage people far beyond the legal field. Online privacy, copyright, net neutrality, and ‘fake news’ (with its challenge to democracy) are in the headlines almost daily. People who may not work in law, government, or technology are, nevertheless, Internet users and citizens with a stake in the rules shaping the information society. For that reason, I believe it is important to educate users and information managers about their online rights. That was the guiding philosophy behind the course Information Policy, which I recently taught at McGill University’s School of Information Studies. Teaching this course – engaging students from outside law and policy with these subjects – allowed me to try out several pedagogical techniques. These included: scaffolding and building on students’ existing knowledge (especially given the newsworthiness of course topics); and active learning tools encouraging students to apply course content. My first experience teaching this course offered valuable lessons, both positive and negative. I address some of the positives, or, at least, the pedagogical tools I tried to implement, below. Part 2 of this blog post will address lessons I learned and scope for improving this course. 

Context about the class 

In Fall 2018, I taught Information Policy to 19 Master of Information Studies students. Students had varied interests and career goals, including technology, academic and public libraries, archives, and knowledge management (the business of helping organizations effectively manage employee knowledge). I suspect that most students self-selected into the course because of an interest in information policy, which I define as the legal, regulatory, and ethical issues around information and its governance. The class had not been offered at the School since 2005, which gave me an opportunity to revamp the course significantly. I was eager to succeed at my first time teaching independently. I had taken as many TLS and AGSEM workshops as I could, and set out to make an effective, interesting course which would engage information studies students with legal and regulatory concepts.

Scaffolding: building on existing knowledge 

Like all instructors, I suppose much of what I did could be called scaffolding – helping students achieve progressively stronger understanding of and greater independence with material covered. While I had excellent and motivated students, the challenge lay in the fact that my background (law) is not necessarily one that students had much prior exposure to. An additional challenge is that, as with legal literacy in general, students’ exposure to legal issues could vary within a class or between topics (for example, a student who had worked in a government job applying a given statute might know that area of law better than their peers). I also note that I am in no way blaming my students or anyone outside the legal field for having limited exposure to these concepts, which are not necessarily addressed except in specialized disciplines!

I kept all these challenges in mind and tried to apply one important rule in my teaching. That rule was, “Remember in whose presence I babbled.” I’m not sure how well I succeeded at this, but I tried to define legal terms in resonant, accessible ways. Then, once students had a simple (and, where possible, humorous and memorable) foundation, we moved on to more realistic examples or applications. I used similar precepts in developing examples of legal concepts, starting with fairly obvious ones, and moving up to more nuanced or challenging cases. However, in reflecting after the end of the course, I realized that I may still be able to improve how I define legal terms for my class. I may even be able to organize them in a more interactive, effective way – for example, by using my own definitions as a starting point, but letting students collaborate in a shared Google doc. 

Another issue I built on was the fact that information law and policy are newsworthy. As a result, most students had at least some prior exposure to issues such as copyright, privacy, ‘fake news’, and net neutrality. However, this, too, is a double-edged sword. First, while newsworthiness guided my syllabus to some extent, there were also important topics to address that are not necessarily as ‘hot’ in the media. Similarly, even extensive media coverage of a subject – such as the copyright and piracy wars – may be legally shallow or misleading. I believe – based on student feedback – that I successfully harnessed students’ preexisting interests in important 21st century debates while also enhancing their understanding beyond the things they gleaned from the headlines. I hope to continue doing so in future iterations of the course.

Active learning: “It is the one who does the work, who does the learning” (Doyle, 2008, p. 25). 

Another pedagogical tool I tried was active learning. As someone who’s been a student for ages, active learning just makes sense: no one’s attention span is cut out for lengthy lectures. As various TLS and AGSEM workshops highlight, “the person who does the work does the learning.” I therefore set out to break up my lecturing as much as possible. However, I found this difficult, given that I was teaching concepts to students who were not trained in them at all. I developed the compromise of lecturing for part of each class, then breaking to give students time to work on hypothetical problems in groups. Hypothetical problems could be theoretical (such as identifying and discussing ethical issues in a fraught situation), or more practical (such as looking at a scenario and a piece of legislation, and identifying which provisions might apply). Further, where possible, I tried to break lectures early on to do think-pair-shares and engage students with the material. Initial understandings would, I hope, be refined as I explained concepts, and students would then practice those concepts in answering hypotheticals. Overall, I believe student feedback and evaluations were positive. However, as I will address in the next post, there are still some areas (including balancing lecture and active learning) in which I hope to improve.


Doyle, T. (2008). Helping students learn in a learner-centered environment: A guide to facilitating learning in higher education. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. 

The elephant in the room: Teaching students who don’t know what’s going on

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 09:00

It’s no secret: not every student will be prepared for every single class. As a law student, you constantly have to make compromises: read a summary instead of the full case, read for crim and not contracts because you have a quiz, read for your 8:30am class on the crowded bus ride there, or ask your friend to fill you in two minutes before the class starts. An important point to stress is that this is not a feature of particular students: we all go through this every now and then, because there is simply not enough time to read everything, all the time.  

Contrary to Ewell & Rodgers, who argue that this phenomenon occurs due to “lack of motivation,” I would venture to say that this is not the case in law school. We all work hard, we all want to learn and most importantly, we are all studious. We are not balancing watching TV with studying, but rather, we are balancing studying a with re-reading b and finishing the assignment for c. At the end of the day, we still study the whole alphabet, just not necessarily before class.

The question remains, can we learn in class without having prepared for it? I posit that learning in the classroom depends on whether the professor understands that sometimes there are students that have no idea what is going on.

The Room

In the context of small group classes as in the Integration Workshop (a course that is part of the first-year law curriculum at McGill), the impact of not preparing for class is greater than in a lecture-based class. Through small group exercises, the professor expects students to teach each other the important components of the course. Indeed, educational research shows that we retain much more information when we teach than when we passively sit in a lecture. However, students who have not prepared for class will not benefit and might even hinder their peers’ learning by not being able to contribute fully to the discussions. A professor who understands this will create a learning environment that is reflective of this inevitable reality.

In my group, it was clear that the professor was quite aware of the elephant. She spent a few minutes at the beginning of each session making sure students were familiar with the topic for the class: she asked leading questions and asked students to summarize key points of the readings; she went through short reminders of the important considerations and asked if anyone had questions. This 10-minute refresher was primordial, as it enabled unprepared students to catch up.

Although not necessarily causal, the results were positive: the students were engaged in their discussions, they taught each other what wasn’t understood by all, and they took time to help students that simply hadn’t read. More than helping each other learn the material, this type of learning also created an environment of cooperation and exchange that contributed to their confidence in making bold or new assertions about the material studied. The issue with this method however is the lack of time. Because the refreshers took time out of the exercise, we often had to rush through the session to make sure we covered all the subject.

The Fine Line

Although professors should be aware of the elephant, I am not suggesting that they should assume that students come unprepared for class. This is a fine line to draw as the best law professors are those who push their students to do better, to be engaged in the classroom and of course, to come to class prepared. Balancing high expectations with reality, without assuming students cannot contribute meaningfully, is what makes a difference in teaching. Through simple refreshers, professors can truly aid students to catch up in the classroom and enable them to contribute in peer-to-peer learning.

By addressing the elephant in the room, we can have an honest discussion about what it means to learn in a law school environment. In my opinion, students who come unprepared to class can be an asset: although they will not be aware of the exact vocabulary stemming from the readings, thanks to the refreshers from the professor, they will be aware of key points. In a small group setting, this will force them to rely on their own experiences to contribute, thereby possibly providing the group with insight not found in the readings. This promotes agency and respect of their intelligence and capability to contribute: it is empowering.

In light of this consideration, should we rethink the law school syllabus to provide for a classroom where preparing for class would be limited to key points or large concepts? What if we strived for a classroom where students could bring their individual life experiences into classroom discussions?


Warren Binford, “How to Be the World’s Best Law Professor

William Henry Ewell & Robert R. Rodgers, “Enhancing Student Preparedness for Class through Course Preparation Assignments: Preliminary Evidence from the Classroom

Michael Hunter Schwartz et al., “What the Best Law Teachers Do

Check out the other posts in the Law series:

Doing research to inform teaching strategies and assessment practices

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 09:00

Alejandra (Sandra) Barriales-Bouche and Sun Young Kim teach Spanish language and German language courses, respectively, in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the Faculty of Arts at McGill. In a conversation about using research to inform teaching strategies, Sandra and Sun Young shared what motivated them to do research with their students and how the research results have informed their teaching. They also offered advice to other instructors considering doing research with their students.

What motivated you to do the research? 

