Blog #7 – Reflections

After taking the time to review our course syllabus and what we have accomplished over these 4 months, it was fun to see all we have had the opportunity to learn.  My awareness to didactic education has expanded immensely and I am grateful for that experience.  There is so much time and effort spent when creating a course and planning a learning environment for students which my awareness was heightened in the course.  I also learned that an instructors own sense of creativity permeates the foundation of the class.  Each module provided a chance to learn something new about a topic which I only knew from the perspective of a student.  I feel that I have a better foundation now for didactic teaching when presented with the opportunity.  In fact, this course was pivotal in guiding me through my first experience teaching a topic in a class period this semester to first year dental hygiene students.  I used the flipped classroom experience approach.  It was a great experience to have learned about the flipped classroom and to put it into practice with a group of students.  What I found most valuable about the experience was taking time to reflect after it occurred.  It was through this action I was able to see what worked in the two hours I had with the students and where I could improve.  One area I hope to work on is being a guide as students discuss topics in their individual groups and weaving it together as the discussion moves with the entire class.

As for what I hope to carry with me when I enter an academic career, the topics that were very helpful were the active learning modules, the syllabus module and assessment modules.  I liked being exposed to alternative methods for instruction.  It was fun to learn about alternative ways to engage students in the learning process.  An important concept I grasped was learning how to construct a syllabus and understanding the importance of alignment of course objectives and goals with assessments.  My confidence has grown in how to construct a course.  This, along with the exposure I have had to create an innovative classroom and alternative ways of instruction has given me a foundation in which to grow and strengthen as a future instructor.

I felt that the topic I most connected with was constructing a syllabus and the assessment assignments.  I don’t feel very strong in assessment design yet but understanding the importance of this step in the education process resonated with me.  Assessments and creating a syllabus felt like a puzzle that needed to be put together.  I enjoyed the process.

This course, I believe, will be a course that I will refer back to over and over again in a future academic career.  The information presented in our course text books has been a good resource for me and will continue to be for the future.  I have appreciated the feedback and reflections of those in my class from their own personal experience in education to their own reflection on what we have learned.  I look forward to seeing how other instructors incorporate and define innovative teaching in their classroom and I look forward to continuing to learn and to put into practice what this means to me.  Thank you for this foundation.

Blog #6 – Assessment Continued

Throughout the last two semesters as we prepared materials for a course, created our syllabus and now created ways to assess students on their understanding of the material, I have found the following as the most challenging aspect.  It is making sure that the ways of assessment mirror the objectives of the course material and that the assessments help identify a student’s comprehensive understanding of the course material. The importance of this is so the course instructor can see the depth of knowledge a student has gained through the course.

In The Nurse Educator’s Guide to Assessing Learning Outcomes McDonald discusses the numerous ways in which an instructor tests student’s on comprehension of material.  Some of those ways include multiple choice questions, short answer and or essay questions, true/false exams and assessments that have rubrics for students to use as their guide in the assignment.  Each method takes time, planning well enough in advance to prepare for the task as well as reflection after the assessment is given to determine the validity of the assessment.  Writing assessments that mirror the objectives of the course is an important component.  The action word used in the objective is a clue to what types of assessments are appropriate.  This was a concept I did not have a grasp on until our exercise in our recent synchronous class.  A light bulb went off for me and I understand why the objectives needed to be written clearly and directly and how a properly structured class gives direction for the students throughout the course.

Another challenge I experienced as I was doing the assessment assignment was how difficult it can be to write a rubric.  I have worked with rubrics as a student and as a faculty member.  I love a rubric that is direct so students know how to achieve the most possible points as well as a rubric that helps faculty members be calibrated.   My initial thought was that it would be an easy task of constructing a rubric.  The challenge I had was the ability to show clear distinctions in the criteria section.  I began to write what I was looking for in a student to achieve all the points possible.  The next step I took was to determine what the product would look like if a student did not achieve any points on the assignment.  Now, I was left to figure out the criteria between the two extremes.  This was the tough part.  I kept reflecting on what I was writing to determine if it was clear and different from criteria in other scoring levels.  It was helpful to have another individual read the rubric to see if it was clear to them if they were to do the assignment.

As with preparing a presentation, lecture or incorporating a new approach to a learning environment in a classroom preparing assessments for students takes time, practice, reflection and dedication in achieving an excellent product.


