Feel good hooks

A range of interactives for my intro stats class were developed to engage and motivate students,  during the lockdown period. Activities developed included: the use of Google Sheets and Docs for students to answer video embedded quizzes, questions and games,  undertaken in one stream of this cohort (approximately 300 students). They were also used to elicit ideas from students to help keep everyone engaged. Using student responses to direct and adapt activities and learning opportunities became integral, with the absence of in person teaching/live lectures. 

I was also invited to speak at two Faculty of Science events (at the University of Auckland) to share the above: a post lockdown Faculty of Science Celebration of teaching (which was an in person event attended by academics from across the Faculty, to show and tell all the amazing teaching activities that had been developed over the year) and also a Pedagogy Pandemic & Education (PPE) event, created during the lockdown period to help academics at the university share their ideas and teaching methods adopted. The talk I presented for the PPE event is embedded below:

What did I do? 

I used Zoom and Google Sheets and Docs, in a variety of ways, for example: to elicit feedback from students, and engage them in class discussions. Engagement activities developed included: Name that tune (tunes were played on a keyboard and were embedded in a session recording of course content, where students were encouraged to guess the tunes), guess who the famous person is (impersonations of celebrities were presented to students for them to guess, embedded in session recordings) and the use of teddy bears that were given names (Fredericke and Jessabella) and personalities, that presented students with riddles and quizzes. Students were encouraged to provide their answer via Google Sheets. Several of these activities were actually suggested by the students, and demonstrated the value I placed in their suggestions, and it also showed that I was listening to their ideas and comments. Students were also presented with opportunities to upload pictures of their whanau and other family members (including pets) to share with the class, via Google Sheets. Students were also provided the opportunity to state any concepts or key ideas they didn’t understand and record them into a Google Sheet, whereby I made a recording to answer the student queries and questions, being made available for them to watch on Canvas.  


Student engagement was clearly apparent, with students providing responses via Google Sheets and Google Docs, and also through feedback in emails to myself. The Facebook group for my stream also noted increased engagement with members, as a result of the numerous online activities I provided for students. This was highlighted to me in a series of feedback emails from the class representatives. The activities developed and implemented created a safe and inclusive learning environment, which made a direct impact on their engagements and subsequent learning on the course.

I have received a significant number of emails from students highlighting how thankful and appreciative they were of the effort that was put into these activities (I have included several of these see below). One student also produced a Tik Tok, which includes several “highlights” from the session recordings and I’ve embedded below:

A selection of student feedback via email:

Hi Rhys, Thank you so much!
I was planning to email you at some point during this semester with some feedback on the lectures, but I thought I would take the time now since you have very kindly emailed me. I just wanted to say how much I have thoroughly enjoyed your lectures and being in your stream this semester, the effort and enthusiasm you consistently put into your content delivery is really inspiring. For me, personally, and I’m sure many other students will feel the same, I have found your lectures and the fun activities you incorporate into them so uplifting and motivating, especially during lockdown, they never fail to put a smile on my face! Being a first year student, you have made my first ever university lectures a really positive experience, and I appreciate the care and support you offer to us students in your course, it makes the transition into university a lot more comforting.
Thank you again.

Hi sir!
Wanted to make a TikTok compilation of my favourite moments from your lectures because my friends all LOVE how uplifting and entertaining you make everything! I couldn’t fit nearly everything in but I hope you enjoy and thank you so much for brightening up all of your students’ lockdownsI I definitely think your antics have been a huge positive impact on lecture engagement!!
Hope the Apple crumble turns out well hehe

Thank you so much, Rhys! I have really enjoyed all your lectures and appreciate all the effort you have put into the course so far. You have definitely had a massive impact on my results thus far 🙂
Kind Regards

Thanks Rhys!
Loving the lecturers, they are keeping me very entertained 😊😂 and you explain everything really well!

Hi Rhys!,
Hope this email finds you well. I want to say I find your recordings truly enjoyable and they always cheer me up at the start with your riddles, Fredrick, songs, etc. Thank you for being such an amazing lecturer!

I was recently watching your videos on the Mid-Sem test revision and saw it was your birthday so I’d just like to say:
HAPPY (BELATED) BIRTHDAY!!!!! Thanks for all the help you’ve given us this semester with this paper! You’re definitely one of my favourite lecturers; you’ve made me enjoy a Maths subject which I thought was impossible! I also showed my younger sister your videos with Fredrick and she really enjoyed them. Hope you had a wonderful birthday as well and enjoyed some time even tho we’re still in level 3 quarantine!

I was just getting a head start and watching week 6s lectures early so I could put off essays for my other classes and just wanted to say a belated happy birthday!! Your lectures have really brightened up my lockdown so thank you for all that you’ve done to make them engaging and uplifting.

Hi Rhys,
I hope you’ve had a productive first week of lockdown!
I’m currently a student in your STATS 108 class and just finished your mini-lecture: ‘The Winning Stream Name’.
I wanted to pass on to you how enjoyable I’ve found your classes this semester. I have found that I’ve been really engaged in the content due to the energy and friendly vibe you bring to each lecture; far more so than in any of my other core commerce papers in previous semesters.
I’m not sure the amount of positive feedback lecturers manage to receive from students when the cohorts are as large and diverse as is the case with this course, so I felt it was important that I passed this on.
Enjoy your weekend!