Engage, IU’s eText reader, has several features (e.g., highlighting and annotating) that can enhance reading and discussion activities. By combining Engage and Canvas tools, for example, instructors can annotate significant passages of the text or model analytical techniques then have students practice those skills in the text in order to prepared them for class discussion or a follow-up assignment. Research conducted here at Indiana University (Abaci, Quick, & Morrone, 2017) indicates that student engagement with an eText correlates with instructor involvement with the eText. In short, if you're actively incorporating the eText into your instruction, your students will actively engage with the eText.
Active learning with eTexts
See the list below for specific reading activities using Engage. For more information and additional resources to implement these activities in your course(s), see IU’s Introduction to Using eTexts in Canvas.
Recalling vocabulary and identify key points
Decades of research strongly indicate that practice testing improves learning. In its simplest form, practice testing involves students recalling information based on a prompt; however, this can take any number of forms, from quizzes to flash cards to games.
- Markup your IU eText with Notes and ask students to do the same.
- Create a Canvas Quiz covering the target vocabulary and/or key points that align with your learning outcomes. Under "Settings" choose the following features:
- Enable Shuffle answers.
- Enable Allow multiple attempts and choose Highest score to keep.
- Disable Let Students See Their Quiz Responses.
- Set the due date before class.
- Form groups of 3-5 students.
- Ask students to access their Canvas Quiz.
- Have groups work through questions together but submit their final answers individually.
- Discuss the questions and answers as a class, highlighting common misconceptions and fine-turning the remainder of your class session.
Summarizing or explaining key concepts
This activity provides guidance for students to thoughtfully read and prepare their responses to a text before discussing it in class. This approach also supports those students who might not otherwise speak up in class because it gives them time to synthesize their ideas in writing, before sharing them out-loud.
- Ask students to make notes in the eText and ensure they are sharing them with the instructor.
- Create a Canvas Assignment and have students respond to the following:
- HOW did this piece affect you?
- WHY did the piece affect you this way?
- What is the most important [word, words, idea, paragraph] in this piece? Why do you think so?
- Grade the assignment before class.
- Scan students' Notes in the eText to identify trends to discuss after the activity.
- Form groups of 3-5 students.
- Ask students to access their Canvas Assignment.
- Have groups discuss their Notes then report out to the class.
- Provide generalized feedback to the class on their Notes, especially highlighting aspects of an effective Note.
Applying what they read to a case or situation
Asking meaningful questions is a key skill in the practice of academic inquiry. This activity has students practice this skill within the etext in order to improve critical thinking about what they read.
- Present students with a case study or situation that somewhat challenges or is more complex than the reading they will do as homework.
- In small groups or as a class, ask students to identify key information that they would need in order to address the issues in the case study.
- Have students read the eText and, using the Questions tool in Engage, ask three or more meaningful questions about the conflict between the text and the case study.
- Consider grading this for completion or the quality of the questions.
- Choose the most significant questions, and use these as prompts for small group and/or class discussions about the text and the case.
- After class, make sure you answer the remaining student questions in Engage, so students will recognize the Questions tool as a means to learn from you outside of the classroom.
Analyzing a text using a specific critical lens or method
By asking students to mark up and annotate an eText, you can get a sense of how they are connecting the material to other course concepts. Although by itself highlighting and rereading text has not shown to improve learning, you can use this functionality in Engage to help students flag text to use in class/online discussions or assignments that are associated with improved learning.
- Create a Canvas Assignment asking students to use Engage to flag sections of the text with color and add a Note of explanation (e.g., for analyzing persuasive writing: blue = "pathos," red = "logos," etc; or for a scientific text: blue = "mitosis," red = "meiosis.")
- Review and comment on students' Notes in the Canvas assignment. Consider grading student notes on completion and modeling the most effective annotation strategies for your field.
- Have students access their eText markup in class and discuss what they identified in small or large groups.
- Create a Canvas Assignment asking students to synthesize their ideas, your comments, and the group discussions into a cohesive paper.