Sandra: We’re always looking for ways to break the routine in class. We wanted to teach vocabulary, in particular, in a more efficient and entertaining way. It happened that Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) invited us to try out a new software tool called Video Assignments (formerly known as YouSeeU) in myCourses. With this software, students can video record their oral presentations and receive instructor and peer comments within the video, all integrated in myCourses. We were keen to try it out and decided this was an opportunity to do some research. 

Sun Young: We wanted to investigate a real problem: students’ public speaking anxiety. We wondered if video presentations would provide students with a less-anxiety causing alternative to in-class presentations. 

Can you say more about the question(s) you were hoping to answer with this research? 

Sun Young: We were curious about a number of things, such as: 

  • How can we use videos in a meaningful and interactive way?
  • How can the use of videos help us engage students? 
  • How will this kind of project help students advance their language skills?
  • How can we motivate students to produce their own texts?
  • How can we address presentation-induced anxieties?

From these questions, we narrowed the focus and arrived at these four research questions:

  1. To what extent does the use of videos help us engage students in meaningful and interactive ways?
  2. Does the video presentation assignment help students advance their language skills? 
  3. To what extent does the videos assignment reduce presentation-induced anxieties?
  4. Does the software support students with succeeding at the video presentation assignment? 

What was your research process? 

Sandra: We began by reading some literature, mainly about the pedagogical benefits of students producing their own videos and about educational constructivism. That helped us to refine and concretize our research questions. After that, we designed video assignments for students to do. We also designed a survey for students to fill in. Once we had the survey results, we analyzed the data and used it to make decisions about the use of videos with our students going forward.

How did you collect data? 

Sandra: We planned a few different oral assessments. In each case, they were worth only a small amount of students’ final course grade, like 2-5%. We also designed a survey which we each gave to more than one of our classes during the last few weeks of the term. The survey was anonymous and made available to students in myCourses. The survey had four Likert-type questions to be answered on a 5-point scale from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). Students could also write comments.

How did you analyze the data? 

Sun Young: We graphed the numeric results (Figures 1 and 2), which helped us to visually analyze the data. Then we looked at the comments, sorting them into positive and negative. 

Figure 1. Numeric results from students in one German course Figure 2. Numeric results from students in one Spanish course

When we analyzed the data, the comments (Figures 3 and 4) helped us understand the numeric results. They helped explain certain ratings. Comments specifically about the presentation and a number of the general comments gave us insight into our first three research questions. Comments about the technology addressed our fourth research question.

Figure 3. Example student comment results from a German course Figure 4. Example student comment results from a Spanish course

What did you learn from the survey results? 

Sun Young: Comments were always fair and constructive. We learned that some students really liked being video recorded and others didn’t. We also learned that not all students like dealing with technology! But the majority of students recommended keeping the assignment in the course because they appreciate having a variety of assessment methods. So we’re thinking the tool could be used to give students an alternative activity. That’s in line with Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which McGill’s Office for Students with Disabilities promotes and which I try to implement in my classes. 

What were students’ reactions to being involved in your research? 

Sandra: They were willing to help throughout the whole process. When there were technology glitches, students were always sympathetic.  

Sun Young: The students were so patient. They saw that we were doing it to improve our teaching, and to help them and maybe future generations improve their learning. I think they enjoyed paying it forward. 

Sandra: And the students got interested in the project because they knew it was a pilot for a tool that could eventually be used by the whole McGill community. They knew that their feedback would be shared with TLS. They really liked that. 

How have you used the results? 

Sun Young: We’ve used the results to inform our teaching. Any modifications I made were based on that data: I thought, “This I should keep; this I shouldn’t.”  

Sandra: For instance, we plan to make assignments more interactive by having pairs or groups of students give presentations. We also got participants’ consent to share their assignments for pedagogical purposes.  

Sun Young: Some past participants also gave me permission to use their videos as models with current students. I always mention to students that the assignment has been modified based on previous students’ comments.  

Sandra: Yes, I always explain why I do what I do. I think students like that we trust them to understand why we do what we do in class, and they like having a say in the content of the class. 

Sun Young: The results were so useful that I will use this process for implementing other teaching strategies that I want to try out. I would tell students what I’m doing and survey them again. We’ve also shared the results of our research with colleagues at the “Language Learning and Technology Professional Development Series” organized by the Arts Multimedia Language Facility. We’re now thinking of doing a presentation at a graduate student orientation in our department so that the grad students who teach can see a new tool.

Sandra: It can be part of their training. 

What advice do you have for instructors who are considering doing research on teaching strategies and assessment practices with their students? 

  • Start with a small project, one that can be done in one semester so that it’s manageable. 
  • Be patient with yourself when trying something new. Changing the usual routine comes with some challenges, but after getting used to the new software, it’s worth trying it out. 
  • Work with a colleague so that you can brainstorm together and support each other when facing technological hurdles. Working as a team can inspire instructors to use the first project as a stepping stone to exploring new research questions and teaching strategies. 

Success story looking for happy ending: Is community-engaged learning in peril at McGill?

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 09:00

My classroom, empty.

This is at least how I found it to be at 2:36 PM on October 2, 2018—day 1 of my students’ “research partnerships,” for lack of a groovier word, (and I have searched some!) with a community-based organization working for social change.

In its current form, the capstone course for students majoring in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist and Social Justice Studies, GSFS 400, is a relatively new class offered at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist studies (IGSF) at McGill. It was designed as such in 2017 by the unforgettable Mary Bunch, now assistant professor in Cinema and Media Arts at York, and in the Fall 2018 it was adapted—with a littl’ extra music—by the musicologist currently on faculty at IGSF… yours truly. Inspired by Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and bell hooks’ description of a liberatory feminist praxis as “action and reflection upon the world in order to transform it,” (Freire in hooks 1994, 112), GSFS 400 builds on the principles of collaboration, partnership, and critical praxis to support interdisciplinary teams of student researchers in the development of a research project that responds to needs defined by a community-based organization working for social change. The research partnerships had been initiated or reactivated the summer before thanks in large part to McGill’s Experiential Community-Engaged Learning & Research (ExCELR) program, hosted at the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) office (beware, more on SEDE below). And after nearly a month of readings, in-class discussions, and guest lectures on the risks and benefits of university-community partnerships, feminist research ethics and design, and how to build respectful research relations, for the first time that day my students were free to meet here or to be where the organisation needed them to be. No need to come to class, I wrote on my syllabus, (although you can—I will be here). 

Luckily for my soon-to-burst empty nest syndrome, at 2:40 PM or so, my all-star team of indigenous feminism critics walked in with a carboard box full of surveys that had been done some time ago with service-users at Quebec Native Women (QNW). No one was quite sure whether or not the answers to the surveys been catalogued and compiled, let alone analyzed and turned into recommendations, grants proposals, or policy changes. That, they did: “data collected from question 11” eventually lead to a fantastic resource handbook aimed at two-spirit service-users at QNW. All the way upstairs in IGSF’s classic “pink office,” my #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork team was plotting on ways to write a Canada-wide report on best practices for emergency night shelters in order to help Montreal-based organisation Chez Doris turn their recent 1,000,000$ donation into an emergency night shelter for women. Soon, the Fab Four that partnered with AIDS Community Care Montreal also came in with—and I recall this distinctly—a willingness to make the research truly transformative that, I was soon learn, would be as strong as a chain that truly has no weaker link.

The team that was partnering with Femmes* en Musique didn’t make it to class that day; they were working on their literature review for a project on gender-, sexuality-, race-, and age-based discrimination in Quebec’s music industry that would turn out to have a wide media appeal (a press conference is to take place at the end of March). The team that worked at the Laboratory for Urban Culture (LUC), an organisation that provides free after school arts programs to kids in the underprivileged neighbourhood of Little Burgundy, didn’t show up either; they found out quickly enough that the Community Youth Arts Network online platform that the LUC had imagined (C.Y.A.N! They had quipped the catchy acronym already!) would have to be scaled “down” to nine hours a week of volunteering with kids without which the programs could not even take place, as well as recommendations for a five-year sustainability plan. A gem amongst gems, the team that partnered with Project 10, an organization that supports and provides services to queer and questioning youth, was likely benefitting that day from the invaluable guidance provided by the superstar coordinator there, regarding how to collect and edit impact stories (#myP10story) as part of their funding & outreach efforts.

Over the following two months, I followed the progress of my students’ research projects through bi-weekly meet-ups, large-group debriefs and workshops, meeting agendas that I could access online, individual self-reflexive journaling, and several installments of research reports that included, among others, ethical considerations, methodology, and an extensive literature review.

