Educational Development Digest: February 2022

Jump to: Pedagogy in Practice | Academic Technology Tips | Did You Know?

Pedagogy in Practice

Before you hand back your next assignment, exam, or paper, consider putting a wrapper on it – a cognitive wrapper!

Pedagogy in Practice
By Catherine Ford

Cognitive wrappers, sometimes referred to as exam wrappers, are a strategy to promote student reflection on their learning often on a large assignment or exam; although, they can be used even for a class discussion. According to Jose Bowen, author of Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Guide to Designing Better Classes (2017), the cognitive wrapper includes four criteria: Rationale, Reflection, Comparison, and Adjustment. Bowen (2017) added the Rationale criteria to Lovett’s (2013) original triad of reflection, comparison, and adjustment influenced by Mary-Ann Winkelmes (2013) Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT).

These criterion prompt student metacognition by asking students to reflect on their individual preparation, consider the feedback or score while taking notice of the types of mistakes, and make plans to adjust a study habit or preparation technique. Exam wrappers are a low stakes, simple to implement strategy that also supports a growth mindset.

woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

Bowen on his Cognitive Wrappers Resource Page recommends these as guiding questions:

  1. Rationale: This is only to help you improve.
  2. Reflection: How did you prepare for this exam?
  3. Comparison: What kinds of mistakes did you make?
  4. Adjustment: How will you prepare differently next time?

A quick online search will result in example questions and question types (open ended, check list, etc.) such as found on Bowen’s resource page.

The first time I heard about exam wrappers I was at a conference, and presenters shared two physical examples. The first example was a piece of 8.5 x 17 piece of paper, cut in half and wrapped around an exam about to be returned. It had 3-5 preprinted questions that students filled out about the exam that was just returned. The exam was literally wrapped by these reflection questions. Students then took 5-10 minutes in class to complete this activity. The second example was similar except the wrapper was more like a cover page stapled to the front with identical questions. Cognitive wrappers don’t have to be physical wrappers. They can be built into the LMS, sent online survey, or in reply to an email. 

Studies have found that cognitive wrappers work best when students have numerous exposures not only in one course but across multiple courses. Recommendations include applying the strategy across a department or a first year courses (Hodges, Beall, Anderson, Carpenter, Cui, Feeser, et al., 2020; Soicher & Gurung, 2017). Researchers have also suggested that cognitive wrappers may have greater gains when in conjunction with explicit teaching students about the metacognitive strategies and their impacts (Chew, Chen, Rieken, Turping, & Sheppard, 2016; Schendel, 2020; Soicher & Gurung, 2017).

What might it look like to implement cognitive wrappers in your course? Can you engage others you work with to introduce cognitive wrappers? If you give this a try, please let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear from you.

  • Bowen, J. A., & Watson, C. E. (2017). Teaching naked techniques: A practical guide to designing better classes. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Chew, K. J., Sheppard, S., Chen, H. L., Rieken, B., & Turpin, A. (2016, June). Improving students’ learning in statics skills: Using homework and exam wrappers to strengthen self-regulated learning. In 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.
  • Hodges, L. C., Beall, L. C., Anderson, E. C., Carpenter, T. S., Cui, L., Feeser, E., … & Wagner, C. (2020). Effect of Exam Wrappers on Student Achievement in Multiple, Large STEM Courses Breadcrumb. Journal of College Science Teaching, 50(1).
  • Lovett, M. C. (2013). Make exams worth more than the grade. Using reflection and metacognition to improve student learning: Across the disciplines, across the academy, 18-52.
  • Schendel, S. (2020). What You Don’t Know (Can Hurt You): Using Exam Wrappers to Foster Self-Assessment Skills in Law Students. Pace Law Review, 40, 154.
  • Soicher, R. N., & Gurung, R. A. (2017). Do exam wrappers increase metacognition and performance? A single course intervention. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 16(1), 64-73.
  • Winkelmes, M. (2013), “Transparency in teaching: Faculty share data and improve students’ learning” Liberal Education 99/2 (Spring 2013), 48-55.

Academic Technology Tips

Offering a Warm Welcome with Zoom’s Video Waiting Room 

Academic Technology Tips
By Brock Behling

The process of virtually joining a class online can add additional stress for some individuals. Will my computer work as expected? Is this the right link? or the dreaded, Will I be the ONLY ONE there?” 

The typical social cues seen on campus can be lost in the new virtual environment. More individualized experiences can require changed behaviors for some students and potentially new courage, as they must make more independent decisions while potentially feeling alone in the shared group experience. The ability to just follow the flow, or carefully evaluate the situation before fully committing to entering a room can be lost in a more isolated virtual environment and that is why it is important to put in extra effort to offer clarity around expectations and ensure that our students feel supported as they navigate the required path to participation.  

Screenshot of customization screen for Zoom waiting rooms.

Zoom has added the ability to customize the waiting room, and this can be leveraged to ease anxiety, set expectations, improve security and safety, gamify content and welcome students with personalized messaging. 

When waiting rooms are enabled they can be customized to include a descriptive title that can help clarify the intent of the meeting and quickly set the tone. Placing everyone in a waiting room can add a level of security as the host prepares or tests materials for the live session. Incorporating a short video can personalize the experience or be used to provide support videos to help individuals get started with typical tools being used.  

Changing the video each session can help when incorporating gamification principles into your course by adding anticipation for the updated content and encouraging individuals to join early. Zoom now has advanced polling features which can be used to incorporate quick low or no-stake quizzes that support image uploads, matching, ranking, short answer or standard multiple-choice questions. By sharing the results, individuals can see how their answers compare to their peer responses. 

The waiting room can also be used as a pre-built breakout room that has specific content loaded. While the waiting room does intentionally restricts student-to-student interaction, it can provide individual student-to-content control as well as student-to-instructor connectivity without impacting the other student’s personalized learning experiences.  

If you were hesitant to try the video waiting room before, you may want to explore the new customization options available with the latest Zoom releases.

Did You Know?

The 6th annual Equity Book Group begins this month!

Did You Know?
By Megan Babel

2022 marks the 6th year Minnesota State Educational Innovations has hosted the Equity Book Group. It’s a great opportunity for Minnesota State faculty and staff to read, discuss, interact, share, and learn with a book on a topic relevant to our work. Read along with colleagues and create an action plan to help develop more equitable learning opportunities for students on our campuses and to eliminate the equity gap by 2030.

The 2022 book is The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. This year the first 150 registrants can receive a digital copy of the book at no cost!

We also encourage campuses to:

  • have meetings on your campus to complement our work together
  • use a buddy system to move through any of the book group activities with a colleague

The two main parts of joining the Equity Book Group are:

  1. Three 60-minute virtual Zoom meetings to discuss how the experiences and perspectives in the book relate to our students.
  2. A D2L Brightspace course to explore issues related to the book. The course will use short, asynchronous, interactive activities to help us explore how we can better serve our students, connect across the system, and share resources.

Reusable Course Shells

D2L Brightspace course shells are available from previous Equity Book Groups. We invite faculty to utilize these resources in faculty development teams on your campus. Learn more on the Reusable Resources for Campus Use page in the NED Resource Site.

Past books in the Equity Book Group have been:

  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis​ by J.D. Vance
  • Enrique’s Journey: The story of a boy’s dangerous odyssey to reunite with his mother by Sonia Nazario
  • The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors Misunderstand Each Other by Rebecca Cox
  • The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessell van der Kolk
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

From the ASA Technology Council

Watch the following short video overview of the last ASA Technology Council held on December 8, 2021.

ASA Technology Council Meeting Updates
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