Experienced UIS Faculty shared their teaching experiences as part of the 2017 Faculty Teaching & Learning Academy at UIS. This program was administered by the Provost’s Office at UIS.
Various scholars and researchers have summarized how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide to writing measurable and effective learning outcomes. This is important when designing an online class, because without a clear idea of what you want your students to have mastered at the end of the class, it is difficult to design assessments and activities that will help your students achieve the intended outcome.
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From Arizona State University:
- Identify the noun, or thing you want students to learn.
- Example: seven steps of the research process
- Identify the level of knowledge you want. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six levels of learning. It’s important to choose the appropriate level of learning, because this directly influences the type of assessment you choose to measure your students’ learning.
- Example: to know the seven steps of the research process (comprehension level)
- Select a verb that is observable to describe the behavior at the appropriate level of learning. A tool we use for choosing appropriate verbs corresponding to selected levels is the RadioJames Objectives Builder.
- Example: Describe these steps
- Add additional criteria to indicate how or when the outcome will be observable to add context for the student.
- Describe the seven steps of the research process when writing a paper.
From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library:
You can use Bloom’s taxonomy to identify verbs to describe student learning. Examples of learning outcomes verbs for library instruction include:
- Knowledge/Remembering: define, list, recognize
- Comprehension/Understanding:characterize, describe, explain, identify, locate, recognize, sort
- Application/Applying: choose, demonstrate, implement, perform
- Analysis/Analyzing: analyze, categorize, compare, differentiate
- Evaluation/Evaluating: assess, critique, evaluate, rank, rate
- Synthesis/Creating: construct, design, formulate, organize, synthesize
There are some verbs to avoid when writing learning outcomes. These verbs are vague and often not observable or measurable. For example, how would you measure whether someone has “become familiar with” a particular tool? Use a more specific verb. If you want students to “understand” something, think more closely about what you want them to be able to do or produce as a result of their “understanding.”
Verbs to avoid:
- Know about
- Become familiar with
- Learn about
- Become aware of
From the University of Arkansas:
How Bloom’s works with course level and lesson level objectives:
- Course level objectives are broad. You may only have 3-5 course level objectives. They would be difficult to measure directly because they overarch the topics of your entire course.
- Lesson level objectives are what we use to demonstrate that a student has mastery of the course level objectives. We do this by building lesson level objectives that build toward the course level objective. For example, a student might need to demonstrate mastery of 8 lesson level objectives in order to demonstrate mastery of one course level objective.
- Because the lesson level objectives directly support the course level objectives, they need to build up the Bloom’s taxonomy to help your students reach mastery of the course level objectives. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to to make sure that the verbs you choose for your lesson level objectives build up to the level of the verb that is in the course level objective. The lesson level verbs can be below or equal to the course level verb, but they CANNOT be higher in level. For example, your course level verb might be an Applying level verb, “illustrate.” Your lesson level verbs can be from any Bloom’s level that is equal or below this level (applying, understanding, or remembering).
Steps towards writing effective learning objectives:
- Make sure there is one measurable verb in each objective.
- Each objective needs one verb. Either a student can master the objective, or they fail to master it. If an objective has two verbs (say, define and apply), what happens if a student can define, but not apply? Are they demonstrating mastery?
- Ensure that the verbs in the course level objective are at least at the highest Bloom’s Taxonomy as the highest lesson level objectives that support it. (Because we can’t verify they can evaluate, if our lessons only taught them (and assessed) to define.)
- Strive to keep all your learning objectives measurable, clear and concise.
If you are getting ready to teach online for the first time, there are several critical items to consider:
- What are my learning outcomes or intended course objectives?
While there are several theories or models of online instruction that may be helpful as you begin to conceptualize and design your online course, many instructors find it helpful to begin with backward design, in which you first consider the learning goals of your course (i.e. what you want your students to have learned when they finish your course). Only after you have determined what your goals are, should you begin to think about assignments and activities that help students achieve those goals. Objectives and outcomes should be measurable and aligned to professional standards in your field.
- Who are my students?
Universities serve an increasingly diverse array of students from the traditional college aged, to adult learners who come back to school to advance in their professions by acquiring new skills and knowledge. As you consider your audience, think about how you might develop assignments and activities that encourage self-determined learning (i.e. a heutagogical approach).
- How can I make sure my course materials are accessible to all students?
Employing principles of universal accessibility and design means that your course content will be accessible to all student who might enroll in your course, including students with visual, auditory, or other impairments. Additionally, it means that you have taken the extra step to ensure that your content reaches students with a variety of different learning styles; this means using varying formats and methods to impart knowledge.