Most students were very forward, particularly in their researcher diaries, about how challenging they found the course to be. Many were confronted for the very first time with the emotional labor involved in actually doing social justice work rather than arguing for “theory-from-the-ground-up” in a term paper. Some found teamwork dynamics to be particularly taxing (though not the #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork team, to be sure). Others faced ethical dilemmas with their organisation that made them doubt, at least for a time, their actual commitment to feminist goals. Unanimously, my students found the bridge between theory and practice to be one that was a lot more difficult to build than to critically endorse.

And yet their final journal entries were filled with comments like that of student-researcher Maya Smith, who worked with Chez Doris:

“Throughout this project I have learned so, so much about my preconceived assumptions about homelessness support and care practices. I feel like I went through so many different stages of thinking and rethinking over the last few months and I have been repeatedly challenged. I feel that I entered this project with really lofty, ideological and utopic ideas of how to change the world. And while I think hopes and dreams are definitely important to have, I found myself challenged again and again to reconsider the actual situation on the ground, and how to best address it. At the end of the day, even if I want to take down capitalist racist patriarchy, if there aren’t enough beds in Montreal for all the homeless women in the city, and that’s what homeless women think is needed, then meeting that need should be the goal. I learned how important it is to truly listen to the people you are purporting to be helping, not just in theory, but in actuality.”

Another student-researcher, Corinne Bulger, initially found it difficult to reconcile indigenous feminist scholarship and praxis as a Canadian settler doing research in an indigenous-led organization. “There were times when I felt frustrated or worried about my positionality as a white researcher working with an Indigenous community partner,” she wrote:

“I have felt both my academic focuses, of gender and Indigenous studies, have formalized my ongoing knowledges of ethics and ensuring not to take up space in certain contexts, which at times has left me immobile in moving forward with a research question, project, or even comment out of fear of being inequitable or insensitive. I think this class positively pushed me out of my comfort zones and challenged me to be a more forward researcher and student. I believe that being more forward in my research and study practices is something I need to work on, as I have often found myself being passive or feeling a lack of expertise during my undergrad. Through this course, support from my team, and working with our community partner, I have been encouraged to be more aware of this and challenge myself in the future. Overall, this project has been a wonderful learning experience. I am so grateful for the academic skills it has taught me, as well as the positive relationships I gained with my peers and our community partner.”

Surprisingly, most of my GSFS 400 students—most of whom were in their final year of undergrad—also celebrated their newfound appreciation of teamwork! Student-researcher Elsie Chan described her teammates as “great sources of solidarity, community, and strength,” and spoke of how proud she felt about having “met the goals that I have set up for myself,” “got[ten] outside of my comfort zone,” “challenged myself to do things that I usually try to avoid. . . I am no longer as scared of trying new things,” she concluded, “and cannot wait for what comes next in the future!”

Now, what a success story, you might be thinking; students rising up to the challenges offered by their capstone course and flying out of their undergraduate nests with hope for the future! What a happy ending.

Well, not quite—or, not yet. The recent announcement of the restructuring of SEDE, and in particular the relocation to Enrolment Services of Community Engagement Coordinator Anurag Dhir—who has been building and sustaining university-community partnerships for years—is a harsh blow to community-based learning initiatives at McGill. When I stepped into this course assignment late last summer, I could rely on SEDE to “hop onboard” in 4 out of the 6 partnerships that my students participated in. Beyond the particular circumstances of this course, SEDE creates sustainable community links that allow the university to circumvent the contingencies related to individual faculty members’ particular expertise, availability (maternity leaves, sabbaticals), and familiarity with specific university regulations, including those of McGill’s Research and Ethics Board. Simply put, long-term partnerships are beyond the scope of a single prof. This office is a critical life support for community-engaged education at McGill.

Corinne Bulger was categorical in her assessment of the benefits of university-community partnerships for the whole ecosystem: “I believe that the most positive impact we made was through helping bridge a relationship between Quebec Native Women and McGill. A relationship that will offer beautiful opportunities and resource-sharing in the future. I hope this is something that is sustainable and continuous for future semesters between the two parties.”

And so do I.

McGill has identified community-based learning as a priority. But without an institutional structure responsible for sustaining university-community partnerships beyond single-semester courses, community-engaged learning simply cannot thrive at McGill.

At its best, community-based research does not simply produce new statistical data or reveal how structures of discrimination channel certain lives towards the margins of the citizenry. It does what great music always does (says the musicologist): transport us to another world, compel us to imagine a new social order, and in turn shape that alternative lifeworld. In other words, (actually, the words of another music-and-social-justice scholar, George Lipsitz), “in the process of struggle, scholar-activists develop new ways of knowing as well as new ways of being. . . [in order] to become the kinds of people who can create institutions, practices, beliefs, and social relations capable of generating a more just world” (Lipsitz 2008).

A worthy priority indeed.


hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York, Routledge, 1994.

Lipsitz, George. “Breaking the Chains and Steering the Ship: How Activism Can Help Change Teaching and Scholarship.” In Engaging Contradictions: Theory, Politics, and Methods of Activist Scholarship, edited by Charles R. Hale, pp. 88-112. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2008.

Student quotations used with permission.

A “pass/fail” grading system can be the “A+” grading system for law school

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 09:00

In a recent sociological study, Kathryne M. Young poignantly describes how law students typically feel like hitting an “intellectual wall” when confronted with their first readings and assignments. Additionally, many of them struggle to get over their first grades: they got into law school thanks to an outstanding academic record. Now, they work harder than ever just to fall somewhere in the average “B” range, thanks to the infamous “curve” (or “enforced average”). 

In most law schools, grades cause a disproportionate amount of anxiety among previously overachieving students. Worse, their typically “curved” distribution contributes to a toxic, competitive climate. Many students become obsessed with getting the most impressive letter grades on their transcripts, whether they admit it or not. As such, they begin to focus on “doing better” than their classmates. Such focus unfortunately keeps them from fully appreciating an otherwise enriching individual learning experience.

Experimenting with alternative pass/fail grading

The latter criticisms, among others, have given rise to calls for a reform of the grading system in law faculties for a long time. In the early 70’s, the University of Michigan, for instance, led an experiment to assess the benefits of an alternative Pass/Fail system, in response to consistent complaints from both high-achieving and low-achieving students about grade-induced pressure.

In a nutshell, the experiment revealed that, although finding a replacement to the traditional grading system was indeed desirable, a total Pass/Fail system might feature two main flaws. First, it might decrease the general performance of students, absent any measurable standard to attain. Second, it might diminish already inadequate feedback levels.

In 2012, the University of Toronto’s (U of T’s) Faculty of Law implemented Pass/Fail grading in a way that likely addresses these flaws. For all courses, students now receive one of four grade options ranging from “Low Pass” to “High Honours.” The scale holds students to certain measurable standards, which tempers the likeliness of a decrease in their overall performance. In addition, as professors still have to justify the different “grades” given, general feedback levels unlikely diminish.

Since 2016, McGill Law is similarly experimenting with Pass/Fail grading in the context of its first-year Integration Workshop. In this course, although students are ultimately graded on a Pass/Fail basis, their performance on various assignments is thoroughly assessed and graded with rubrics by Tutorial Leaders (TL) and/or professors. Thus, while students keep working towards meeting certain measurable standards, they are less likely to suffer from the anxiety that curved letter grades typically induce.

Meeting high standards, period

As a TL, I have witnessed how, even when students only need to reach a grade of “7/10” to meet the “Pass” threshold of their first assignment, they still generally aim to write the best possible paper. A majority of them have come to drop-in hours I offer to review the feedback that I had provided. Regardless of their grade, most asked me about every single aspect of their assignment that they could improve.

This experience reveals that a transformation of the traditional approach to grading may also transform students’ approach to learning. The students of my section discussed their assignments with an attitude I wish I had had when I was enrolled in this course myself. Back in my first-year law courses, I would have received a curved letter grade for a similar assignment. I admittedly endeavored to beat the odds that my work would be graded as “average.” The students that I have met this year have worked as hard as I did, but they have channelled the energy that I would have spent worrying about my performance in comparison to others into an endeavor to go beyond their own initial capacities. As one student said to me, “I am not doing this for a grade. I am doing this to improve.”

In other words, a Pass/Fail grading system may transform counterproductive anxiety from the fear of “being average” into productive motivation to simply reach high standards. As a student comments, the most commonly given grade at U of T Law, “Pass with Merit, is exactly what it sounds like: you have passed the course and met the high standards.”

In the long run, would U of T and McGill’s new grading systems effectively reduce the performance-related anxiety experienced by many students?