Blog #5 – Assessment

Whether a dental hygiene student is in an entry-level associate program or entry-level baccalaureate program the purpose of these programs is to take a student who has no prior dental hygiene education experience and prepare them to become clinical dental hygienist.  For a student to become a clinical dental hygienist that student will graduate from a CODA-accredited dental hygiene school.  There is also a number of tests a student will take and pass to ensure they are competent to begin the practice of dental hygiene to the public.  These include the following: a written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination; a Clinical Regional Board or State Board Examination; a jurisprudence and ethics examination in the state where they desire to get their licensure.  As dental hygiene faculty our job is to educate students so they have the opportunity to be prepared for the examinations prior to licensure and the tools in their hands so they can join the professional workforce prepared with the ability to critically think and engage effectively with the public.

While assessing students to determine if they are grasping the material presented and to determine if they are competent to progress throughout the program, I believe there are key types of assessments that prepare a student for the National Board examination and Regional or State clinical examination and graduating.  Since the National Board Examination is constructed of multiple choice questions and case studies, using assessments of examinations and quizzes would be critical in assessing a student’s knowledge of material with course material.  Quizzes and examinations can be used in three ways.  Chapter 4 in The Nurse Educator’s Guide to Assessing Learning Outcomes by McDonald, discusses ways in which exams and quizzes can be used.  A teacher can use a pre-test to determine what a student knows prior to learning the topic.  Formative assessment, for example in the form of a quiz, is helpful for the teacher to determine if their instructional approach is effective.  A summative exam or quiz is an assessment of students on their comprehension of the learning objectives.  Quizzes and exams can be given in many formats where students use high levels of thinking and/or recall information.

Skill assessments are crucial in assessing competency of students in performing a myriad of skills required to be a dental hygienist.  Skill assessments should happen starting from a student’s first semester to evaluate if a student is competent to progress in a program safely while working on patients.  Skill assessments provide an environment that is similar to a clinical board where a student demonstrates the skill of selecting an appropriate patient for boards through the dental hygiene treatment of the patient in a clinical setting.  When I was a dental hygiene student we had to pass three mock boards in clinic prior to graduation.  This element, I felt, prepared me mentally for taking boards.  It is a much different experience being assessed on a clinical product or demonstrating a skill in front of a teacher as opposed to taking a written test.

Finally, I believe that writing assessments and projects such as a portfolio presentations or case study presentations are ways in which to assess a student’s ability to apply the knowledge that is learned.  In my junior year of dental hygiene school I completed a clinic case presentation.  My senior year I had another case presentation along with writing a paper to be included in the case presentation over a subject of my choice that I learned about working with the particular patient.  My senior year of dental hygiene school also had me completing a digital portfolio.  In this portfolio I demonstrated how I met the core competencies of the program and included documentation of these experiences, papers, projects and reflections. These assessments gave me the opportunity to synthesis the information I was learning to then present the information in my own words.  I was able to reflect upon my education and critically assess classes and projects in the classes that allowed me to meet these core competencies in preparing me to be a clinical dental hygienist.  I have found these exercises to be the most rewarding in my educational experiences and as I continue in my education.

Blog #4 – The Experience of Online Education

There are a number of similarities of online teaching and learning and face to face teaching and learning.  I took an online course over ten years ago that gave me a negative perspective of online education.  I know now that this certain experience does not have to define online education just like face to face courses do not have to be defined by strictly a lecture type course and classroom.  I believe that the instructors knowledge of the material and the way they are able to guide students is so important in both types of course situations.  An instructor can be approachable in both a face to face course and an online teaching course.  An instructor can be innovative in both an online course and a face to face course.  As with any teaching method an effective instructor takes time in planning the course, giving appropriate feedback and evaluations through the course and setting realistic expectations for students.  As a student learning in an online environment  or face to face I am still responsible for knowing the course syllabus and expectations of a course and preparing and engaging in the class.   A student in any type of learning environment also needs to identify how they can best learn the course information for understanding and implementation.  A feeling of community can happen in both an online course and face to face course.

A significant difference I see challenging as an instructor in an online course is not seeing non-verbal cues of students in a day in and day out basis in a classroom.  The students and instructor need to be more intentional in their communications and expectations or there can be missed cues with the nature of digital communication.  A synchronous online session tends to reduce that gap with the ability to see classmates and the instructor face to face.  Another challenge and difference is a lag in communication time.  For example, a discussion board post is a helpful way to share knowledge that students have as well as to let students have more time to process and assimilate  information.  Those that have a fear of speaking up in class can reflect on their response but it takes more effort to continue to engage in a discussion online as opposed to a face to face class where there is a discussion for 30 minutes, it is completed and the class moves on.  Another difference is that an online learner finds that through the process of learning they have to become more self-directed because some of the physical structures in place of showing up to a classroom and a building are taken away.

