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Two hands type at a computer, which reads MEME: Motivating Engagement using Meme Examples. Next to the hands is a clipboard with a print-out of a cat-based meme on it.

MEME: Motivating Engagement using Meme Examples

This piece illustrates how a low-stakes meme assignment can increase student engagement and comprehension of course material.

Introduction

Understanding the key features of the learners’ generation allows educators to define a strategy to approach them, as well as to understand and implement tools that could benefit the teaching-learning process
—Mendez-Reguera and Cabrera (2020)

Research in education has long shown the benefits of implementing frequent, low-stakes assignments (Warnock 2013). In an in-person classroom, quizzes, group discussions, short reflections, and more can be used to supplement or even replace larger, high-stakes assignments. As instructors and students move toward fully online and hybrid teaching environments, largely due to limitations imposed by COVID 19 restrictions, low-stakes assignments are even more important.

While low-stakes assignments can help students maintain a sense of consistency and help them transition to and navigate this new online or hybrid learning environment, they can also feel monotonous, repetitive, and time-consuming. In the search to overcome issues of low student motivation (Finn 2015, Kornhauser et al. 2014), instructors are looking to enhance their courses with engaging, fun, and relevant alternatives. Enter: the meme assignment (Wells 2018, Paul 2020, Mendez-Reguera and Cabrera 2020).

Description of the Assignment and Methodology

As younger generations enter the classroom, educators can develop (or adapt) assignments that engage students’ technological skill sets (Scardina 2017, Mendez-Reguera and Cabrera 2020). One example of this is the use of a meme assignment (Wells 2018, Paul 2020, Mendez-Reguera and Cabrera 2020).

The assignments presented in this article bring together the perspectives of four animal behavior instructors, each of whom designed and implemented a meme assignment within their virtual classrooms in 2020. The instructors used Twitter as a means to engage with one another and obtain tips and suggestions for their respective meme assignment instructions. While each course varied in terms of course content, the meme assignment satisfied specific learning objectives. These included: 1) understanding and synthesizing complex content, 2) identifying and distilling content into a key point, and 3) translating and communicating this content in an engaging way. Tying together these objectives into a relatively simple and quick meme assessment not only facilitated student learning but also aided instructor evaluation of material comprehension, while adding novelty and fun into the (virtual) classroom.

Below we present information regarding the type of class, the assignment instructions, the method of grading, and tools used to deliver the meme assignments. Specifically, we hope to provide clarification as to how meme assignments can be employed as well as highlight potential variations in using this assessment. We conclude by presenting our collective tips for refining the assignment as well as example student memes and feedback received.

Course and Assignment Examples

Evolution and Behavior (Dr. Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, CUNY Hunter College)

Course description

In this course, students will learn about the study of behavior from an evolutionary perspective. We will look at the mechanisms underlying behavior and how behavior develops in an animal’s lifetime, as well as the fitness benefits of behavior and how behavior evolves across species. We will look at a variety of behavior topics, from reproductive and mating behavior to cognition and communication. Animal behavior is a fascinating field that draws from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience and anthropology, and students will learn about how these and other fields have impacted our understanding of behavior. In addition to lectures, we may also have in-class discussions about a variety of topics.

Student cohort: Elective, 100 level course in psychology

Class size: 55 students

Assignment description

Asynchronous Participation: Sexual Selection Memes
This week we are creating memes! Yes, you read that right. For this week, I would like you to:

  • Make an internet meme related to the content this week, specifically focusing on sexual selection, using a meme generator.
  • This meme must demonstrate your ability to take an idea or concept and apply classroom appropriate text and images to the subject matter. It’s ok if your meme is not absolutely hilarious, but it should make sense and accurately reflect the material.

Grading: Assignment was worth 5 points out of a total of 65 points and part of their “asynchronous participation” which constituted 15% of the overall course grade. Submissions were largely graded on completion resulting in either a score of 5 or 0. Students were not required to submit anything other than a meme. In the future, will institute a change to include a 1–3 sentence description explaining their meme. In some cases it was difficult to ascertain whether the students attained full comprehension of the material. In these instances, feedback was given but resubmission or a follow-up student response was not collected.