  1. Robert Lempert, “Law School Grading: An Experiment with Pass-Fail” (1972) 24 Journal of Legal Education 3 at 251. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/42892138
  2. Michael Robert, New Grading System Actually Makes Sense [Blog Post], 2012. Retrieved from http://ultravires.ca/2012/09/new-grading-system-actually-makes-sense/.
  3. Kathryne M. Young, How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018), Chapter 18 (“Exams and Grades”).
Check out the other posts in the Law series:

Peer Assessment in Higher Education: A Viable Inclusive Practice

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 09:00

I believe strongly in encouraging individuality and agency in the classroom. After my own experiences with elementary and secondary education, and the experiences of my peers, in which we often felt in some way misunderstood and unacknowledged by our teachers, it has been important for me to advocate for supporting all types of learners with all types of interests within the classroom. Even without knowing much about theoretical aspects of inclusivity, I strived to provide an equitable classroom during my time as a high school teacher. 

The first time I formally explored inclusivity was about a year after stepping out of my teacher role. I was tutoring a student who was in an Early Childhood Education program. Many of their textbooks reflected the importance of individualized support for young students and inclusivity of all students, regardless of ability or interest. The next time my interest in inclusive practices was piqued was when I joined McGill University’s Assessment and Feedback Group (AFG). Here, I brought my experiences as student and teacher, and my support of inclusive approaches to learning, to the group’s conversations. The group inspired me to do some research into inclusive education practices in post-secondary settings. During this research, I found a practical 2-page article published by Plymouth University entitled “7 Steps to: Inclusive Assessment.” The overview of the article effectively summarizes the aim of an inclusive approach to education: 

“Higher Education (HE) expansion has resulted in greater student diversity. Rather than focusing on specific target groups or dimensions of diversity such as disabled students or cultural groups, an inclusive approach aims to make HE accessible, relevant and engaging for all” (Thomas & May, 2010) (p. 1).

The Plymouth University article was an important find because it highlights a perceived difficulty for instructors in implementing inclusivity in post-secondary environments. As pointed out in the first chapter of the Benson (2013) casebook on inclusive practices in higher education, implementing inclusive practices in higher education often requires staff development, the provision of teaching and student supports, and the development of more inclusive higher education pedagogies. These requirements suggest that implementing inclusive practices is a daunting task. This perceived difficulty has been echoed in conversations at AFG meetings and other conversations that I have had (or overheard) with instructors and students during lectures and workshops on ableism. It’s a perception that can dissuade instructors from adopting inclusive practices. In this post, I will use peer assessment, an assessment strategy mentioned in the Plymouth article, as an example of an inclusive practice that can be implemented in a university setting. I address two characteristics that illustrate inclusion: choice and social interaction. 

Firstly, peer assessment can be considered an inclusive assessment practice through the characteristic of choice. Choice can be offered through peer assessment in a variety of ways. (1) Students can have a say in choosing the criteria that they use to assess one another’s work or the format of the feedback that they will be giving and receiving. (2) Students can also be allowed to choose the peers to whom they will provide feedback and receive feedback from. (3) In the case of teamwork, students can determine the criteria for a team contract and (4) also choose their roles within the team. (5) It might also be possible to offer students the choice of using different technologies, such as audio/video-recordings or online rubrics/forms, to complete the assessment. 

Secondly, peer assessment can be an inclusive assessment practice through the socialization opportunities it provides for students. Students interact with each other when communicating their feedback. Again, in the case of teamwork, students develop their interpersonal skills by working together. Setting team goals and having team accountability are other formative socialization opportunities that can be provided through peer assessment. Peer assessment is participatory; it invites students to take a role in their own and their peers’ academic achievement. As a participatory method, peer assessment invites socialization and the voices of students to be prioritized within the classroom. Accessible and participatory strategies, such as peer assessment, are important to implementing inclusivity in higher education (Benson, 2013). Providing opportunities for social interaction creates an inclusive classroom, as benefits of social interaction can include an increased sense of community and acceptance of all students within the classroom.  

These brief observations regarding two characteristics of peer assessment show the viability of implementing an inclusive assessment practice in higher education classrooms. In general, allowing students choice supports their agency in the classroom and providing students with socialization opportunities helps them develop their interpersonal skills. All students can therefore benefit from engaging in peer assessment. 


Benson, R., Heagney, M., Hewitt, L., Crosling, G., & Devos, A. (2013). Managing and supporting student diversity in higher education: A casebook. Oxford: Chandos Publishing. 

Plymouth University. (2014). 7 steps to: Inclusive assessment. Retrieved from https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/uploads/production/document/path/2/2401/7_Steps_to_Inclusive_Assessment.pdf 

Balancing the Roles of Supervisor, Mentor, and Friend

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 09:00

Mentor. The word itself was originally a name—the name of an advisor in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey who was impersonated by the goddess Athena. The term’s mythical connotations are all but gone now, but it still describes an advisor and teacher.

But we have another term for that in graduate education at many universities: supervisor. The difference is that supervisors usually focus on helping students along the path toward graduation. Mentors make time to guide some of their students in other aspects of their lives.

How? One of my mentors was not my supervisor but a professor from whom I took two or three courses. (One of the courses happened to be on James Joyce’s massive game-changing novel Ulysses, which was based in part on The Odyssey.) After our courses were over, he offered me research assistantships and later helped me to get a job in the instructional development office that complemented my sessional teaching.

These were my day jobs, which I wisely did not quit, but for years I spent many evenings writing music and playing in a band. My mentor too was a musician, a much more accomplished guitarist, and when he launched an album he asked me to play with his group for the occasion. He knew that classical and flamenco were not my forte but thought the experience would be good for me. And it was, perhaps mostly because it was a vote of confidence and a gesture of friendship.

Most supervisors cannot, and probably should not, be friends of all their supervisees. There’s not enough time. There’s also the unavoidable risk of bias. But mentoring has a mode that M. Christopher Brown II calls “frientoring,” which accepts subjectivity as a good thing. Frientoring also attempts to equalize the power differential between mentor and mentee so that they’re equals on a personal level. So, I play tennis and ride road bikes with my local mentors. I still don’t win many sets—but that’s because of my serve, not an institutional dynamic.

Frientoring and mentoring have fewer risks when they can be separated from supervision, which is one reason that supervisory committees are becoming more common than sole supervisors. One supervisor, however multifaceted, simply doesn’t have all the facets that a group does. And if one supervisor can help a student to focus on degree requirements, then another might safely be friendlier.

The mentor can think through longer-term or personal questions with the student: What’s out there after graduation? Who can a person become? The Supervision website at McGill has a page on mentorship that offers many more such questions for mentors and mentees, in addition to lots of other scholarly advice on the roles and responsibilities of supervisors. For alumni and current students, there’s also the Mentor Program at the Career Planning Service.

Wherever you go, and in whichever field, you will find people who have benefited from a mentor and who have grown into that role themselves with time. They attest to a significant need for continuous advice from people who have probably known you only as an adult, and who understand the many phases that adults go through in their careers and personal lives.

Although the original Mentor was a teacher hired by the departing Odysseus to continue the education of his young son Telemachus, most mentors today guide adults. As graduate students gain independence as researchers, mentors become no less important. They are often inspiring, enabling, crucial figures—during and after grad school. In fact, for life.

Original publishing date: April 29, 2014

Strategy Bites: Student-generated questions

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 09:00

At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

 Strategy: Student-generated questions 

The student-generated questions strategy involves getting students to write questions about peers’ oral presentations. The questions are shared among the class for discussion and can be submitted to the instructor, who then has a bank of questions that can be used as prompts for online discussions or even quizzes.

Why use this strategy?

As a student, one of the most disappointing things to observe while giving a presentation is feeling no engagement from your fellow classmates. Some students may be on their phone, some on their laptop, some quite obviously tuned out and staring in to space. While wrapping up the presentation you worked very hard on, you ask if any one has any questions and all you get is dead air. Of course, while the purpose of presentations might be to have students research a topic and practice their presentation skills, the topic itself is usually an important addition to the course content and it should therefore be meaningful to the whole class. So how can you teach your students to be a better audience?

An effective strategy is using student-generated questions – a strategy where students are asked to produce a number of questions during a presentation. The questions can be to clarify a concept, stimulate discussion, or be a potential exam question. By having to actively listen to the presentation and create questions based on the content, it is almost guaranteed that student engagement will improve. During my time in grad school, one of the most important characteristics of our weekly colloquium for thesis defenses was that fellow grad students were required to come up with two questions based on each defense. There was never time to address every question, but each question was to be submitted at the end of the session. This was great way to get everybody to listen and practice some critical thinking.

Having students generate questions is an effective way for students to practice formulating questions. As it is, there’s no such thing as a stupid question; however, the effectiveness of a quality question as a means to stimulate meaningful discussions is undeniably valuable in the learning experience. After all, asking a good question can be just as powerful a learning tool as giving a good answer.

