Skip to content

Instructor stories

Richard J. Gray II, Ashland University

Why did you choose to use Perusall?

I chose Perusall for a variety of reasons, including its versatility and its flexibility. I like the fact that it can incorporate e-books, but that it can also load in electronic articles or even my own PDFs, which can then be marked up in a myriad ways.

What are your favorite features of Perusall?

The insertion of images, hyperlinks, and even the tagging of people make Perusall multipurpose. Perusall’s features give the peer-to-peer tool a kind of social media feel. But, it also has backend data analytics that are useful to the professor. You can see how long students actually spend within a given text as well as how much time they spend engaged in “deep reading.” The system also generates Confusion Reports that faculty can use to pinpoint problem areas of study.

What are you seeing as a result of using Perusall?

Anecdotally, I’ve always known that certain of my students didn’t like to read or that they didn’t actually complete all of the assigned readings. But with Perusall, we can work to shift the paradigm by crowdsourcing reading in an effort to find out why these things might be true. Furthermore, there isn’t a punitive element associated with Perusall because I use it primarily outside of class, so you’re not singling out students for not having done the reading. Additionally, in my use of Perusall, I heavily underscore the collaborative element of the peer-to-peer tool as well as the fact that students will get the most out of it if they don’t procrastinate in their reading.

How has using Perusall changed your course?

The ability to frontload comments and questions, images, and hyperlinks into the system has facilitated my teaching of this particular course. Moreover, the level of discussion among students is unlike anything that I have ever seen within the LMS of any course that I have previously taught.

Michael Ash, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Why did you choose to use Perusall?

I've been discouraged by the difficulty of getting students to complete and engage with readings. Many students have come to expect to lecture to deliver the entire content of the course. Critical engagement with carefully chosen and well-written texts is a critical component of higher education. Perusall facilitates that engagement.

What are your favorite features of Perusall?

Perusall facilitates comment, discussion, and debate directly associated with the text under discussion (highlights in the text linked directly to conversation in the margin).

What are you seeing as a result of using Perusall?

Getting students to engage texts has been a great challenge at the undergraduate and graduate level. A tendency to rely too much on lecture and many digital distractions have made it hard to assume that students will read assigned texts in advance. Perusall is a valuable intervention. Students complete readings and reflect on them. Class lecture and discussion can now take off with the presumption that most students have completed the reading already and are not expecting the class to begin (and often end) with a summary of the readings.

How has using Perusall changed your course?

I think of a class as an interaction among students, the instructor, and the texts (think three points of a triangle). Many classes tend to become instructor-focused, which lets students off the hook while giving the instructor a (possibly false) sense of efficacy. Perusall has helped me shift the focus towards the student-text axis, which makes for a great education and lets me intervene with guidance and questions rather than become the focus with lecture.

Rachel Bancroft, Cape Cod Community College

Why did you choose to use Perusall?

I mostly use online OER sources for my course. Perusall is a way to replace my previous method for teaching close reading skills- highlighting and annotating.

What are your favorite features of Perusall?

The fact that it provides a guided reading experience for my students and also enables authentic group discussion in an online environment.

What are you seeing as a result of using Perusall?

More students are completing the reading, understanding the reading, and applying the terms in class to the reading.

How has using Perusall changed your course?

Teaching Introduction to Literature, one of the student learning outcomes is about close reading. Perusall allows me to authentically assess the reading process, rather than giving a quiz on each reading and allows me to ask pointed questions and then guide my students answers in the discussion forums. I can also set Perusall to form small groups of students and provide choices for them to read from within those groups. This is great for an online environment.

Sara F. Burdorff, PhD, 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.

Brent Scholar, Ed.D.

Why did you choose to use Perusall?

I chose Perusall because it creates a greater opportunity for learners to organically interact with each other over a traditional discussion board.

What are your favorite features of Perusall?

My favorite features of Perusall are the ability to review each students’ posts alone and being able to add guiding questions that copy from use to use.

What are you seeing as a result of using Perusall?

Learners are engaged with each other more, and I can be more engaged with them too, as my time is not spent needing to police discussion posts. I have more time to interact with students either in Perusall or somewhere else.

How has using Perusall changed your course?

The issue was stale discussion boards and quizzes. By using Perusall, I now I rid myself of both of them to get more interaction and quicker evaluation.

How are you using Perusall? Share your story with us!