Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
Evidence of Mastery for Standard II Indicators
Below are the indicators that guide this ISTE standard and evidence supporting my mastery of these indicators. ISTE Coaching Standard II is built on the premises that effective learning methods:
Are technology focused which inform content mastery. Digital literacy is a 21st century skill that shapes how students access, manage, evaluate, create, and communicate content. When students are taught digital literacy, their grasp of math and science increases which is why UNESCO considers digital literacy equally as important as reading and writing. Yet use of technologies that build digital literacy are under-utilized in higher education. This presents a big teaching-learning disconnect when traditional methods do not appropriately prepare students with the tools and skills needed for the real world. Faculty’s comfort with technology is the biggest impediment to digital literacy development. A technology coach can help ease fear and build faculty’s confidence by exploring technology in a manner that builds into the educators’ motivation and self-efficacy. In this blog post, I explore this disconnect between faculty technology adoption and students’ development of digital literacy by investigating peer-modeling as a professional development solution.
Are research-based and learner-centered to meet all students needs. Learning happens differently from one learner to the next. Depending on prior knowledge, motivation to learn, mode of learning, and current skill level, information is interpreted in a variety of different ways. Educators therefore, can not rely on “one-size-fits-all” traditional learning models, such as lecture, which may only appeal to certain types of learning styles.
During the second year of this master’s program, I found myself in an interesting situation where I was asked to provide professional development at an educational conference for registered dietitians. One of the biggest challenges that I was presented with was the fact that I did not know the prior knowledge, background, skill-level, or learning style of my intended audience. While researching professional development best practices, it became clear to me that a diverse learning model would best serve my learners. I used an evidence-based approach using research that identified technology-infused professional development models. I structured my one-hour presentation entitled “Building Better Nutrition Education through Digital Collaboration Tools” by providing minimal background information in the beginning so that the audience would have enough time to explore the steps of technology implementation within small groups. To continue the work and build better understanding of the topic after the presentation, I also built an interactive online space filled with evidenced-based research, reflection spaces, and modeling of various collaboration technologies. This structure helped diversify the learning methods so that students could build on their own understanding and learning needs.
Are relevant and meaningful helping students to better prepare for the real world. Today’s real-world problems benefit from collaboration. Not only are two heads better than one but everyone’s voice is valued as hierarchy roles become less rigid and more subdued. Collaborative environments thrive when all are allowed to become “experts” by sharing experiences, thoughts, and understanding for the betterment of the group. Supporting this idea, co-learning, and co-teaching bring in expertise from teachers and students alike sparking learning that happens at an sub-conscious level. This unique model blurs the line between teacher and student because all are encouraged to learn. This sets students up for not only content mastery but also real-time problem-solving and the development of troubleshooting skills. In the blog post above, I explore how co-learning and co-teaching can be used in courses, however reflecting back about my own practice I have learned that the model can be particularly valuable asset in project-based courses where students are in control of their learning and share with the class how that learning can apply in the real world.
Are complex and challenging which promote higher level thinking skills. Building learning activities that promote higher order thinking skills leads to better learning outcomes. These activities invite student exploration because the activities are deep, complex, and require multiple inputs to complete. As a technology coach, I investigated and experimented with two models that inform higher level thinking: storytelling and computational thinking. These models helped my students grasp a deeper understanding of very complex or unfamiliar nutrition concepts.
Everyone loves a good story, storytelling helps make even the most challenging concept more relatable and memorable. In this post, I use Alan Alda’s story as an example of how storytelling helps student build motivation and a sense of importance to an issue. Because stories stir emotional responses, they are memorable. When I first experimented with storytelling, I used this creative concept to create a fairytale explaining the complex task of energy metabolism (oxidative phosphorylation). I start my story (accompanied by powerpoint animations) with a glucose molecule (aptly named GLU) that discovers his own inner power when he suddenly enters an enchanted house (insulin-dependent cells) using a secret key (insulin) he found on the doorstep. This simple act sets GLU into a vast microcosm where he ultimately transforms into an enlightened being (ATP). I then challenged my students to fill in the details of the story. In order for the students to do this, they first needed to break apart the process of metabolism and understand the details. While the resulting stories were very entertaining and somewhat nonsensical, students were better able to explain the metabolic cycle compared to previous classes because of the experience.
