Sunday, September 04, 2016

Perusall Trial Update

Back in June I wrote a Blog of Phyz post about the social media textbook reading website Perusall. I set up a Perusall class for teachers to try out. I posted a reading assignment, a paper by Joe Redish called Changing Student Ways of Knowing. I invited teachers to create a student account and participate by reading and commenting on this article. I promised to release grades on September 1st. Thirty-two teachers registered for my Perusall class and took a look at what Perusall can do. Seven teachers left a total of 18 comments. The artificial intelligent agent that scores comments on Perusall gave twelve the maximum score of 2, six received a score of 1. There were no zeros! These were pretty good scores compared to what my students averaged.
I was a little disappointed by the amount of participation in the teacher trial of Perusall. Because the default for automatic grading is 15 students, I had to ask their tech support to grade the assignment. The discussion would have been more interesting if we had a group of 20 commenting like I used with my students. Perhaps I didn't pick an interesting enough article. I still believe in the potential of this tool that encourages students to read textbooks by making it more relevant and useful for them. I am about to start using Perusall in this year's classes. I will use it for the full year and collect data about students use and perceptions. Perusall is free if you upload your own readings, I use the OpenStax physics textbook. Look for another update about Perusall next summer and maybe another teacher trial.

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