Would you like to know more?
  • Does having students write questions enhance their learning? Read what one author has to say.
  • Students don’t always know how to ask meaningful questions. Strategies exist for helping students learn to ask meaningful questions.
Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:

What strategies do you use to get students to pay attention to peers’ in-class oral presentations?Share your ideas!

Graduate Supervision as Teaching: Let’s talk

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:00

While many professors come to Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) to talk with us about undergraduate teaching, hardly anyone ever comes to talk with us about graduate supervision. Considering how many difficulties can arise when a professor is supervising a student, it is rather surprising to me that the topic does not come up more often during consultations. As a supervisor, you may find yourself wearing many different hats: that of an employer, a guide, a role model, a coach, and occasionally, even a friend. Regardless of your approach to graduate supervision, it is essentially a form of teaching. What you are teaching will depend on your discipline as well as the skills the supervisee already brings to the table. It can involve anything from identifying pertinent research questions to choosing the right audience for a publication. In addition to the disciplinary knowledge, teaching may also include time management and organisational skills, the ability to communicate research results and the resilience to deal with setbacks.

Whether research takes place in a library, a lab, or the field, your role as a supervisor is to help students on their journey to becoming independent researchers and, importantly, to obtaining a graduate degree. I am mentioning the latter because it is surprisingly easy to lose sight of the fact that your supervisee’s journey should not meander aimlessly from one interesting topic to the next, but rather follow a curriculum with predefined milestones. Due to the unpredictable nature of research, developing the curriculum and keeping students on track can be challenging. To help you with this task, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) has developed myProgress, an online tool that allows you and your supervisees to keep an eye on their progress towards obtaining their degree. “I expect my students to monitor their own progress,” some of you may interject at this point. That raises important questions: What are your expectations for your graduate students and what can they expect from you as their supervisor? Responsibilities in graduate supervision are often not clear-cut. For example, everyone agrees that you are supposed to provide support to your supervisee, but what kind of support and how much? Are we talking about comments on a research paper or emotional support after the rejection of a conference abstract? What kind of support will actually help your supervisees succeed? While there are no simple answers to these questions, the supervision team is here to help. Together, TLS and GPS, have developed a variety of resources and workshops to help you navigate the supervisory role right from the start.

If you are curious about approaches to supervision taken by award-winning supervisors at McGill, take a look at their profiles on the Supervision Snapshots website. The site features the winners of the Carrie M. Derick Award and the David Thomson Award for Graduate Supervision and Teaching at McGill since 2016. If you would like an opportunity to talk with some of these supervisors in person and learn about their experiences, join us at TLS on April 12 for the Supervisors’ Lunch. Whether you are looking for advice or have a successful supervision strategy that you would like to share, this event is your chance to talk to colleagues from across the university. For more information or to register, click here.

Before you go “On your mark …”: Instructors and constructive feedback

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 09:00

According to students, the most significant task an instructor has is to provide feedback. Recently, I, myself, had the occasion to go through that experience while correcting my students’ case briefs. As a student and now a Tutorial Leader (TL) (in the Integration Workshop for first-year law students at McGill), I am now in a better position to consider feedback from all angles.  

While instructors seem to agree with the importance of providing justified feedback, often, students do not—they are unable to understand the relevance of their feedback. Are marking grids straitjackets restricting instructors in doing so? Or should we look at some deeper individual considerations, like one’s attitude towards marking? 

What should feedback consist of?

Literature offers evidence of preference for advisory feedback, better known as constructive feedback, over evaluative feedback. The former perceives the assignment as a springboard to self-transcendence while the latter only sees it as an end in itself—an approach that isolates the assessment under review from the student’s broader academic journey. More than providing a mere snapshot of a student’s past performance, advisory feedback, also known as assessment for learning, highlights the weakness of students and suggests approaches they need to pursue in order to improve.

In terms of undergraduate studies in Law, instructors need to provide evaluative feedback by submitting a grade at the end of the term. Grades matter a lot for law students because of the highly competitive nature of opportunities like jobs in law firms, judicial clerkships and graduate studies. Nonetheless, evaluative feedback is not the only type of feedback that instructors should be providing; advisory feedback must also be provided and is where the focus should be. And the reason behind this focus is the emphasis placed on students’ writing. In the course of their academic tenure, students acquire knowledge and learn concepts, but also develop skills—which most are in the process of perfecting. This is especially true in Law, where students are working on their legal writing and reasoning techniques throughout their studies and beyond. Thus, if instructors wish for the meaningful improvement of their students’ skills, one way to make this happen is to implement a marking rubric encouraging advisory feedback.

Think before you mark: The first step to meaningful feedback 

While rubrics cannot be viewed as the only solution to bolster academic success, rubrics are potentially useful in this matter. Nowadays, an increasing number of instructors are marking their students’ assignments with the help of rubrics. I also had the opportunity to rely on that tool to evaluate my group’s 21 case briefs, where I can say that it is challenging to implement both types of feedback. My focus leaned more towards attributing the right mark in each category rather than on the areas where there is room for improvement. The grid, simultaneously, draws you closer towards evaluative feedback but detracts your attention from advisory feedback.

Marking grids should be devised as tools that work towards providing better advisory feedback. In order to do so, it requires instructors to take students’ assessment seriously and do it with the right mindset. Indeed, when an instructor marks without the clear intention to help students improve the work they submitted, it becomes easier to be distracted from assessment for learning and revert to evaluative feedback. This is often the case when an instructor treats grading with disgust: instead of taking the time to write insightful feedback, the instructor is likely to rush through the task, which deprives students of the help they rightfully deserve.

In conclusion, after my first marking experience, I believe that the solution to seeing more advisory feedback from instructors is a student-centered approach towards teaching. In other words, we, instructors and TLs, must keep the student in mind in every single aspect of our pedagogy. On that note, my post leaves one question for you, Teaching for Learning @ McGill blog followers: Is assessment for learning enough of a reason to make marking more enjoyable or, at the very least, get instructors to swallow that pill?

Check out the other posts in the Law series:

Strategy Bites: The muddiest point

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 09:00

At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Strategy: Muddiest point

With this strategy, students write down at the end of a class period or a module what was most confusing to them. Students can submit their muddiest points on paper or online in myCourses. You can subsequently use students’ feedback as entry points for discussion.

Why use this strategy?

As the idiom goes – it’s as clear as mud! As an educator, this is not exactly what you’re hoping for at the end of a class, module or course. You probably aim for your students to succeed. You want them to walk away with meaningful knowledge, useful tools and a sense of clarity of the subject at hand. Sometimes, however, as polished as your teaching methods may seem, not all students will “get it.”

This strategy gets students to engage in some reflection, similarly to the One Minute Paper, but students consider what they had the most difficulty understanding rather than what they learned. Instructors tend to be good at addressing obvious misconceptions that students have, but they don’t necessarily pick up on the less obvious areas that students might struggle with. Muddiest point responses might show recurring points of confusion, so this strategy can therefore also inform your teaching. Perhaps the students need more examples. Perhaps a visual demonstration would be helpful. The muddiest point strategy allows you to keep an open line of communication between you and your students.

Like many of the teaching strategies I’ve written about, the muddiest point strategy is a safe opportunity for those students who are a little more hesitant to raise their hand in class and say that they don’t understand. Furthermore, if students are told they will be asked to identify their muddiest point beforehand, they may be more likely to pay attention to their ability to understand the material. It gives them an opportunity to self-assess. Assessing what one hasn’t learned: what a valuable way to improve learning!

Would you like to know more?

“Everybody with Me?” and Other Not-so-useful Questions – A case for using the muddiest point strategy

Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:

How do you get your students to reflect on the past so that they can move forward with their learning?Share your ideas!

Giving pass-fail grading a pass

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:00

Pass-fail grading is commonly presented as an alternative to letter grading that can minimize student stress and anxiety. In their article, Spring et al. (2011) assess the impact of pass-fail grading on medical students’ well-being and academic outcomes. The authors explain that the positive outcomes typically associated with pass-fail grading are a “leveling of the playing field” for incoming medical students with a variety of academic backgrounds and encouragement of collaboration. Those who raise concerns about pass-fail grading fear a decline in class attendance, academic performance, licensing exam scores and residency placements. 

As of 2016, the Integration Workshop, the legal methodology and research course for first-year McGill law students, is graded on a pass-fail basis. Students can develop the skills essential to good lawyering without the typical competitive pressure and are even given many chances to turn a fail on an assignment into a pass (either by re-doing the assignment or completing additional coursework). As a Tutorial Leader (TL) for this course, I have observed the positive aspects of pass-fail grading and I am learning techniques to encourage student motivation and performance.

