Published: March 20, 2018

In 2015, ASSETT conducted a campus-wide Teaching with Technology survey of faculty from across campus.  A theme that emerged was they wanted strategies and tools for motivating students to prepare in advance. Our Tech of the Month, Perusall, was designed to do just that — it helps students master readings faster and gain a better understanding of the material through collaborative reading.  

Developed by renowned physicist Eric Mazur, Perusall is an online annotation tool that promotes active, collaborative reading.  Through this tool, faculty assign readings, either through online textbooks, articles, or PDFs. Students can highlight, create private or public comments, and answer questions around the assigned reading. As noted in Perusall’s one-page rubric, students are encouraged to annotate thoughtfully by creating comments that deeply engage points in the reading, stimulating discussions, offering informative questions or comments, and helping others by addressing their questions or confusions.  

Perusall also has some nice course management features. For large enrollment courses, students are automatically placed into smaller groups for each document. Students can only see and can respond to comments and questions from other group members.  Faculty can also provide automated personalized guidance for students—especially for those who may be falling behind and not engaging with the readings and peers.  Perusall creates a Student Confusion Report that summarizes areas of text that students found confusing. And Perusall can also be integrated into Canvas, CU’s new learning management system. If you’re interested in using this tool in your course(s) and would like assistance, one of our Student Fellows will be happy to provide you with support.