While this may seem like a challenge, COLRS staff is ready to assist. Please contact your individual liaison for individual consultation, or contact our main office for any further assistance you may need:
Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Liaison to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Carrie Levin, 217-206-8499, email@example.com
Liaison to the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Public Affairs and Administration: Emily Boles, 217-206-8311, firstname.lastname@example.org
Liaison to the College of Business and Management: Michele Gribbins, 217-206-8251, email@example.com
Learn our top tips for wrapping up your online course, including the best practices for ensuring good returns on your course evaluations.
Wrapping Up the Semester Handout
Jessica Phillips, MAEd, MAPsy, Instructional Designer &Universal Design and Accessibility Coordinator, Ohio State University
In “Maximizing Learning, Creativity and Innovation for All”, Jessica presents tips for providing learning experiences that will be meaningful to students of a wide variety of abilities,disabilities, experiences, learning preferences, and motivation through principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
In this workshop, learn our top tips for assessing and tweaking your online course at the midpoint of the semester, as well as the process for online proctored exams and more.
Midpoint Course Checklist
50 classroom assessment techniques
In this workshop, learn our top tips for starting the semester in an online course. Later this term, we’ll offer tips on the midpoint and concluding your online courses.
Checklist for Starting the Semester in your online course
In our media-centric society, the desire and need for online learning is at an all-time high. However, as more academic content goes online, the industry is running into a stumbling block as they struggle to make their online courses accessible. With recent lawsuits in higher education and updates to Section 508 on the horizon, it is more important than ever that online learning content be made accessible to students with disabilities.
In this webinar, Janet Sylvia, Web Accessibility Group Leader and Web Accessibility Trainer, will provide you with 10 tips for making your online course material accessible.
Janet will cover:
- The challenges of making online course content accessible
- The legal landscape for online learning and accessibility
- Challenges and solutions for instructors and administrators
- Developing an accessibility statement and accessibility policies
- 10 tips for creating accessible course content
Web Accessibility Trainer
Sponsored by: 3 Play Media
Download 10 Tips Handout (PDF)
The annual Innovating Pedagogy report explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation.
Produced by the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, the report identifies ten educational terms, theories and practices that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice in the near future.
Featured in 2014’s annual report:
- Massive open social learning
- Learning design informed by analytics
- Flipped classrooms
- Bring your own devices
- Learning to learn
- Dynamic assessment
- Event-based learning
- Learning through storytelling
- Threshold concepts
The report can be downloaded at: http://www.openuniversity.edu/sites/www.openuniversity.edu/files/The_Open_University_Innovating_Pedagogy_2014_0.pdf
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research completes research “conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialog, and strengthen families, communities, and societies” (source).
In November 2014, IWPR published a fact sheet on college students who are also parents, and over a quart of them are. Read the students who are parents fact sheet
Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons, led a discussion of “eTextbooks and Open Educational Resources” to help University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) student leaders understand the local and global education opportunities when digital content, the internet and open licensing are combined. View the recording of Cable Green’s lecture.Movie Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
Sustaining Students: Retention Strategies in an Online Program
by Emily Boles, Barbara Cass, Carrie Levin, Raymond E. Schroeder, and Sharon McCurdy Smith
Published on Wednesday, December 15, 2010
- With students spread across 47 states and a dozen countries, the University of Illinois at Springfield faces a significant challenge in promoting student persistence.
- Program coordinators who know each student majoring in their online degree program keep in close touch with those students to assure that their learning and academic planning needs are met.
- Online student peer mentors who model best student practices and serve as a liaison between students and faculty members provide effective support in selected classes.
- These and other approaches have resulted in an online course completion rate that hovers just two to three percent below the on-campus completion rate, and the degree-completion rate among online students is equally strong.
Read the complete article at: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/sustaining-students-retention-strategies-online-program
Adding TEC-VARIETY is the latest book by Curt Bonk of Indiana University, written in collaboration with Elaine Khoo, from the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
It is an OPEN book, which means it is freely available online. Download your copy at http://tec-variety.com/
“What a grand book! This is going to be a highly valuable resource for countless instructors and designers in online learning. “Adding TEC-VARIETY” is unique in that it combines the theoretical and pedagogical foundations of effective learning with 100 easy-to-implement activities that promote the engagement of online students in deep learning. These strategies can instantly breathe life into courses that fail to tap the enthusiasm and imagination of students. TEC-VARIETY has become a handbook for my design of engagement in online classes.”
Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning and Founding Director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS), University of Illinois Springfield
The Timing – A barrier for course evaluation completion is timing the evaluation close to finals (Cottreau & Hatfield 2001). At UIS, course evaluations become available three weeks prior to the end of the semester. Thus, begin asking for feedback earlier in the semester!