McGill law students are an incredibly academically diverse cohort. Some students have entered law school directly from CEGEP whereas others have multiple degrees and work experience. Students come from all kinds of previous studies, including humanities, engineering, business or even medicine. Pass-fail grading levels the playing field because it allows students to focus on their own skills without worrying about their strength in comparison to others. Students of all ages and academic backgrounds eagerly participate in class discussions and are unafraid to ask questions. Allowing students to re-submit assignments also contributes to a leveling of the playing field because it gives students with weaker performance a chance to learn from their mistakes and achieve the same academic standing as their peers. I have noticed that students who did not pass their first assignment did not repeat the same mistakes on their second and third assignments. I am impressed by the improvement demonstrated by these students.

One of the concerns that someone might raise about pass-fail grading is the negative impact it could have on student motivation. However, such an impact has failed to materialize in my Integration Workshop section. I believe that although grades can be an effective motivator, student motivation can come from a variety of sources. Seeking alternative sources should be encouraged as grades have been shown to instill low self-esteem and feelings of unfairness in law students at McGill. With this in mind, I have tried to understand what keeps my students motivated. I have noticed that an important source of motivation is a student’s appreciation of the utility and long-term benefit of listening in class and completing their assignments. An important part of the Integration Workshop sessions is that at the beginning of each session, the instructor explains to the students why they are learning a certain skill and how it will help them become better jurists. This is very important for students as it gives them a justification to use their time and energy for a class that will not affect their grade-point average. My experience has shown me that the fear of declining student motivation is unfounded because there are other ways to keep law students focused and on task. It seems to me that an added benefit of these alternative methods is that they are less likely to affect a student’s self-esteem.

In sum, being a TL has shown me that pass-fail grading can inspire positive student behaviour and performance without reducing motivation. What additional creative methods to motivate students in a pass-fail system can you think of?

Check out the other posts in the Law series:

Using in-class discussions to focus peer assessment

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 09:00

A number of instructors at McGill have been implementing peer assessment (PA) in their courses and have generously shared some of their reflections on the experience.

Professor Allison Gonsalves teaches Sociocultural and Epistemic Perspectives on Math and Science (EEC 646), a graduate-level course in the Faculty of Education. She recently shared how and why she has implemented PA in this course, and offered advice to other instructors considering implementing PA in their courses.

For which assignment did you implement PA?

In the course, we explored theoretical perspectives on science and math education. For the final paper, each student chose and synthesized a topic relating to a sociocultural issue in math and science education, explained how it addressed course content, and linked it to a concrete education example. For instance, a student might write about feminist perspectives on science and talk about the under-representation of women in physics.

Why did you have students do PA?

There were a few reasons:

  • I wanted students to engage with each other’s work because they are in a cohort together and I think it’s important to foster a culture of sharing work.
  • I like giving students the opportunity to give feedback on each other’s work because students bring a lot of knowledge to class. It would feel weird for me to be the only one giving feedback.
  • Because it’s a graduate class, structuring this assignment as engagement with the PA process allowed students to start thinking about the kinds of things you would look for if you were reviewing submissions for a journal, and how you would respond to critical feedback from reviewers.
How was PA implemented?

The process took place over several weeks:

Step When 1.      Choose a topic; draft a paper October 2.      Discuss paper prior to reading Early November 3.      Engage in peer assessment Mid-November 4.      Revise paper; respond to peer assessment; submit Early December
  1. Choose a topic and draft a paper: Each student chose a topic of interest and drafted their paper according to the instructions.
  2. Discuss: Each student chose a partner. Because it was a small, upper-level group of students, I often asked students to self-organize. They had 30 minutes each to talk about their papers in these pairs in class before they read one another’s papers. During that discussion, each student shared: the topic of their paper, their main argument, and the research they had done. They also shared what they saw as their paper’s strengths and weaknesses, what they struggled with in writing their paper, and where they needed help.
  3. Peer assessment: Each student read the other student’s paper. Then, student reviewers had to:
  • List three strengths or things that they liked about the paper, and three weaknesses or areas where they thought the paper needed improvement.
  • Summarize the author’s argument in the reviewer’s own words, describing what they saw as the take-home message. If they were having difficulty doing that, then they had to explain why that was difficult for them. Seeing how somebody else summarizes their work—and whether it’s consistent with how they would have summarized it—can be helpful feedback for the author.

The in-class discussion helped focus the reviewer’s feedback so the reviewer could then say, “I know what this paper is supposed to be about…does it do the things that the author wants it to do? And if the author is struggling, what feedback could I offer to support them in developing their ideas?”

  1. Revise paper; respond to peer assessment; submit: The author revised the paper further to their peer’s feedback and wrote a one-page letter to their peer indicating how they addressed their feedback. The students then submitted their draft paper, peer feedback, letter, and final paper to me.
Why did you decide to include the discussion step as part of PA?

Sometimes when I’m reading students’ papers, it can be hard to figure out what a student’s argument is. When that happens, I feel like if I could just sit down and have a conversation with the student, I would better understand their paper. I wanted to give the students that opportunity to describe what their thesis argument was so that a student reviewer could then read the paper and see if what their peer wrote reflected what their peer had described.

It also fits well pedagogically with “ambitious teaching,” which is the kind of science teaching I do – it includes the idea that students learn science best by talking about important science ideas. It’s based on understanding that when people want to formulate ideas, they may do it best when they’re verbalizing it, so it gives them two opportunities to express their ideas: verbally and in writing.

Can you say more about the letter format, when the author responds to the reviewer?

This is similar to what you’d do when reviewing a manuscript for a journal. The reviewer often took a lot of time, reading a 12-15 page paper and giving lots of feedback. The letter lets the reviewer know that the author has engaged with their feedback and it’s a way of showing appreciation for the time spent reviewing.

Sometimes when I say that we’re going to do a critical review of a journal article or of somebody’s draft, students think it means that they need to really criticize, in a negative sense. That’s not the intent, and responding to feedback in a letter format helps to maintain a better tone. It puts the critique in a more positive light by signaling through the format that it’s a constructive review process.

How was the PA graded?

Completing the PA was worth 10%. Students identified three things they liked about the writing and three areas for improvement:

The author’s letter explaining how they took into account each aspect of the reviewer’s feedback was worth 5%. If the author addressed each aspect of the reviewer’s feedback, either explaining how they integrated it or why they didn’t integrate it, they would get the 5%.

What advice do you have for instructors considering doing PA in their course for the first time?

Perhaps take a look at journals or books in your discipline and see how editorial boards ask reviewers to respond to writing, and then structure the assignment in a similar way that’s appropriate to your genre or disciplinary field.

The assignment needs to be very clear and detailed. Rather than just saying “Review the paper and then give feedback,” try guiding students towards what you want them to reflect on. Otherwise they may not be as focused in their feedback. Giving students examples and suggestions for what they can look for and how they can structure a response is also helpful. Having a clear, detailed assignment with specific expectations also helps you to evaluate students’ responses.

Readers: Want to learn more about peer assessment? Check out Teaching and Learning Services’ other peer assessment resources.

Wonder What Happened at McGill’s Beyond Grading Symposium on Assessment?

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 09:00

On a cold, blustery December 7th, nestled in the warmth of McGill’s New Residence Hall ballroom, with croissant and coffee in hand, I had the privilege to attend the Beyond Grading: Effective Assessment Strategies for Better Learning symposium. This university-wide event, organized by TLS and McGill’s Assessment and Feedback Group, offered a full day of sharing and learning about creative and effective assessment strategies to improve students’ learning and motivation. Through panel and round-table discussions, the symposium showcased the wealth of strategies used across disciplines at McGill, in both large and small classes.

As I began my day at the symposium, a couple of key questions lingered in my mind: “How well are we doing our job to teach students?” and “What are students really getting out of their assessments?” Lucky for me, my questions were about to be answered.

Two panel discussions, including both instructors and students, provided interesting perspectives on effective assessment practices, as well as the challenges faced and suggestions for improvement. The underlying takeaway from these discussions was that assessment is more than assigning a grade.
The goal of grading is to evaluate student learning, meanwhile the reason for feedback is to improve it. Fairness and transparency play a significant role in all of this and were an important part of the panel discussions. Uncertainty about the goals and criteria of an assessment can create a lot of unnecessary stress and demotivation. Therefore, being open and clear about how and why students are assessed contributes greatly to what makes the grades and feedback they receive meaningful.

Concerns about ensuring that the assessments we administer are equitable to students were also voiced. As Paul Hooley, undergraduate student, Faculty of Engineering, said “When you put 25-30 hours into an assignment and are proud of the result, it’s upsetting if it’s only worth 5% of your grade.” Ways in which we can improve learning outcomes without increasing student anxiety are key and the need for more formative assessments to help improve learning outcomes was suggested. Howard Li, undergraduate student in the Faculty of Science, explained how small, frequent quizzes in one of his classes helped him “stay motivated and on track.”