Introduction to Applied Animal Behavior (Dr. Beth Ventura, University of Minnesota)

Course description

How do animals behave when they’re in captivity, and why does it matter? Through this course, we will explore how animals’ behavior is modified by their captive environments and by us (the humans). Specifically, you will: gain knowledge of how different factors (e.g. genetics, physiology, learning, environment) influence the development and expression of animal behavior; explore how animals perceive and sense their world, how their cognitive capacities affect how they learn, and how we as humans can work with these capacities; identify underlying causation of normal and abnormal behavior in animals; apply knowledge of animal behavior to safe, low-stress handling and training of animals; troubleshoot common challenges in managing animals in a domestic/captive context; develop awareness of recent developments in applied animal behavior research; grow your appreciation for the incredible complexity and abilities of animals.

Student cohort: Elective, second year course in Animal Science, open to all majors and levels

Class size: 56 students

Assignment description

Behavior Bite: Make a Meme
Make an internet meme on any topic covered this week (i.e., related to zoo animal behavior, environmental enrichment, or stress in captive wildlife).
The meme must demonstrate your ability to take an interesting or important concept related to this week’s subject and communicate that concept in an informative way. The point is to match text and image in an informative, attention-grabbing way. The meme does not have to be hilarious or particularly clever, so don’t stress about that. Though if you can make it funny, please do! You should know by now that the bar for what I consider to be funny is very low.
You can make your meme using any program you choose.
Reply to this discussion forum with a title for your meme and embed (don’t just link—linking will result in a minor points deduction because the point is also to allow your peers to easily see your creation) the meme into your response.

Grading:
Worth 10 pts out of 285 pts total, assigned as one of 11 weekly 10–pt “Behavior Bite” assignments. Students were instructed that, “Grading standards for this behavior bite are fairly relaxed [compared to other weeks]. As long as your meme communicates specific information about the requested topics, the image is relevant to the text, it resembles what a meme is supposed to be, and you’ve made the meme yourself, you will earn full credit.”

Companion Animal Behavior (Dr. Emily Blackwell, University of Bristol)

Course description

This course introduces the principles of animal ethology, behavioral development, common behavior problems and legal aspects of clinical animal behavior. Knowledge about ‘normal’ behavior is used to illustrate the different elements which impact on the ultimate behavioral signs shown by individual animals. The importance of the developmental period is examined as well as interactions between health, diet and behavior. Concepts of personality and temperament are considered, along with the interaction between nature and nurture in relation to behavior. This course also introduces the concepts and principles underlying learning theory, and the neurological processes by which learning occurs. Students are introduced to the techniques by which animal behavior can be modified in training and rehabilitation. The development of problem behavior is also covered, introducing behavioral problems and methods of behavioral modification.

Student cohort: Required 40-credit second-year course in Veterinary Nursing with Companion Animal Behavior program

Class size: 25 students

Assignment description

Assignment: Meme e-tivity

For this task we would like you to design an internet meme based on topics covered in the ethology lectures (i.e. anything relating to companion animal evolution, domestication, ethology, or social communication). You aren’t just limited to dogs, you can use any companion animal species!
The meme should demonstrate your ability to highlight an interesting or important concept relating to a relevant topic. The aim is to match the image with text in an imaginative, informative, and attention-grabbing way.
Find an image that you think represents the topic that you want to focus on. Your meme doesn’t need to be hilarious or particularly witty, but it should provide a clear illustration of your message!
You can make your meme using any software that you choose, but here are a couple of suggestions of free online meme generators.
Please reply to this discussion topic by embedding your meme into your reply (please don’t just link to it!). You have until Monday to complete this task, so please make sure that you have posted your meme by then, as we will discuss them in the synchronous online Ethology week ‘wrap up’ session.
And finally…. just to show that the bar for what is funny/imaginative isn’t very high, here’s my attempt; [Students shown an example meme]
Grading: Formative assignment, students given individual feedback.