You might be concerned that that timing may be too early to get accurate feedback from students, as not all activities and assignments have yet been completed. Research has shown, however, that the results of course evaluations completed earlier in a course are highly correlated with results of course evaluations completed finals week or after (McNulty et al. 2010). Not only do you increase the likelihood of having a higher response rate, students completing evaluations earlier provided more qualitative feedback than students completing evaluations later (McNulty et al. 2010). At UIS, these additional (write-in) comments are provided only to the instructor and are not added to the instructor’s faculty file.
The Frequency – For online course evaluations, post announcements as many times and in as many places as you can:
- Post the link in your syllabus.
- Create a specific announcement about the evaluation.
Sample Announcement – Today, course evaluations are open online. These are very important in improving the quality of classes at UIS. They also are an important instrument used in the promotion and tenure process for faculty members. Please take a few moments to fill out the evaluations for this class and any others you may be taking that have online evaluations: https://uisapp-s.uis.edu/evaluation/ . These evaluations are available only through Saturday, May 4. (Thanks!)
- Include the link to the evaluation in emails and announcements until the end date (And remember the course evaluation is available at x until x date).
- Add as an item to the course calendar
Tell Students Why It’s Important – Remind students why course evalutions are important at UIS and remind them that you cannot see the feedback until after final grades are due and that it will not impact their grade in any way. Students are more likely to respond if they knew how their evaluations will be used and what decisions their responses will influence (Kidd & Latif 2003, Anderson et al. 2005; Cottreau & Hatfield 2001; Hatfield & Coyle 2013). The largest factor for not completing evaluations is that students believe the evaluations will not result in change or would not benefit them (Hatfield & Coyle 2013).
The Method – For on-campus classes at UIS, faculty have the choice of having online or in-class evaluations. Research is mixed on whether online or paper evaluations result in higher response rate, as shown below:
- Compared with paper surveys, online evaluations have been associated with increased response rates (Barnett & Matthews 2009; Anderson et al. 2005; Thorpe 2002; Hatfield & Coyle 2013).
- Online ratings produce a lower response rate than in-class ratings (Avery, Bryant, Mathios, Kang, & Bell, 2006; Benton, Webster, Gross, & Pallett, 2010 ; IDEA, 2011; Nulti, 2008).
Your class’s typical attendance rate should be considered when deciding whether the in-class or online evaluation will be more effective.
Each year the New Media Consortium (NMC) and Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) publish the Horizon Report, a look ahead at technologies that will impact education in the next one, three, and five years.
The report “charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression” based on interactions with “technology professionals, campus technologists, faculty leaders from colleges and universities, and representatives of leading corporations” (from Horizon Project).
Laurel Newman, Te-Wei Wang and Marcel Yoder led an excellent discussion about time management in online teaching. Watch the recorded Blackboard Collaborate session to learn their strategies.
A publication by Virginia Commonwealth University provides 7 Steps for Providing Constructive Online Discussion Feedback Successfully. Their suggested template for feedback includes:
- Start with something positive – “You did very well in this week’s discussion.”
- State the grade and reason right away – “This week you earned 20/25 points.”
- State the correction as a reminder or recommendation – “Remember, five postings are needed for full participation points.”
- Provide an example or tip to reach the goal – “Here’s an example of a solution that earned full points.”
- State your expectation – “In the upcoming weeks, I will be looking for….”
- Remind them of available help – “Your success is important to me, so please email me when you have questions.”
- End with something motivational – “This was a tough assignment, but you did well overall.”
The complete article can be found here
“Based upon proven research and informed by practical experience, this Blended Learning Toolkit will offer guidance, examples, professional development, and other resources to help you prepare your own blended learning courses and programs.”
The following is from Constructivism and Online Education by Doolittle:
Constructivism is a theory of knowledge acquisition, not a theory of pedagogy; thus, the nexus of constructivism and online education is tentative, at best. Constructivism posits that knowledge acquisition occurs amid four assumptions:
- Knowledge involves active cognizing by the individual.
- Knowledge is adaptive, facilitating individual and social efficacy.
- Knowledge is subjective and self-organized, not objective.
- Knowledge acquisition involves both sociocultural and individual processes.
These four assumptions have led, indirectly, to eight primary pedagogical recommendations:
- Learning should take place in authentic and real-world environments.
- Learning should involve social negotiation and mediation.
- Content and skills should be made relevant to the learner.
- Content and skills should be understood within the framework of the learner’s prior knowledge.
- Students should be assessed formatively, serving to inform future learning experiences.
- Students should be encouraged to become self-regulatory, self-mediated, and self-aware.
- Teachers serve primarily as guides and facilitators of learning, not instructors.
- Teachers should provide for and encourage multiple perspectives and representations of content.
The question then arises, can an online medium support this pedagogy that is based on the constructivist assumptions?
More on Constructivism