A benefit for online courses is that the student can be interfacing with the course content anywhere and at any time!  But for some it takes much more intention to set up physical boundaries of learning away from this classroom space.  It can also take more intention for the instructor as they are communicating the information.  The time to set up an online course is significant, especially in the beginning.  For students there is a learning curve when it comes to new technology.  I would say that online courses lend themselves more to using technology.  The instructor needs to rely on technology to disseminate information and gathering information from students.  This can be very frustrating at any point because when technology fails or is not reliable for a period of time, there is a feeling of lack of control for the instructor and students.  Lastly, in my personal experience, online education has allowed me the opportunity to step out of being a passive learner and embrace active learning and learning the art of being self-directed.  This has been a valuable lesson to learn in this program.   I think this occurred because I had to take more responsibility for my learning than in face to face classrooms where I would show up and listen to a lecture and after study.  Here I have learned the importance of preparing for class in order to engage in an active way with the information.

While I have had one other opportunity with online coursework, this particular program has been a refreshing challenge for me in online learning.  I would not have said that about the sociology class I took over ten years ago.  That particular online course was arduous and now I know the reason.  I did not feel like I was a part of the class.  There was a relational component missing from that course online.  One of our textbooks for this course titled “Innovative Teaching Strategies in Nursing and Related Health Professions” discusses in chapter 8 this idea:  students have a desire to feel connected with others in their classroom.  As students learn the subject, engaging with fellow students strengths the knowledge.  Since having a new perspective of online learning the last year and a half, my feelings have radically changed about online teaching and learning. I chose an online learning program initially because of the flexibility I needed in my life.  I needed to work fulltime as I embarked on a dream of mine to obtain my Master’s degree.  I did not initially choose an online program because of preferring an online learning experience.  In fact, I would have said a year and a half ago I would prefer to physically go to class.  Now I have a different opinion.  I have had the opportunity to engage in an online learning experience that has pushed me to not be a passive learner but rather an active learner.  I can tell you today that I love online learning and teaching and not because it is easier.  In some ways I think it can be more challenging.  I love online learning because it has demonstrated to me the importance of owning my learning experience.

Blog #3 – Reflection on a Lecture

In the last week I have been thinking about the myriads of lectures I have heard at CE events and the lectures presented by professors throughout my educational experience.  Honestly, most of the lectures are a blur to me today.  There was one lecture series which stands out to me.

One of the courses I took in dental hygiene school was a course discussing topics about medical emergencies, administration of local anesthetics and nitrous oxide administration.  A lecture was given on administration of nitrous oxide over a period of several class periods.  When I reflect on this lecture series the memories are vivid especially considering it happened over ten years ago.  The lecture portion of the course met in a large auditorium with a big stage and auditorium seating.  It was an older building and room that had not been updated.  The students had wooden seats that flipped down with a small table that rotated up for taking notes.  I was sitting in one of those seats along with thirty-three other classmates.  We had two professors for this course who were oral surgeons and certified in general sedation.  The lecture series began with discussing respiratory physiology and the pharmacology of nitrous oxide.  Dr. Leyman did the first part of the lecture series and he finished the lecture discussing nitrous oxide machines and the indications and purposes of using nitrous oxide.  His delivery was direct and the content was given in a logical way that was easy to follow and helpful when taking notes for the lecture.  I still have my notes from this lecture series and as I review them I can remember listening to the information presented and being drawn into the topic of respiratory physiology and pharmacology of nitrous oxide.  We were given a booklet prior to the lectures to read with questions at the end to answer. In class I added to the notes for my own clarification.

After the core content was delivered Dr. Leyman asked for a volunteer from our class.   A classmate volunteered and the next part of the lecture was a demonstration of administrating nitrous oxide.  At this point both professors, Dr. Leyman and Dr. Anderson, worked together demonstrating nitrous oxide administration and dialoguing about experiences in their careers administrating nitrous oxide to patients.  The stories they shared spoke to clinical effects they had seen in their patients and reactions to look for and hints for administering nitrous oxide.   I am drawn to a story and these stories built upon what we had learned over the last couple of lectures and helped me understand the concepts better.  Questions were encouraged by both professors throughout the lectures.