Companion Animal Behavior (Dr. Miriam Gordon, Dalhousie University)

Course description

In this course, students will study the fundamentals of animal learning and how those principles affect success in training and behavior modification. Attention will be given to understanding and solving behavior problems (e.g. separation anxiety, dominance aggression, fighting, inappropriate urination, and behavioral stereotypes). The focus is on companion animals – dogs and cats. The normal development of behavior in those species will be covered.

Student cohort: Required course for first-year Veterinary Technology Diploma program; Elective for Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Bachelor of Bioveterinary Science.

Class size: 100 students

Assignment description

Assignment: Companion animal behavior in the media
Find a picture/gif/video clip/meme/comic that depicts/references a behavior of a companion animal (cat, dog, horse, rodents, exotic pet, etc.)

You are to describe the following regarding the media piece you chose:

  • Summarize/describe what your media piece is depicting.
  • Is this an accurate depiction of the behavior, some humorous truth, or a misrepresentation? Why or why not?
  • What consequences could this misrepresentation have?
  • How does this relate to a topic we have discussed in class? (if a species we didn’t cover then relate it to the natural behaviors of that species & husbandry of that animal).
  • Use 1–2 references to support (lecture notes are allowed); don’t forget to provide the proper reference for the media piece chosen if it’s not already provided within the media piece.
  • I’m not putting any restriction on word count, but approximately ~250 words.

You have been broken up into small discussion groups. Post your media piece and description in a separate thread within that discussion forum. The activity is meant as a way of reflecting back on some of the things we covered. Have fun with your choices.

Grading: Assignment was worth 5% of final grade; assigned near the end of the semester. The following criteria was described in the rubric for full marks (5 points): The students gave an excellent, clear, and concise overview synopsis and well-described analysis of the media piece and the behavior being depicted. There was clarity in the evaluation and synthesis of theory and practice. References were all provided.

Selected Student Meme Submissions

Evolution and Behavior (Dr. Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, CUNY Hunter College)

An Uno Draw 25 meme which depicts two images, one with an Uno Card with the phrasing “Choose a bad mate” and the phrasing “or draw 25” scribbled on it, and other image which depicts a gentleman holding 25 or more Uno cards with the wording “Females” depicted across.
Figure 1. Meme created by Isabella Dopman.

Using the Uno Draw 25 meme, this submission (Figure 1) represents an example of sexual selection, specifically intersexual selection, where females might avoid mating opportunities with a “bad mate” (e.g. too young, too old, sick, provides low quality resources) due to a gamete differential between the sexes. In this case, the student is suggesting females would prefer to avoid possibly mating opportunities with “bad mates” even if this possibly comes at the cost of missing out on a reproductive opportunity. This meme was inspired by reading Borgia (1995).

A Drake Hotline Bling meme which depicts four total images. The image in the top left corner shows Drake facing away with his hand blocking his view. A corresponding image of a grey/brown bird is placed on the top right corner. The image on the bottom left corner shows Drake smiling while pointing with his hand. A corresponding image of a fully plumaged black and blue male bird of paradise, with green eyes, is depicted.
Figure 2. Meme created by Viktoriya Bernadyn.

Using the Drake Hotline Bling meme, this submission (Figure 2) represents an example of sexual selection, specifically, intersexual selection, where females have a preference for certain secondary sexual characteristics. In this case, the student is suggesting females prefer mating opportunities with ornamented males that perform courtship displays based on a BBC Earth (2015) video.

Introduction to Applied Animal Behavior (Dr. Beth Ventura, University of Minnesota)

An image of Bernie Sanders in a winter scene wearing a grey coat. The phrasing 'Ruth Newberry' is depicted across his forehead while at the bottom of the image the text reads 'I am once again asking you to think about if your enrichment is really improving the biological functioning of captive animals.'
Figure 3. Meme created by Lindsey Narveson.

Using the Bernie Sanders “I am once again asking” meme, this submission (Figure 3) presents the definition of environmental enrichment as defined by Dr. Ruth Newberry’s classical paper, “Environmental enrichment: Increasing the biological relevance of captive environments” (Newberry 1995). The meme plays on Bernie’s emphatic exhortation to highlight the article’s thesis that enrichment must result in improved biological health (functioning) outcomes to be considered effective.

