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Sara F. Burdorff

PhD, UCLA

Perusall has been an absolute game-changer for me. I tried it out of desperation during our emergency online transition, but I have been completely won over. I doubt I'll ever teach a class again without including Perusall in the Design.
Sara F. Burdorff, PhD, Undergraduate Education Initiatives, UCLA

Why did you choose to use Perusall?

I learned about Perusall after seeing it mentioned as an "active reading tool" in an article on how to convert courses to online (part of COVID-19). II went to Perusall's website and looked around. I found the interface extremely user-friendly, and the formatting great. In particular, the fact that it was both compatible with Moodle and specified FERPA compliant sold me on giving it a try.

What are your favorite features of Perusall?

It's difficult to name just a few--but I love (a) how easy it is to upload and sort assignments; (b) being able to sort responses by student; and (c) the fact that students were able to @ each other and even upload GIFs into their comments (which they did!). It was also very helpful to be able to see how much time students spent on each reading, to make sure assignments were within reasonable parameters for everyone.

What are you seeing as a result of using Perusall?

I found using Perusall boosted my own confidence in levels of student engagement with each week's reading; it also allowed me to tailor my lectures to address specific aspects they emphasized in their comments/conversations, and address common questions, rather than having to guess what they might have been thinking about the texts. Students were also more likely to participate in discussion because they had had time (and a place) to pre-formulate thoughts about specific details of the text, and vet those impressions/receive peer feedback on them before class even began.

Has it changed how you teach your course?

Perusall will absolutely change the way I teach my courses in the future. It's a reliable, user-friendly way simultaneously to monitor and to facilitate student engagement with course readings. I will almost certainly replace in-class reading quizzes (which are impersonal, and take too much class time) with more dynamic, generative, and efficient Perusall reading assignments, in all courses going forward. The substitution absolutely changes the dynamic from monitoring to encouraging student engagement with the material, which in turn improves morale and performance, and enhances the collaborative atmosphere in the classroom.

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