References: The People Behind the Pedagogy

This podcast explores how to make language your superpower. Hosted by Jodie Martin, we bring you the latest and greatest news from UBC Vantage College where we have English language experts working side by side with discipline-specific faculty to help our students power up their communication and academic literacy skills so that they can thrive in a rigorous academic setting.

Episode 5 - Making the mechanics of paraphrasing more explicit through grammatical metaphor — starring AEP Lecturer Jennifer Walsh Marr

Through her years working with English additional language learners from all over the world, Jennifer Walsh Marr has seen both students and instructors struggle with paraphrasing; it’s difficult to do and difficult to teach, and yet the stakes can be so high. In today’s episode, we do a deep dive into paraphrasing, what it means, how it’s misunderstood, and its implications in the landscape of higher education.  We also discuss what grammatical metaphor is and how it can help students in developing their academic English abilities.

To read the publication discussed in this episode, visit

Episode 4 (Season 2) - Why can't I just copy/paste? Alys Avalos-Rivera & Suzie Lavallee on academic integrity

Academic integrity is of vital importance in academia, and unfortunately, this is not something that comes naturally to students, regardless of their background. As Suzie Lavallee, Vantage College’s Academic Director, put it: “Academic integrity isn’t added onto the curriculum—it is the curriculum.”

In this episode of References, we sit down with Dr. Alys Avalos-Rivera, an AEP Lecturer with Vantage Engineering, and Dr. Suzie Lavallee, to discuss the importance of academic integrity in the student’s scholarly journey and the many pitfalls that they may be unaware of when learning to cite their sources. It’s not just “tipping your hat” at the person who said something first, but rather, an opportunity for you to join in on the dialogue of a particular subject matter.

Listen to our first episode in season 2, learn about the importance of academic integrity and misconduct and how they are not the same.

Episode 3 - Transitioning to online learning in the middle of a pandemic (Part 2 of 2)

“Teaching to an extent, is a performance across disciplines, whether it’s dance, theatre, or any other course.” – Gabriel Potvin 

We are back with our 2nd and final episode for our 2-part series about the sudden transition to emergency online teaching that took place in late March 2020. In this episode, we sit down with Katja Thieme, Assistant Professor of Teaching in Arts Studies in Research & Writing, and Gabriel Potvin, Associate Professor of Teaching in Chemical & Biological Engineering. As Vantage faculty, they recounted their experience in providing emergency course instruction in late March 2020.  

Our guests share their stories about the adjustments they had to make to help students get the most out of their courses, and the opportunities that have arisen to further innovate their pedagogy. Online course delivery has its own strengths in how students are able to engage with the course material, and on top of that, our instructors are actively thinking about the different ways to keep the benefits of live classroom interaction in the upcoming term, no matter where their students are in the world. 

Katja talks about assignments that had students cover topics in their local communities, both as a way for them to engage with the course material from a personal perspective but also as an opportunity for their classroom peers to learn more about the diversity of their classmates. Gabriel provides an example of how his office hours have become more than just covering course materials, and are now a channel for students to stay in contact with him and remain motivated throughout the term. In Gabriel’s words, his office hours took on the flavour of “pep talks” to maintain strong connections with his students. 

This upcoming term is going to be a new experience for many students. Tune in to today’s episode to learn about what some instructors are doing to deliver the most value in a distance education model, and the advice that they have for incoming students on how they can succeed within it.  

Episode 2 - Transitioning to online learning in the middle of a pandemic (Part 1 of 2)

Good teaching is good teaching, whether it's face to face or online.

In this first of a 2-part episode series, Jodie Martin speaks with Brian Wilson about the sudden transition to emergency online teaching that took place in late March 2020 here at UBC. Brian is the Curriculum Manager and Faculty Liaison at Vantage College, and prior to this role, he worked as an instructional designer and project manager with the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. From his experience, Brian has a wealth of knowledge for delivering courses online effectively and in an engaging way.

Like the rest of UBC, Vantage College pivoted to emergency online teaching over the course of a single weekend, when there were only 3.5 weeks remaining in the second term. During this uncertain time, Brian was an important contributor to moving Vantage online in a relatively smooth and successful manner. However, the transition was not without its challenges, and he shares insight into how it all transpired, and the immense people power that was required to make it all come together so quickly.

We also discuss the lessons learned, and what this could mean for the future of online course delivery. As people begin exploring different ways of doing assessments, tasks and activities, both instructors and students may gain a greater appreciation of what else is possible.

Episode 1 - Revising Multiple Choice Questions to Enhance Multilingual Learner Comprehension

Do you use multiple choice questions for tests, mid-terms and exams? The advantage of technology today means that we can do all sorts of marvelous things, like create question banks, gather analytics on responses, and perhaps most importantly, mark automatically. But how many times have you had a question which most students got wrong, even though you know they knew the content? Often, we see that as teachers, how we phrase questions isn’t as obvious to our students as it is to us. In our first episode, we hear from a team of professors and instructors in the Vantage One Arts program who explored the idea of what makes a good multiple choice question and discovered how to fix it. We interview Dr. Mark Lam (Lecturer in the Department of Psychology) and Jennifer Lightfoot (Academic English Program Lecturer in Vantage One Arts) about their interdisciplinary approach to developing multiple choice questions that enhanced the learner comprehension. Other contributors to this project that were not interviewed include, Dr. Simon Lolliot, Dr. Katherine Lyon, Nathan Roberson, and Daniel Riccardi.

References for this episode:
Riccardi, D., Lightfoot, J., Lam, M., Lyon, K., Roberson, N. D., & Lolliot, S. (2020). Investigating the effects of reducing linguistic complexity on EAL student comprehension in first-year undergraduate assessments. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 43.

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