An “Expanding Brain meme” where four graphic images of human heads and brains are depicted. The brains vary in size, starting with small in the top right corner, and become progressively more intricate in design and color as they reach the bottom right image. Each image is associated with wording. The smallest brain image states “plain habitat, no enrichment.” The second smallest brain image states “providing social opportunities for basic development.” The second largest brain image states “introducing scent or structural enrichment.” While the largest brain image states “finding species specific enrichment that increases mental and physical activity while promoting natural behaviors.”
Figure 4. Meme created by Samantha Sage.

Using the “Expanding Brain” meme, this submission (Figure 4) again highlights themes about animal enrichment and welfare, specifically emphasizing the qualitative differences between different approaches to enrich animals.

Companion Animal Behavior (Dr. Emily Blackwell, University of Bristol)

Three white wolves are shown with photoshopped faces. Two of the wolves are “smiling” while one is “grimacing.” Text on the top right hand corner states “Stop laughing at me guys, I’m the alpha,” while text in the bottom left corner states “Dominance theory was debunked years ago Colin, read a book.”
Figure 5. Meme created by Grace Headley.

This submission (Figure 5) relates to a lecture on canine ethology and refers to the outdated view that a rigid hierarchical dominance structure determines canine social behavior towards both other dogs and humans. Using this comical take on a conversation between wolves, the student has highlighted that research on natural populations of wild wolves refutes the early evidence of ‘dominance hierarchies’ and suggests that the groupings are more based on co-operative family groups, where one breeding pair produce puppies and other members of the family assist with rearing them. These groups are based on co-operation, where the parents ‘guide’ their offspring in developing social and hunting skills and there is no ‘alpha’ achieved by strength or aggression. The meme was inspired by reading Bradshaw, Blackwell, and Casey (2009).

An image of a blue car making a very abrupt turn to exit of a highway is presented. There is smoke around the rear tires of the car. At the top of the image a photoshopped highway sign highlights two possible driving paths, staying on the highway and exiting off the highway. Text is associated with staying on the highway and reads “showing sign of having enough attention,” while text associated with exiting the highway reads “biting you.”
Figure 6. Meme created by anonymous student.

This meme (Figure 6) arose from a discussion topic on body language and communication in cats and relates to the common complaint from cat owners that their cat lashes out without warning, particularly when being stroked/petted (https://www.cats.org.uk/cats-blog/behavior-focus-when-cats-attack). The discussion focused on feline ethology and the differences in social communication between an obligate social species such as the dog and domestic cats, whose behavior remains very similar to their solitary wildcat ancestors.

Companion Animal Behavior (Dr. Miriam Gordon, Dalhousie University)

A cartoon image from Craig 2017 with three components is presented. In the first component a yellow dog looks out a window and the text associated reads “it’s just someone walking by. no need to panic.” The second component depicts the same dog staring towards the viewer with an open mouth and the following text “everyone just stay calm.” The final component shows the same yellow dog barking “STAY CALM!” while his or her owner sits on a couch reading a newspaper.
Figure 7. Meme found by student online (Craig 2017).

The remaining meme descriptions were written by students as a part of course requirements. The responses are reproduced and credited to the student authors with permission.

This comic [Figure 7] depicts a dog barking as a person walks past the house. This is a pretty accurate representation of most dogs, as it is very common for dogs to bark a lot, it is their nature, however it does misrepresent the behavior of dogs in some way. First it depicts the dog as if it is scared, and that is why it is barking, however this is not always the case. Barking is a typical behavior exhibited by dogs who, 1. May be overly social and become excited when seeing another person walking by, or 2. May be protecting the home out of a sense of duty to guard their home or their people, 3. The dog may be aggressive towards other people and there are many other reasons a dog may be barking including playfulness, greeting, alarm barking, etc. (ASPCA 2020). This relates to the topic covered in this course as it shows a dog’s typical behavior and body language. In this course we learned about dogs’ body language and how to interpret what they are feeling, this would be beneficial in the case of this dog as if the dog owner knew what was causing the dog to bark it would be much easier to train it out of the dog. In this image the dog has ears back and tail partially down; this could mean a number of things including fear, stress, worry and possibly fearful aggression (Gordon 2020). Understanding this dog’s behavior is key to coming up with an appropriate solution which may include training out incompatible behavior, clicker training or a number of others (Pryor 1999). Finally it is important to recognize that despite all of this training a dog will still bark from time to time and that is its nature (ASPCA 2020), I think this comic does have a good representation of an owner who does not appear to be overly upset about this dogs barking as he recognizes its normal, and may even be performing one of the tricks to training his dog to stop barking (negative reinforcement- removing attention from behavior) (Pryor 1999).
—Staci-Ann Morgan

