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Perusall: For Students

Below are resources for your students and answers to some of the Perusall questions they are most likely to ask. We also highly recommend that you direct them to Perusall's Student Support Portal.  

Feel free to copy and paste any of this content into your course information!

Perusall Demo for Students

How Perusall Works

Allison S. Walker provides the following instructions for students regarding how Perusall works in her article "Perusall: Harnessing AI Robo-Tools and Writing Analytics to Improve Student Learning and Increase Instructor Efficiency." You may wish to use or adapt them for your class.

How Perusall Works

“Perusall helps you master readings faster, understand the material better, and get more out of your classes. To achieve this goal, you will be collaboratively annotating texts with others in your class. The help you’ll get and provide your classmates (even if you don’t know anyone personally) will get you past confusions quickly and will make the process more fun. While you read, you’ll receive rapid answers to your questions, help others resolve their questions (which also helps you learn), and advise the instructor how to make class time most productive. You can start a new annotation thread in Perusall by highlighting text, asking a question, or posting a comment; you can also add a reply or comment to an existing thread. Each thread is like a chat with one or more members of your class, and it happens in real time. Your goals in annotating each reading assignment are to stimulate discussion by posting good questions or comments and to help others by answering their questions.

Research shows that by annotating thoughtfully, you’ll learn more and get better grades, so here’s what “annotating thoughtfully” means: Effective annotations deeply engage points in the readings, stimulate discussion, offer informative questions or comments, and help others by addressing their questions or confusions. To help you connect with classmates, you can “mention” a classmate in a comment or question to have them notified by email (they’ll also see a notification immediately if online), and you’ll also be notified when your classmates respond to your questions.

For each assignment, Perusall will evaluate the annotations you submit on time. Based on the overall body of your annotations, you will receive a score for each assignment as follows:

  • 3 demonstrates exceptionally thoughtful and thorough reading of the entire assignment
  • 2 demonstrates thoughtful and thorough reading of the entire assignment
  • 1 demonstrates superficial reading of the entire assignment OR thoughtful reading of only part of the assignment
  • 0 demonstrates superficial reading of only part of the assignment

When Perusall looks at your annotations, they want them to reflect the effort you put in your study of the text. It is unlikely that that effort will be reflected by just a few thoughtful annotations per assignment. On the other extreme, 30 per assignment is probably too many, unless a number of them are superficial or short comments or questions (which is fine, because it is OK to engage in chat with your peers). Somewhere in between these two extremes is about right, and thoughtful questions or comments that stimulate discussion or thoughtful and helpful answers to other students’ questions will earn you a higher score for the assignment. Note, also, that to lay the foundation for understanding other class activities and assignments, you must familiarize yourself with each reading in its entirety. Failing to annotate the entire reading will result in a lower score." (237-238)

Walker, Allison S. "Perusall: Harnessing AI Robo-Tools and Writing Analytics to Improve Student Learning and Increase Instructor Efficiency." Journal of Writing Analytics, vol. 3, 2019, 237-238. doi:10.37514/JWA-J.2019.3.1.11.

Student LMS Account Setup

At 0:26 this video mentions that students may access a textbook in Perusall via purchasing it directly from Perusall or entering an access code purchased from the college bookstore. As stated at the top of the "Getting Started" tab, GHC has disabled the option to use purchased textbooks in Perusall. However, GHC faculty may still use open-source textbooks in Perusall. 

Start Conversations With Classmates

  • When you open a document, you'll see highlights superimposed on the document that represent comments that you and other students have entered.
  • Yellow highlights indicate comments or questions by you or other students; blue highlights indicate comments from your instructor.
  • To start a conversation, highlight some text; once you finish highlighting, you will see a panel open on the right where you can type your comment. Press Enter or Return to submit the comment; your classmates will see it appear in real time. (If you are having trouble highlighting text, see "Why can't I highlight part of the text?".)
  • When someone responds to your question or comment, you will receive a notification by email and you can post a reply by either signing on or merely replying to the email.
  • To add to a conversation started by one of your classmates, simply click on the highlight in the text to open up the conversation panel, type your comment, and then press Enter.
  • You can also highlight part of a figure rather than text by using the toolbar buttons at the top. When you have elected to highlight a figure, click and drag to draw a box around the area of interest, or simply click to drop a map pin.
  • While reading the document, change which comments you see by clicking the filter dropdown at the top of the page (which says All comments by default).

Keep Track of Your Scores

  • View your scores by clicking the [My scores] button on your course home page.
  • The scoring is based on the quality and timeliness of your comments, questions, and responses, and may include other measurements of engagement as determined by your instructor. See Perusall's scoring examples for explanations of how quality is measured. 
  • In order to see some details of a particular score, click [My scores], then click on that particular assignment's score in the score column.
  • If you don't see a score for an assignment, it's because your instructor hasn't released the scores for that assignment yet.
  • You may continue to ask questions, answer questions, and make comments outside of the context of a particular reading assignment. However, note that if you edit a comment that was counted towards an assignment whose deadline has passed, that comment may no longer count towards your score for that assignment.

Assignment Access via Email Notifications

When your instructor gives you a Perusall assignment, you must access the assignment through D2L for grades to synch correctly. You may get email notifications from Perusall about assignments that are due. The links in these emails will not take you to your class or assignment. You must access your assignment via D2L. 

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