Round table discussions offered an opportunity to examine contemporary practice-based initiatives. The three round tables that I attended provided me with stimulating perspectives on how to better support students in their learning with creative assessment activities and multi-stage, formative feedback:

Table 9: How can you provide students with immersive learning experiences relevant to out-of-class situations? 

Pierre Forest, Lecturer, Career and Professional Development, School of Continuing Studies, provided a presentation on how he uses in-class simulations and role playing as an opportunity for feedback that students can then apply to an assignment. What stood out to me was how giving students the opportunity to practice key concepts and refine them based on feedback significantly increased their interest and involvement in the course. Another key takeaway was the way in which he accommodates different personality styles by offering a multitude of activity options for both extroverts and introverts so that all students can feel engaged in the course.

Table 7: How can feedback from lay readers enhance students’ writing?

Terry Hébert, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, explained how his students transform scientific articles written for academic audiences into articles which are suitable for lay audiences. Students submit multiple versions of the same article and receive feedback from lay readers on the effectiveness of their communication. Students revise their work accordingly and submit drafts at different stages for evaluation. This provides a richer learning experience for the students and allows them to reflect upon and correct any issues as they progress through the course.

Table 8. How can you create opportunities for students to revise their work?

Diane Dechief, Faculty Lecturer, McGill Writing Centre, offered a detailed glimpse into the types of activities she has designed to allow her student to receive feedback at different stages in their work.

Having students work on multi-stage assignments, such as allowing them to write drafts, gives them the opportunity to make errors, and receive clear and constructive feedback on what they can do to improve their work. This allows them to reflect on their learning, clarify any ambiguities and help build their confidence.

These round table discussions, along with the panels, presentations and informal networking that occurred throughout the day were enlightening and provided a multitude of ideas on how to integrate different assessment strategies. What stood out most for me was how valuable creative assessment activities are in helping students engage in deeper learning. Activities such as role playing, simulations, calibration sessions, real-world problems and introducing elements of surprise into a course not only make the course more entertaining and fun for the students (and instructor!) but also allow students to further advance their learning.

The open and supportive environment provided at the symposium offered a tremendous way to share and learn about creative assessment practices at McGill, as well as allowed me to better appreciate how we can improve the ways in which we assess our students.

Réfléchir comme un avocat : Réflexion sur l’acquisition des habiletés pratiques dans les ateliers d’intégration

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 09:00

Dans ce billet, je me penche sur la distinction souvent faite entre l’apprentissage de notions dites « pratiques » et celles dites « théoriques ». Les facultés de droit sont un terrain privilégié pour l’étude de cette distinction, puisqu’elles sont un passage obligé pour exercer certaines professions juridiques au pays ; l’apprentissage de notions « pratiques » jouit ainsi d’une place non négligeable dans les curriculums.

Le 31 juillet dernier, en apprenant que j’allais enseigner les ateliers d’intégration avec le professeur Mills, j’ai rapidement cherché à en apprendre davantage sur ses recherches. En quelques clics, je suis tombé sur son article publié dans la Revue de droit de McGill, The Lifeworlds of Law, qui se distingue de la doctrine juridique que j’ai l’habitude de lire. Suivant une méthode narrative et critique, le professeur Mills revient sur les différentes embuches rencontrées pendant ses études en droit et met en lumière le caractère nocif que peut avoir l’éducation juridique. Si ses pensées laissent transparaître des talents d’écriture et d’introspection remarquables, les phrases « I hated my first year of law school »  et « I never learned to think like a lawyer » (Mills, 2016) ont eu tôt fait de me préoccuper : les ateliers d’intégration n’ont-ils pas comme objectif d’introduire les étudiants de première année aux rudiments de la pratique juridique ? Un professeur ayant une approche théorique et critique à l’égard du droit trouvera-t-il intuitif d’enseigner à rédiger un mémorandum ou un factum selon les standards de la pratique ?

Septembre venu, je fus vite rassuré par la rigueur avec laquelle le professeur Mills abordait la matière. Peut-être même que le professeur Mills sait plus réfléchir comme un avocat qu’il ne le croit. Avant chaque atelier, il dresse une liste d’éléments que les étudiants devront développer, comme l’identification des faits pertinents et des questions en litige d’un jugement ou encore les techniques de rédaction juridique. Son approche méthodique à la matière veille au développement chez chacun d’une boîte à outils permettant de réussir dans toutes les sphères du droit, qu’elles soient académiques ou professionnelles.

Or, l’apprentissage d’un savoir pratique brusque souvent les étudiants venus à McGill dans l’espoir de tirer profit d’une approche plus théorique à l’étude du droit. Leur malaise est d’ailleurs flagrant durant les ateliers d’intégration quand leurs commentaires portent moins sur l’identification des règles juridiques résultant des jugements que sur la remise en question de la valeur morale de ces règles. Cette observation fait d’ailleurs écho à bon nombre de discussions que j’ai eues avec des étudiants de première année qui, après à peine cinq semaines de cours, doutent déjà de leur capacité à se conformer à la rigueur de la méthodologie juridique ou, en d’autres mots, à réfléchir comme des avocats.

En réfléchissant à la réponse que je pourrais leur donner pour les encourager, je me suis rappelé les écrits de la professeure Matsuda que j’ai eu la chance de lire durant ma première année à la Faculté. Il m’était intéressant de puiser mon inspiration dans ce qu’une figure phare des Critical Legal Studies avait à dire sur l’éducation juridique. Dans When the First Quail Calls : Multiple Consciousness as Jurisprudential Method, elle explique que les étudiants qui ont habituellement le plus de difficulté avec le droit sont ceux qui essaient de trouver une logique dans la matière qui leur est proposée, de tout comprendre, « to make it all make sense » (Matsuda, 1992). Aussi provocante que puisse paraître cette idée, j’en conclus que pour bien entamer ses études en droit, mieux vaut apprendre à mettre en veille son analyse critique d’une situation et accepter, telle quelle, l’information qui nous est enseignée. Il faudrait désapprendre à critiquer ; un passage temporaire, mais obligé. La meilleure des critiques est celle qui touche le droit dans sa substance, c’est vrai, mais qui sait aussi s’exprimer selon le langage, les codes, et les procédures de la pratique juridique. Mes étudiants ont un obstacle de taille à surmonter. De mon côté, il me reste à savoir comment les accompagner dans leur désapprentissage.

Check out the other posts in the Law series:


Mari J Matsuda, « When the First Quail Calls: Multiple Consciousness as Jurisprudential Method », Yale Law School Conference on Women of Color and the Law, présentée à l’École de droit de l’Université Yale, 1988 (1992) 11:1 Women’s Rts L Rep 297 à la p 298.

Aaron Mills, «The Lifeworlds of Law: On Revitalizing Indigenous Legal Orders Today » (2016) 61:4 RD McGill 847 à la p 849.

Sharing our research, 3 minutes at a time

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 09:00

What can you teach me in 3 minutes? The learning implications of discovering multitasking neurons in the prefrontal cortex? The social impacts of neoliberal economic policies in post-Mao China? How about the nature of energy-storage limitations that hold back complete transitions to renewable resources like solar energy? What about an entire PhD thesis? Better yet, could you teach a 5th grader an entire PhD thesis in just 3 minutes?

Every year, graduate students from across McGill come together to explain their thesis research in a way that anybody can understand. The catch? They only have three minutes and one slide to do it. This is McGill’s 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition and this year it will take place March 12th in Tanna Schuclich Hall. Every year, Teaching and Learning Services and Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies collaborate to coach over 100 graduate students in delivering a 3MT. In the 2019 competition, 18 graduate students will compete in English and French for the top prize and the chance to compete at the national level.

Originating from the University of Queensland in 2008, today over 650 universities across the world host a 3MT competition. The competition challenges graduate students to make their research accessible and understandable to a non-specialist audience (i.e., anyone not in their field), while not sacrificing communicating their methods, results, and the broader implications of their work. A panel of judges decides the winners based on how well the presenter engaged the audience, the comprehensiveness of their presentation, and their ability to communicate the research clearly and concisely.

McGill’s 3MT participants attend two or more training sessions, which include multiple opportunities for practice and peer feedback (written and oral) to hone their public speaking skills and develop their 3MT presentation. In addition to comments from fellow participants, Teaching and Learning Services staff and student employees, as well as several communication experts from across campus, provide coaching throughout the process. Each presenter is filmed delivering their 3MT and while receiving oral feedback from their peers and coaches. While many participants are apprehensive about watching themselves on video, they regularly cite reviewing these videos and the feedback as the most useful aspect of the training.