A cartoon image from Pyle 2020 is presented with four components. The top left component depicts two blue alien figures with their eyes semi-closed. The alien on the right says, “What is the sudden wailing” to which the alien on the left responds “was it the melody machine?” The second image on the top right shows both aliens more awake while the alien on the right responds “No – I deactivated it so we could extend the rest hours.” The component on the bottom left shows both aliens looking towards the window where a curtain blocks the view of a cat and simply a paw is seen. The alien on the left says, “Is there a way to deactivate the creatures wail?” to which the alien on the right responds “Yes.” The final component in the sequence shows the aliens in bed and a cat meowing or vocalizing. The alien on the left responds with “Give them sustenance” while the alien on the right says, “That is how we activated it.”
Figure 8. Meme found by student online (Pyle 2020).

In this witty comic [Figure 8] we can see two owners who have been awoken by a sudden noise, even after turning off their alarm clock in an attempt to sleep in. Their cat is then seen entering the room crying for breakfast. The first owner asks if there is any way to make the meowing stop, to which the other replies “yes, give them sustenance”; the first owner then comments on the fact that feeding the cat when it cries is the reason it cries every morning. This comic shows an accurate depiction of feline behavior that is a reality for many cat owners. This behavior is caused by unintentional reinforcement, a type of positive reinforcement that can unintentionally condition a behavior that is very hard to break, even if it’s only rewarded intermittently (Atkinson 2018). This is a clear example of classical conditioning in which the sound of the alarm clock is initially an unconditioned stimulus that the cat has learned to associate with its owners getting out of bed to feed him, so he meows; the alarm clock has now become a conditioned stimulus (Gordon 2020). When the cat hears the alarm, he meows in anticipation of food even if his owners haven’t gotten out of bed to feed him. Many owners will attempt to extinguish this behavior by ignoring this meowing at first but eventually cave and feed the hungry cat. This delivery of food further reinforces the cat’s belief that meowing after the alarm clock sounds will result in him being fed, and thus the cycle continues. During one of our first lectures we learned about classical conditioning and how it can allow animals to predict certain events such as being fed. I think this comic is a fairly accurate and relatable representation of just how well cats can learn to associate certain sounds with being fed, while still making light of a struggle many cat owners face on a daily basis, myself included!
—Brittany MacLean

An image of a brown dog in a red collar sitting on an ottoman. Throughout the living room scene pieces of papers are scattered and shredded. The text at the top reads “I thought you were gone forever…” while the text at the bottom reads “So I panicked”
Figure 9. Meme found by student online (Uppin 2015).

The meme [Figure 9] depicts what an owner with an anxious dog may come home to. This is an accurate representation. Dogs with separation anxiety tend to be destructive when left alone. This could be misinterpreted by the general public and be seen as cute or funny, but in reality 20–40% of dogs seen by a behavioral specialist suffer from separation anxiety (Arrigo n.d.). It’s a real disorder that many pet owners have to deal with. This relates to the topic we covered in class about dog anxiety. During this lecture we discussed how destruction can be caused by a number of things, including: play behavior, puppy chewing, reaction to certain stimuli, overactivity, fear response or separation anxiety (Gordon 2020).
—Molly Stewart

Final Results and Impact

Instructor assessment

Upon receiving student submissions, all instructors reported that they felt the assignment was successful. In most instances, submitted memes were relevant and accurately reflected the course material. This assignment also had the benefit of being visually appealing, straightforward, and relatively quick to evaluate—a boon to professors everywhere.