Similarly, building computational thinking allows students understand how the parts of a concept help to inform the whole. In other words, without proper investigation of the smaller details, an entire concept cannot be fully understood. My research course is a good vehicle for this model because the course itself presents several challenges to students who have never conducted research before. One of their main tasks is to describe the procedure for developing a food product in a formulaic, scientific manner. They struggle with this because they are used to thinking of food procedure as recipes or narratives. In order to help students explore computational thinking, I challenge them to write the procedure for creating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the understanding that they will need to explain this procedure to me as I am attempting to build a sandwich in real time. After some time to consult with their classmates, students attempt step-by-step instructions on how to create this sandwich. A few seconds into the exercise, they soon realize they’ve left out some steps after watching me struggle with a lid, packaging, or missing utensils. The effects of this simple activity is immense, students historically submit assignments where computational thinking is apparent.
Are individualized to each learner. This indicator standard challenged my notions of a content-intensive classroom. Originally, I had thought that if I didn’t cover a topic in my lecture then my students would not learn that topic. It was difficult for me to trust that when given choice, the students would grasp the concepts on their own. Upon further investigation of this ISTE indicator, I began exploring explicit instruction which involves modeling and allowing students to practice skills/concepts collaboratively or on their own. This was my baby-step into differentiated learning. At the end of my exploration my students experienced higher level of engagement along with better comprehension.
In year two of the masters program, I gained the confidence (informed through evidence-based practice) to further explore with differentiation learning by developing a project-based class that gave student choice to control their own learning. In this project, students were tasked to create a website as a learning portfolio for the course. Though specific parameters were provided, student were first unsure of the creative and academic freedom that they were granted and asked a lot of questions. Midway through the class, they began to see the value of this model as they investigated topics that were important to them. Students became very heavily engaged with their learning websites and spent significant amounts of time into curating content and showcasing that content in a very professional manner.
Are research-based. As a registered dietitian, I understand the importance of using evidence-based practices. Not only do these practices ensure that the most effective procedures are conducted but also that practitioners honor their patient/clients by using only the best, most trustworthy information. The idea is similar in education, both instructors and technology coaches strive to provide teaching and learning opportunities in the best, most effective methods. During the first year of the masters program, we were tasked to take one of our existing lesson plans (or develop a new one) and implement an evidence-based model, called the “backwards design” from Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design text. The model systematically explores lesson plan development that focuses on activities to form key skills and understanding directly related to learning outcomes. For this project, rather than focusing on one lesson, I redesign my research class focus less on content, instead focusing more on the learning outcomes of designing, implementing, analyzing, and reporting on an experimental food. In short, the new class structure provided better scaffolding and skills practice so that students could meet the learning outcomes. I took out unnecessary lecture topics and re-purposed or created assignments. I learned how to organize the course so that students received scaffolded information in relation to necessary steps and skills needed to continue their research project. I piloted this new design last year and experience better research outcomes and better class experience feedback from the students.
Are feedback driven allowing students to feel comfortable making mistakes and learning from them. One of the most impactful lessons I took from this ISTE standard is the idea of formative feedback. Formative feedback is a low-stakes opportunity for an instructor to evaluate student’s learning during the learning process. In this post on feedback loops, I gained insight into how formative feedback can be used build better learning outcomes as students are encouraged to make mistakes and try new methods. I’ve implemented formative feedback elements in almost all of my classes and it has proven to been a powerful tool that has helpful students not only improve their work but also remove the fear of “getting the wrong answer.”
Are continually assessing learning outcomes to continually improve the teaching-learning dynamic. Related to ISTE coaching standard indicator 2G, feedback is not only useful for students, it can also be useful for educators. To improve the teaching-learning dynamic, educators can gather data from their students to inform how well certain methods were received and how effective the methods were on learning. In this blog post, I explore this data collection by using quantified rubric data to evaluate student learning trends which can help improve teaching and learning outcomes.