At a Glance


  • STEM
  • Physics

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP
  • University


  • Mechanics

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Group

Type of Tasks

  • Solving problems
  • Reviewing & assessing peers
  • Writing

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • Online collaborative platform

Class size

  • Small (20-49)
  • Medium (50-99)


  • Multiple class periods (2-3 classes)

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building


In this activity, students complete a reflective writing on torque, communicating and responding to each other both during the reading and after the writing is completed.

To begin, the instructor assigns a reading to be completed before class. Prior to the first class of the week, students complete the reading, commenting on it and asking for clarification on points of confusion, and responding to others. Perusall can be used to easily track and grade student comments and responses, though any online forum would be an adequate substitute. Students should write about 6 comments or responses, and are given a nominal grade based on the quality. This portion is completed as a class, with all students able to see each others comments and able to respond.

Once they have completed the reading assignment, students complete their reflective writing, responding to three prompts. The first should require an explanation of a physics-related concept (for example identifying torques in their day to day life), the second has them reflect about what they have learned (for example by describing what they found most interesting in the lecture), and the third has students describe what points they are still confused about. The reflective writings are uploaded to an online collaborative platform and are visible only within pre-assigned groups of 8-10 students. This submission should be made the day before lectures for the week begin.

Prior to the class, the instructor reads through a sample of the reflective writings to determine what points should be emphasized during class. The class typically begins with a brief mini-lecture, followed by solving problems in a worksheet (in groups of 4).

Before the end of the week, students must respond to at least two other reflective writings from their group of 8-10 in the online collaborative platform. These responses should be insightful and ask questions, clarify, or explain points.

Students can be graded both on the readings (receiving a grade if they make at least 6 comments or responses, which can be automatically graded if using Perusall) and on their reflective writings (graded out of 4: 2 marks for the reflective writing and 1 for each response).

Instructional Objectives

Students will familiarize themselves with the concept of torque.

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

Phoebe Jackson

Phoebe Jackson

John Abbott College, Montreal, QC


The primary benefit is that all students have a voice in this activity, even those that aren’t necessarily at the top of the class. Students remain engaged with each other, and if this activity is used consistently for each topic they learn to support each other, creating a good atmosphere in the class.

Having students write their questions and comments allows them to be more at ease, as an online forum can be less intimidating than the classroom. Working in their small groups of 8-10 throughout the year allows them to bond more closely.


Grading can be a challenge when using this method, as there are two separate portions on which the students are graded (the reading and the writing). Keeping the marking simple and not giving written feedback each time helps. Three written feedbacks per semester is plenty, with two early on and one later in the semester. Grading should be superficial. If you are using Perusall, the grading for the reading portion can be done automatically.


The questions that go over best are the ones that aren’t “test questions”. These should be written conceptual questions, and those that allow students to connect their out of class life with the physics can elicit particularly interesting responses.

Applied Strategies


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