In certain instances, some memes were unclear to the instructor. While memes were not required to be “funny,” it is possible that in these instances humor was lost in translation or perhaps students did not digest and comprehend the material presented. While most instructors only required students to submit a meme as a part of the assignment, one instructor (M.G.) required a reflection component where students shared their interpretation of a meme. This allowed the instructor to provide important feedback to students while satisfying the learning objective(s). For future assignments we recommend instructors require students to provide a brief explanation (1–3 sentences) explaining their meme and how it relates to the course material.

While one of the instructors (S-E.B) implemented this assignment to assess comprehension of material in students individually, the other instructors (E.B., M.G., B.V.) allowed students to share and view their memes in small group discussion forums. In the former situation and perhaps due to the novelty of the assignment, some students also expressed a desire to share their memes with classmates. This interest in viewing the memes collectively (either in class synchronously, or outside of class asynchronously) suggests that a group reflection, project, or class vote on the “funniest” memes might further the impact of this assignment. For one course (M.G.), sharing the memes and the reflective summary with classmates served as a review of course material at the end of the semester.

Student feedback

While most of the instructors did not specifically solicit feedback regarding the meme assignment, student evaluations lent support for the assignment. Quotations in this section come from anonymous student responses and are reproduced with names withheld.

I really enjoyed her weekly “Behavior Bites.” [Meme Assignment]…They helped solidify my knowledge and apply it to different questions or situations, and I liked that they were always something fun and different.

The small quizzes and homework assignments were very helpful as well and really helped review and drive home the topics from that week without being overwhelming on the amount of content we had to focus on at one time.

More meme-like activities, they were really fun to make.

I really enjoyed this task as I love making memes and do so quite often, I also find that having funny little vignettes of certain broader subjects also helps for information to ‘stick’ when revising.

It was very engaging and I probably spent way too much time trying to make a decent meme.

I really enjoyed the task and found it very engaging and different.

I think it (the assignment) was excellent. It gave us students a chance to have some fun with it, while still learning and putting our knowledge to the test. It gave me a really good sense of how to look for animal behavior, even in comic pieces. I also got to see just how many different types of media pieces were out there that can negatively impact the way people may perceive certain animal behaviors, I of course used a fairly benign example, but there were others I came across that were funny but with an underlying seriousness. It was a good way to take something that we may look at everyday as we scroll through social media and really understand what the piece was trying to convey and how you can break it down to see what it all means!

Additional Resources

Meme Generators:

Bibliography

ASPCA. “Barking.” ASPCA. Accessed April 6, 2020. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dogcare/common-dog-behavior-issues/barking.

Atkinson, Trudi. 2018. “Practical Feline Behaviour Understanding Cat Behaviour and Improving Welfare”. Oxfordshire, UK: CABI.

Arrigo, Rory. 2020. “Separation Anxiety in Dogs – Veterinary Medicine at Illinois.” University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Accessed April 5, 2020. https://vetmed.illinois.edu/separation-anxiety-dogs/.

BBC Earth. 2015. “The Bowerbird’s Grand Performance! | Life Story | BBC Earth.” YouTube
 video, 4:15. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XkPeN3AWIE&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=BBCEarth

Borgia, Gerald. 1995. “Why do bowerbirds build bowers?” American Scientist 83, no. 6: 542–547.

Bradshaw, John WS, Emily J Blackwell, and Rachel A Casey. 2009. “Dominance in domestic dogs—useful construct or bad habit?” Journal of Veterinary Behavior 4, no. 3:135–144.

Craig, Jimmy. they can talk, February 20, 2017. Accessed April 5, 2020. https://theycantalk.com/post/157464155650/stay-calm.

Finn, Bridgid. 2015. “Measuring motivation in low‐stakes assessments.” ETS Research Report Series 2015, no. 2: 1–17.

Gordon, Miriam. 2020. “Companion Animal Behaviour Lecture Slides.” ANSC2003: Companion Animal Behaviour. Class Lecture at the Department of Animal Science and Aquaculture, Dalhousie University, Truro, Nova Scotia.

