Casey McArdle (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) has more than ten years experience teaching writing at various institutions, from technical and community colleges to four-year institutions including Ball State and Michigan State University. He found particular success with Eli while teaching a first-year writing course at Michigan State.
McArdle talks about teaching students to read scientific prose using Eli:
I had students work together to analyze assigned texts and then post their analyses in Eli. They then reviewed one another and rated the feedback they received. Students with the most highly-rated feedback presented to the class. Students struggling with the concepts of analysis and giving feedback got to see models from their classmates, both successful and unsuccessful, that then helped them learn about the genre and give better feedback in future reviews.
McArdle also found success using Eli to teach his students to align their feedback with course learning goals:
By asking questions about outcomes within reviews, students and I can see if they have achieved the basic requirements of the assignment. For example, I require students to interview professors and professionals in their discipline as well as providing examples of writing and research conducted within the discipline. Simple questions of whether or not writers met these requirements can be easily answered by reviewers. Larger questions can also be asked concerning their use of the research to support their arguments. Some questions I used Eli to answer include:
- How do the interviews support the point illustrated by the author?
- What external research was used to supplement examples given by the author?
- How is this an accurate/inaccurate representation of the discipline?
- What would you suggest to improve accuracy?
As students assess the writing of their peers, they begin to assess their own writing through the same critical lensed they used in Eli Review.
Perhaps most importantly, Eli’s real-time analytic data showed McArdle where he could best direct his time to help students where they needed it most:
The analytics provided by Eli gave me the opportunity to show the class where we were lacking in certain areas and where we were excelling. This gave me a chance to make real time changes to my pedagogy and the class could see why I was making those changes. Essentially, as students used Eli, they helped the class progress and influenced how I taught and introduced material.
McArdle found that Eli plays a critical role not just in improving student writing, but about helping them grow as learners. “It is not just about reviewing and revising essays,” he says, “but about reviewing and revising the way we think.”