Why does this lecture series evoke a memory that is much more vivid than any other lecture?  First, I think that the way the information was presented was in a logical format that I resonated with.  I appreciated the notes that were given prior to class for us to review.  It helped me know what concepts I was not grasping so that during the lecture I could take notes to expound on these areas of weakness.  The stories that were shared made an impact on me.  It gave flesh to facts that were given.  It gave experience to a procedure I had never done before but others had done and could share it with me.  In the book “Innovative Teaching Strategies in Nursing and Related Health Professions” in chapter 10, storytelling is a method used in lecturing that when used appropriately will help a student make connections between the content and practice of the skill.  When Dr. Leyman and Dr. Anderson told their stories they asked the class questions to engage us in what we had just learned about nitrous oxide and apply it to the story.  It was another way for us to engage in the material using critical thinking and problem solving strategies.  We had to have a grasp on the course material in order to fully understand the extend of the stories shared.  The same book as mentioned previously in chapter 10 explains the importance of the lecturer being prepared for the lecture and for them to prepare students by giving an outline prior to the lecture with questions to answer so that during class there is more time to explore the topic fully.  I felt that in this lecture series I was given the expectation of what concepts I was to understand and both professors were prepared for class and understood the information in depth and could present the material directly.

The reflection of this lecture series  has given me a perspective of my responsibility as a presenter of information.  It is important that I know the material well and I am direct in my expectations for those I am presenting the information to.  Allowing for students to make connections and to use critical thinking strategies is paramount in preparing them to engage in new material.

Blog #2 – Innovation in a Classroom

As I reflect over the video about Salman Khan’s dialogue about innovative learning and chapter 4 in “Innovative Teaching Strategies in Nursing,” I am reminded that as an educator I need to strive in my planning and implementation to be deliberate.  I also need to have ways to measure my effectiveness as an instructor and the effectiveness of innovative learning in a classroom.

The reason I think being deliberate is important is that an instructor’s primary role is to be an effective communicator to students.  When an instructor looks at the course content and objectives finding a clear way to communicate key objects and concepts are critical for students in laying the foundation.  Bradshaw and Hultquist in “Innovative Teaching Strategies in Nursing” call this step assessment.  When assessment occurs the strengths and the weaknesses of the strategies are addressed.  As this occurs I the instructor have the opportunity to be selective and deliberate with what I choose to use in my method of instruction.   Measurement, evaluation and reflection of innovative strategies is paramount in determining if the process was helpful for students in understanding the objectives given prior to the task.  Just as a student has a better chance of understanding new material if they take the time to reflect over the experience I would find it critical to take the time in reflection to help determine if the innovate teaching strategy was effective.

All of this is a foundation of operation that I find valuable when considering how an innovative classroom can work.  Innovative teaching requires that I am able to be familiar with different methods in education and be able to read the classroom and students in hopes to use different strategies for different learning styles of students.  An innovative classroom is a dynamic classroom.  I believe that an innovative classroom puts more responsibility on students to actively learn and participate in learning information.  It takes preparation on my end by being well versed in different methodology and clearly delivering expectations to students.  What I find exciting about considering using different innovative strategies in learning is the hopes that students learn critical thinking and mastery of subject matter so as to make them a professional who seeks life-long-learning.  In Salman Khan’s description on how he sees benefits of using an innovative classroom he made the remark that innovative learning works best when students take the time to learn the material and work on mastery.  Students can’t expect to benefit as much from an innovative classroom when they expect to learn the information passively.

I think that different subject matter lends itself to different ways of innovation in learning.  One method that intrigues me is the Problem Based Learning (PBL) and I think it could be valuable in a number of dental hygiene education classrooms.

Finally, I think it is most important that I keep my mind open for the possibilities in education and to be in relationships with others who value innovative learning experiences and continue to strive to make the most out of a classroom for students.  Having a place to go to for troubleshooting and support would be critical in sharpening these skills.

Blog #1

In DH 7100 I am excited to learn about presentation and alternative ways to facilitate a classroom experience.  I have had the opportunity to work individually with students but have not experienced presenting information and facilitating larger groups of students as they learn new material.  In my writing, I have a tendency to be wordy.  I continue to work on being succinct yet thorough through writing but I have not worked on presenting and or facilitating material in a way that is direct, concise and clear.  My desire is that this course will act as a springboard for me to grow in this area so I feel more comfortable.   Learning innovative ways of engaging students in a classroom setting is one aspect that will be beneficial as I learn ways to facilitate a classroom of students.  Learning how to use technology appropriately such as with PowerPoint and/or other media used in presentation will also be valuable as I work on my goal of being an effective presenter and facilitator.

In March, I have the opportunity to present to first year students and the class will be a flipped classroom.  This is an active learning technique we will be learning more about in week 5!  This will be a great way to help me as I prepare for this experience with students.

The reservation I have in this course is the presentation of the PechaKucha.  While presentation is something I desire to become better at, initially it feels very scary.  I also have hesitation with peer evaluation.  I have participated in peer evaluation in other courses in this program but I still hesitate and hope that I am understanding the material well enough to evaluate a peer and give constructive, appropriate feedback.

I think this class will be a great addition to what we have learned in DH 6100.  I am ready to jump in and learn!