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Heather Peters: My dream: Learning design project proposal

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Heather Peters
12 January 2013

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Heather Peters
2:53am 12 January 2013


Heather Peters: Adapting PSI (personalised system of instruction) to encourage mastery and collaborative learning in an online psychology course

My Situation:

As the number of students enrolled in my classes increase, providing students with the one-on-one support they need is becoming increasingly difficult. Forum discussions, assignment feedback and chat sessions cannot meet each individual’s needs. There are always students who require extra guidance to learn the topic and it is becoming harder to reach them. I am familiar with the basic ideas behind Keller’s Personalised System of Instruction and think it may offer a solution to this dilemma. Not only does it enable a more individualized approach and encourage mastery, it creates a collaborative learning environment.

 

Describe the material and social characteristics of the environment in which you operate. Where will your project take place? Who are the main actors involved? Include images, videos, sketches - anything that would help others understand the opportunities and constraints you are dealing with.

My students come from a wide range of backgrounds. I’ve had students with PhDs and students who never finished secondary school; students who are 18 and students who are 65; students who are IT experts and students who have never used a computer before.  While these examples illustrate the extremes I think that the challenges this raises when I teach the course are clear.

Keller (1968, as cited in Eyre, 2007) “outlined five basic components that he deemed to be essential for a PSI class: (1) mastery of course material, (2) the use of proctors, (3) self-pacing, (4) stress upon the written word, and (5) use of lectures and demonstrations primarily for motivational purposes” (p. 317).

Although originally developed for face-to-face teaching, the PSI (Personalised System of Instruction) approach seems well suited for use in online learning. In particular, it would benefit students who enroll in a course I teach called Behaviour Modification. The course is pitched at a second-year university level. The nature of the topic requires mastery of core concepts early in the course. Without mastering the basic concepts students are not able to apply that knowledge later on in the course when more complex concepts are introduced. 

If students become frustrated early in the course they are less likely to complete. Online learning can leave students feeling isolated and this may only compound the effect of any frustrations. Integrating PSI into the course would be a massive task given time and resource constraints, but I am hoping even a step in that direction will increase student engagement and success. From what I have read the ideal first step seems to be to introduce the idea of student proctors in the form of peer-to-peer learning.

 

 

 

 

The change you would like to see (challenge)

 

What do you hope to achieve? What would be different if you succeed?

This project is only the first step towards meeting a larger goal. The goal of this particular project is to increase collaborative learning and student engagement. I feel this will create an online environment where students will feel ‘safe’ to ask for help and supported by their classmates. In turn, as students work together they will rely less on the lecturer to provide knowledge and develop the skills they need to construct their own learning.

 

How you might go about bringing that change

 

What is your pedagogical approach? Which technologies will you use to implement it, and how?

This project comes from a behavior analytic approach that is, in turn, informed by research on student engagement and success.

 

The course is online and presented in Moodle format. The technology required is already available as it can be used to set up groups/forums/wikis and so on.

 

I will need to decide exactly how the system will be set up. The approach will also be to provide incentives at both the group and individual level. This will reduce the risk of social loafing, which is common in group work.

 

 

 

(Also see notes above regarding PSI.)

 

 

 

 

Scott Johnson
3:24am 12 January 2013


Hi Heather,

Your ideas sound very interesting and relevant to my goal to understand how to both offer individual attention to each student within the reality of having many students at many levels of academic or trades skills. I work as an assistant instructional designer in Moodle at a tiny former polytechnic college in northern Alberta Canada. Our students are isolated and many have never been off the reserves or outside the small commuinties they originate from. The education establishment has not served these people well and it seems a worthy challenge to try and change this.

My academic qualifications are virtually nil. Dropped out of art school 40 years ago and worked in the building trades until my health gave out. By chance the local college hired me to do some online research and from there I moved into ID doing grundge work in the boiler room of the Moodle backside.

PSI sounds interesting especially proctoring and its connection to partnering students to practicing professionals as happens in nursing, trades and many of the odd jobs I had as a kid when businesses were owned by individuals and not corporate outlets.

If you need extra assistance with your project let me know. I think my cloud is #7087 which means we are practically neighbours or that I haven't read all the information before jumping in:-)

Take Care, Scott Johnson

Heather Peters
10:02pm 12 January 2013


Hi Scott,

I really appreciate you offer to help and provide guidance - I'm not certain how the teams we are setting up will work but would you be interested in forming a team? I have also looked at a project by AnitaMonty (#7024) and can see similarities across the projects. Perhaps we can all work together. What do you think?

Cheers, Heather Peters

PS I'll post to Anita's project as well to let her know about your project too. I'm hoping to hear from her soon.

Scott Johnson
11:51pm 12 January 2013


Hi Heather,

Thanks for the reply and description of what you do. The post secondary system here is being pushed by the same sort of measures the New Zealand system is enduring. I work at the lowest level of college / trades school where students are frequently total strangers to expectations and self-motivation yet we are now told seats in classes will only be financed based graduation rates. This of course will pass on the curse of the American system where results are the only focus and learning actually becomes an impediment to processing "successful" students.

Some of our students can take up to 4 tries to pass a course and in the logic of manufacturing graduators these people are defective products to be abandoned. It's sad and a direct betrayal of the whole concept public education to process humans like this and my natural response would be to throw the whole system out. Except giving up isn't helpful and the fact is we do need some sort of educational service to function as a society and ejecting the top layer is too time consuming so while they gaze in fascination of their shallow selves we work away creating something real.

My wife is trained in Instructional Design and got her degree after she retired from 25 years of Red Cross water safety instruction. In fact everyone in the family are habitual extension service course fanatics so I do often feel out of place at work where my love of learning is seen as an aberration. In fact, having only been working in "education" for 5 years I have to say it is the only career that seems to think curiosity and voluntary intellectual effort are indications mental imbalance! In an interesting twist, besides having no qualifications I do have the advantage of no job description which allows me a certain freedom to speak when others are afraid for their status. This happily allows me to help others without seeming to be crossing lines of permission, or apparently needing permission. (Many years of self-employment contribute to this and I do pay the price of poor wages and low status—which gets me out of dealing with boring people).

It seems odd to me that behaviour analysis would be considered a sub-specialty of psychology. How people become people and evidence that is pretty important. Maybe people think of bad acting in the behaviourist school when they hear the "B" word. I know people react poorly to the mention of Frans De Wall and primate behavioural studies in the midst of discussions on departmental structuring. Overly sensitive I guess?

Anyway, looks like I'll be in Anita's peer to peer group. Have you picked a project?

Scott

Heather Peters
7:29pm 13 January 2013


Hi Scott,

I've been mulling over a project and am thinking a bit of how I might integrate some behavioural theory into design.

I'm not certain about Moodle group function - my institution uses 2.0. Any tips on how to work the group function so that students can assign themselves to groups, or so that I could quasi-randomly assign students (that may need to be done after enrolments are complete I think)?

Have you thought about a project?

Heather

Heather Peters
7:29pm 13 January 2013


Hi Scott,

I've been mulling over a project and am thinking a bit of how I might integrate some behavioural theory into design.

I'm not certain about Moodle group function - my institution uses 2.0. Any tips on how to work the group function so that students can assign themselves to groups, or so that I could quasi-randomly assign students (that may need to be done after enrolments are complete I think)?

Have you thought about a project?

Heather

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