Dr. Karsten A. Loepelmann


"Blanks" Frequently Asked Questions


1. What’s up with all the blanks in the online lecture notes?


I used to post full lecture notes--but a funny thing started to happen. Fewer and fewer students showed up for class. A couple of times in my small summer classes, no one showed up! :-(


So now, applying a bit of psychology, I blank out important words in the lecture notes to encourage students to come to class, and also to make note-taking more interactive.



2. I missed a class! Can you send me the fill-ins now?


My policy is to get you to ask someone in class. That way, you can:

  • get the blanks filled in
  • get annotations that people make
  • get to know someone in the class

If I were to give you the fill-ins, that’s all you would get--and you’d be missing all of the other things that I talk about in class. (Yes, some of the things I say are important--they may even be on an exam!)


You really should get to know someone in each of your classes. Your education is your responsibility. This is one thing that I happen to be quite serious about.



3. But I missed class for a really good reason. Can you send me the fill-ins now?


What do you do in classes that have no online lecture notes? Borrow the notes from someone else in class, right?



4. But I don’t know anyone in class. Can you send me the fill-ins now?


The University is a big place, with lots of people. But although you are surrounded by people, you may not get to know a single person in any of your classes--unless someone makes the effort (hint, hint).


It’s a good idea to get to know someone else, in case you (or they) miss a class. That way, you can contact each other to find out what you missed. I’m not asking you to become busom buddies or lifelong pals, and I’m not telling you to give out your home address to a stranger. Maybe try exchanging e-mail addresses.



5. Why don’t you highlight or underline the missing words in your in-class slides?


That’s a great suggestion. It doesn’t work. I tried underlining the “fill-in” words in a class once, which resulted in many students having conversations in class instead of paying attention. It was so disruptive, I’m never going to attempt that again--sorry.


By the way, I also also tried posting all the fill-ins right before the midterm, but this caused a sharp-dropoff in attendance, as well as an overall decline in grades (!).



6. Why are you treating us like babies with these fill-ins?


I’m disappointed you interpret my effort this way. In university, it’s your decision whether or not to come to class. I’m trying my best to teach my courses in an informative and engaging way--and to try and motivate you to learn. Not everyone learns the same way, however.


If you really don’t like the fill-in approach (or feel that I’m going too slowly) you don’t have to use the notes, you can write them down longhand--it’s your choice.



7. I can’t write in those tiny blanks. What can I do?


I’ve designed my web pages to be resized. All you have to do is embiggen the font size, and you should have plenty of room.

  • in Microsoft Internet Explorer, "File", then "Print Preview...", then select the size you want from the dropdown menu
  • in Firefox, click "File", then "Print Preview" then select the size you want from the "Scale:" dropdown menu
  • in Safari, click "View", then "Text Size" to add two buttons to the Safari toolbar that you can then click to adjust the size of text

Adjust to your preference. The notes should now print in this adjusted size.



8. I’d like to load the notes into my computer and type the words in the blanks. How can I do that?


Do not cut and paste, because you’ll lose all of the pretty formatting. A better way is to start your word processor (like Microsoft Word) and go to File - Open and paste the URL (e.g., http://www.ualberta.ca/%7Ekloepelm/104/p104s01intro.html) of the notes page you want, instead of clicking on a file name. This will retain the formatting.


If your word processor cannot open URLs (e.g., Pages), first point your web browser to the page of notes you want, then save the web page to your computer. You can then load the page into your word processor and save it in whatever format you choose. Alternatively, you can also upload the web page on your computer to Google Drive.



9. I kept all my notes on my computer and it crashed. Will you send me the fill-in words?


Haven’t you heard about making backups? I like Western Digital’s My Book Live. You can even store your important data in the cloud (for free!) with SugarSync, DropBox, Box, or even Google Drive.


Saying that you lost all your data because it wasn’t backed up is today’s equivalent of “my dog ate my homework”.



10. What is this “fill-in” technique called?


I call it the Modified Cloze Procedure for Instruction (MCPI). It’s named after the “Cloze procedure.” I adapted it from its original purpose, measuring readability. For more information, see


Taylor, W.L. (1953). Cloze procedure: A new tool for measuring readability. Journalism Quarterly, 30, 415-433.


It’s my small contribution to pedagogy (“the art, science, or profession of teaching”). This words stems from the Greek paidagogos: “slave who took children to and from school”. But don’t be asking me for rides home, OK?