Instructional Design and eTeaching Services - Boston College

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During the fall of 2006, the Law School changed its first year curriculum, moving three large section courses (torts, contracts and property) from a two-quarter format into a one-semester schedule. Professor Judy McMorrow, who regularly teaches the Torts course, approached IDeS to help her devise a system of meaningful feedback that would help students prepare for final exam questions within the constraints of the shortened course.

Using Blackboard Vista, Judy developed a staggered system of feedback that balanced the workload among small peer groups, a teaching assistant, and Judy herself. In this system, students posted answers to periodic writing assignments in their individual Vista discussion sections while the teaching assistant monitored the responses and intervened when appropriate. Each group then had the option of crafting a single answer to submit for Judy’s review, and she provided detailed responses to this more manageable group of essays. Judy also provided additional model questions and commentary that students could take access should want further help. By providing this range of online opportunities for feedback, Judy intended to maximize the face-to-face time she spent with students in her office and enhance the attention she could give to her written responses.

By helping distribute the options for meaningful feedback more widely, this use of Blackboard Vista offered a potential model for other Law School courses who face similar pedagogical challenges as they adjust to a new curriculum.

Project Team

Faculty Development Team

  • Professor Judith McMorrow Law School
  • Irene Good Educational Technology Specialist/Legal Information Librarian Law Library

Project Manager

  • Tim Lindgren Instructional Designer IDeS

Graphic Design  

  • Bill Porter Instructional Designer IDeS