Kornhauser, Zachary GC, Jillian Minahan, Karen L Siedlecki, and Jeffrey T Steedle. 2014. “A Strategy for Increasing Student Motivation on Low-Stakes Assessments.” Council for Aid to Education.

Mendez-Reguera, Aniela, and Mildred Vanessa Lopez Cabrera. 2020. “Engaging my gen Z class: teaching with memes.” Medical Science Educator 30, no. 4: 1357–1358.

Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “meme,” accessed February 8, 2021,
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meme.

Newberry, Ruth C. 1995. “Environmental enrichment: increasing the biological relevance of captive environments.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 44, nos. 2–4: 229–243.

Paul, Aditi. 2020. “Memes as means for understanding interpersonal communication: A formative assignment.” Communication Teacher 34, no. 4: 346–354.

Pryor, Karen. 1999. Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training. New York: Bantam.

Pyle, Nathan W. 2020. w a i l [Comic], accessed April 6, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/B91poH2lo5V/

Scardina, Ciro. 2017. “Through the Lens of Popular Culture.” Teacher Librarian 45, no. 2: 13–16.

Uppin, Tasmai. 2015. Photograph, accessed April 5, 2020. https://barkpost.com/life/solutions-for-separation-anxiety/

Warnock, Scott. 2013. “Frequent, low-stakes grading: Assessment for communication, confidence.” Faculty Focus.

Wells, Dominic D. 2018. “You all made dank memes: Using internet memes to promote critical thinking.” Journal of Political Science Education 14, no. 2: 240–248.


Acknowledgments

The authors of this piece would like to acknowledge that this assignment was inspired through discussion on Twitter. In an attempt to navigate this new, and hybrid world, the authors of the piece came together in a virtual way, having never met before in person, to share the success of implementing a meme assignment. While each instructor implemented this meme assignment a bit differently, the ideas behind this assignment would not have been possible without inspiration from colleagues on Twitter. Authors contributed equally and are listed in alphabetical order.

About the Authors

Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere is the Director of CUNY Hunter College’s Thinking Dog Center and an Assistant Professor within the Animal Behavior and Conservation Program in the Psychology Department. She studies animal behavior, specializing in canine behavior and cognition. Sarah’s research includes topics such as illusion susceptibility, play behavior, dog training methodologies, and animal sheltering practices. She has published her research in peer-reviewed scientific journals, presented her findings at conferences, and has been featured on NPRs Science Friday, The New York Daily News, Gizmodo, and CuriosityStream. Twitter: @SEByosiere. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere at sb4894@hunter.cuny.edu.

Emily Blackwell is the Director of Companion Animal Population Health at University of Bristol Veterinary School, where her research focuses on trying to understand how and why our pets behave as they do. Playing a key role in advancing the knowledge base in companion animal behavior and welfare, Emily is particularly interested in understanding how we can improve the lives of our pets, by predicting, preventing and treating the psychological disorders experienced by a significant proportion of pets. She leads the ‘Bristol Cats’ study, a unique longitudinal study into the health and welfare of domestic cats and her research informs her clinical work and teaching. Twitter: @DrEmilyB

Miriam Gordon is a Senior Instructor at Dalhousie University within the Department of Animal Science and Aquaculture, Faculty of Agriculture. She supervises both honors and graduate student research on topics that range from the use of dogs in scent detection of agriculture diseases, to applied welfare research directly on farms. She teaches a variety of behavior, welfare, and physiology courses to diploma, undergraduate, and post-graduate students. Dr. Gordon was awarded the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture Early Career Teaching Excellence Award in 2018. Twitter: @mimsybg

Beth Ventura is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota, US. As an animal welfare scientist, she applies mixed approaches toward the improvement of captive animal welfare and has a special interest in uncovering the human-level barriers that hinder translation of science into practice. To that end, much of her research uses approaches from the social sciences to understand how diverse stakeholders perceive and make decisions around animal welfare. She teaches a number of applied ethology, welfare, and ethics courses to undergraduate and post-graduate students and coaches UMN’s animal welfare judging team. Twitter: @drsassenach




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