While the competition is fun and full of pithy presentations from young experts that fill the audience with hope, the students’ acquisition and mastery of knowledge mobilization (KMb) skills throughout the training is the most valuable lesson learned through 3MT. With respect to academia, KMb is the concept of sharing research widely to build awareness and enable informed action (researchimpact, 2014). The importance of decentralizing academic knowledge from the ivory tower and making it accessible to the broader public is crucial to creating a well-informed citizenry; a goal that becomes increasingly difficult in the era of foreign propaganda on Facebook and widespread distrust of traditional authorities, such as government and academia.

Beyond the 3MT, KMb has become a standard component of many research-funding applications, including SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR. Funders want the results of the research to have the maximum impact, which means sharing the results as widely as possible while maintaining the nuance and cautious certainty of academia. Science communication to a non-scientific audience, KMb by a different name, is sometimes a learning outcome for undergraduate science programs (Ferris, 2019).

Teaching and Learning Services supports several research initiatives and courses across campus to help students develop their KMb abilities. For instance, Prof. Paul Yachnin assigns his English students the task of delivering a 10-minute presentation (without notes) on whether the works of Shakespeare are still relevant to today’s society. The students participate in a modified 3-Minute Thesis workshop to prepare. Yet, the 3-Minute Thesis is just one tool that educators can use to build their students’ KMb skills; it is by no means the only initiative at McGill to promote KMb. For instance, Prof. Terry Hebert requires his pharmacology students to “translate” scientific articles into laymen terms (Xing, 2016). And students in Diane Dechief’s CCOM 314 course at the McGill Writing Centre have to record a podcast to educate Montreal high school students in science (Samuel, 2017).

In a world where the integrity of our media, academic institutions, and science as a whole are questioned, academics have an increasing responsibility to share their research with the public in a manner that is both transparent and easy to understand. Teaching and Learning Services is willing to support any instructors looking to incorporate the 3MT principles of brevity, comprehensibility, clarity, and explaining implications for broader society into their class assignments, as well as other opportunities for KMb in the classroom.

If you want to see knowledge mobilization in action, be sure to attend the 3MT finals this year!

Photo credit: Gabriel Helefant

Breakfast Reboot: How one student improved peer tutoring on campus

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 09:00

Pierre Theo Klein, an honours student in Cognitive Science described the way he digitized and streamlined the Computer Science Undergraduate Society (CSUS) Helpdesk, touching on the challenges of tutoring in an “Age of Technology” at the November 7, 2018 Breakfast Reboot. Because of his hard work, the Helpdesk went from one or two tutors at a table in a communal space to a team of tutors in a dedicated space with an online schedule.

The CSUS Helpdesk is a volunteer-based peer-to-peer tutoring service for computer science students. Undergraduate students volunteer to tutor their peers in courses they have passed. The Helpdesk is walk-in only, with students working with a tutor if one is available and has passed the course they need help with. When Pierre first started volunteering, he was struck by how inconvenient this was: students looking for tutoring did not know which tutor would be present, what courses they had successfully completed, and the Helpdesk was located in a cramped, loud space. Pierre took on the challenge of improving the Helpdesk. He explained that he obtained funding through the Tomlinson Engagement Award for Mentoring, as well as a budget from the Computer Science Undergraduate Society, and implemented three major changes:

  1. He recruited more tutors and requested they create a profile on the website detailing the courses they have successfully completed.
  2. He updated the website to include the tutors’ profiles and times they would be at the Helpdesk.
  3. He obtained a room on the third floor of the Trottier building.

While the changes he implemented have been well received, there are still some challenges Pierre would like to address:

  • The tutors are required to be on-site during the times indicated in their profiles. However, with no real supervisor on site, tutors are not necessarily accountable. In the future, Pierre would like to develop a way to better track attendance by having tutors scan in and out of the Helpdesk using their McGill ID.
  • Improved access to the Helpdesk means more students are able to seek out tutoring, which can sometimes lead to rushes and overcrowding. Upon arriving at the Helpdesk, students must let one of the tutors know they would like to meet with somebody. This can create some challenges: tutors sometimes get interrupted by walk-ins while they are working with someone else, and introverted students can find approaching the tutors intimidating and overwhelming. Pierre would like to develop a mobile app that would manage the space and allow students to join a virtual queue: instead of flagging tutors down, students could indicate their presence at the Helpdesk on the app, which would signal the tutors that students are waiting.

With a view to making yet more improvements to the CSUS Helpdesk, Pierre has created a feedback form to consistently track users’ experience. He also hopes that his peers will continue to improve the Helpdesk after he graduates from McGill.


Featured image from the Breakfast Reboot Facebook event.

Strategy Bites: Brainstorming

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 09:00

At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

 Strategy: Brainstorming

Brainstorming involves students generating ideas in response to a specific prompt. Be sure to set a time limit for this activity. Afterward, you might want to do a whole-class debrief for a broader sharing of ideas.

Why use this strategy?

If you’ve ever had to solve a problem, you’ve probably participated in a brainstorming session. I can confidently say I have brainstormed solutions in many different contexts – with others in classes, workshops, meetings and even on my own. If done effectively, this strategy can generate lots of actionable ideas.

In my experience, brainstorming works best in small groups. Why? First off, having a large number of students shouting responses at once is likely not an effective way to pull out meaningful responses. It can be disorganized and easily get out of control. Additionally, as one of the quieter students in a classroom, having the confidence to voluntarily share my ideas in front of everyone has always seemed particularly daunting. Having to be more aggressive about it in order to be heard, even worse. A smaller, more intimate group offers a more welcoming environment for everybody, allowing each voice to be heard.

What I like best about brainstorming is that there is no wrong answer. It encourages people to think freely and critically, be creative and use their personal experience to present their unique ideas. It also encourages collaboration, creating a positive working atmosphere. Students can become invested in this activity because they feel like they are involved in finding a solution to the problem. Most importantly, every idea, and therefore every student, is valuable to the learning experience.

Would you like to know more?
  • Brainstorming can be done in a variety of ways. Read about 5 brainstorming techniques that can help students get started with writing papers.
Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:


Succeeding on Multiple-Choice Exams: A new SKILLS21 workshop for students

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 09:00

Many are probably familiar with the idiom about the certain inevitability of death and taxes.  For undergraduates, particularly in the earlier stages of their academic journey, there is another absolute: multiple-choice exams. To mitigate this inevitability, and to build students’ capacity for succeeding on these types of exams, McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) is now offering a new, 90-minute workshop: Strategies for Succeeding at Multiple Choice Exams.

The multiple-choice question (MCQ) is an effective and versatile assessment strategy. For example, an exam composed of MCQs can align with any level of cognitive complexity covered under Bloom’s Taxonomy (excluding creating); but this is, in part, what makes such exams difficult for test-takers. Other challenges can include discerning the ‘best answer’ while simultaneously rising to the task of higher-order learning or choosing between more than five alternatives. But, perhaps the most general and pressing challenge from the student’s perspective is that not all MCQs are created equal – for students, there will be good questions and there will be bad poorly constructed and ineffective questions. Given this reality, how can we provide support for students so that they’re capable of demonstrating their learning through MCQs without being confused?

 Strategies for Succeeding at Multiple Choice Exams aims to support students’ ability to approach MCQs by strategically preparing for exams, applying practical and effective techniques in answering questions by breaking them down, and understanding how to use exam results to enhance overall learning. There are two essential components to this workshop that make it a novel approach to McGill’s culture around teaching and learning. First, the workshop draws from a staple TLS-offering for instructors on this same topic: Designing Effective Multiple-Choice Exams (MCQs). As a result, the message around MCQs is aligned for both students and instructors, which contributes to coherent messaging on this topic within the McGill teaching and learning context. Second, the main takeaway for students is a technique captured by the acronym READY, which stands for read, examine, alternative, delete, and yield. In brief, READY is a critical thinking process that allows test-takers to go step-by-step through a challenging question, one which helps the students who have studied engage in a way that can demystify the question’s potentially confusing aspects. Instructors have to use multiple-choice exams and students have to take them, so the workshop provides the strategies for students to navigate the MCQ and demonstrate what they know through their exams.

To conclude: although legal considerations inhibit any ability to avoid taxes, and practicing existentialists are still working on the inevitable reality of human finitude, the least we can do, as student learning and development professionals, is provide solid support to undergraduate students and their success in dealing with their inevitable reality: the multiple-choice exam.

 McGill instructors interested in recommending this workshop to their students can encourage them to get started by registering for SKILLS21.



McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

L'Université McGill est sur un emplacement qui a longtemps servi de lieu de rencontre et d'échange entre les peuples autochtones, y compris les nations Haudenosaunee et Anishinabeg. Nous reconnaissons et remercions les divers peuples autochtones dont les pas ont marqué ce territoire sur lequel les peuples du monde entier se réunissent maintenant.