Journal Entries on Educational Practices


Table of Contents

  • Can the teacher see his or her impact on students’ learning? (Oct 11/14)
  • Essential Questions (Oct 11/14)
  • Professional Practice (Oct 5/14)
  • Think Again – A Student Engagement Technique (Power Point) (Sept 23/14)
  • Creating a Positive Learning Environment (Sept 2014)
  • Effective Learning Environments (Sept 2014)
  • Are Learning Styles a Myth? (Sept 10/14)The Power of Introverts (Sept 2014)
  • Achieving Student Engagement (Sept 2014)
  • Documented Problem Solutions – a Classroom Assessment Technique (Power Point) (July 2014)
  • Bonus Marks (July 2014)
  • Reflections on Dynamic, Peer and Self-Assessment (July 2014)
  • The Importance of Alignment (June 2014)
  • Assessment for Learning vs.  Assessment of Learning (June 2014)
  • Evaluating the Adult Learner (June 2014)
  • Flippable Classroom/Inverted Classroom (March 2014)                                                                                                                                            Cons of the Flippable Classroom
  • Web Conferences & their effect on work life in Fraser Health (Feb 2014)
  • Role of the Adult Educator-What Does an Educator Do Anyways? (Feb 2014)
  • Current or Emerging Trends (Jan 2014)
  • Hello fellow classmates (Jan 2014)

Oct 11/14

Can the teacher see his or her impact on students’ learning?

The following 2 quotes were retrieved from:

Teachers Matter:  Understanding Teachers Impact on Student Achievement

Effective teachers are best identified by their performance, not by their background or experience.

Despite common perceptions, effective teachers cannot reliably be identified based on where they went to school, whether they’re licensed, or (after the first few years) how long they’ve taught. The best way to assess teachers’ effectiveness is to look at their on-the-job performance, including what they do in the classroom and how much progress their students make on achievement tests. This has led to more policies that require evaluating teachers’ on-the-job performance, based in part on evidence about their students’ learning.

Teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling.

Many factors contribute to a student’s academic performance, including individual characteristics and family and neighborhood experiences. But research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most. When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership.


Another section of this web site is:

Tests and the Teacher: What Student Achievement Tests Do—and Don’t—Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness

We all expect teachers to help students learn reading, math, and other academic subjects. But we also expect them to do more. For example, we trust them to teach students to think and reason, to help students learn to work cooperatively with each other, to instill good study habits, to keep students safe, and to foster healthy bodies and minds. Students’ scores on achievement tests tell us something—but by no means everything—about how well teachers are meeting these expectations.

We should go beyond test scores to evaluate a teacher’s full contribution.

For a better understanding of teacher effectiveness, we need to combine information from tests with other measures, such as classroom observations and input from supervisors and peers. Looking at many aspects of a teacher’s contribution gives us the best chance to understand it fully.

Oct 11/14

Essential Questions

  1. Is open-ended, typically it will not have a single, final, and correct answer.
  2. Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate?
  3. Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction.  It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.
  4. Points toward important, transferable ideas within disciplines
  5. Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.
  6. Requires support and justification, not just an answer.
  7. Recurs over time, that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.

McTighe & Wiggins (2013) states that “Questions that meet all or most of the above criteria qualify as essential.  The reasons we ask these question is to stimulate thought, provide inquiry and spark more questions, including thoughtful student questions, not just pat answers”.

Writing Essential Questions

Asking Better Questions

Oct 5/14

My Understanding of Professional Practice in Education/Teaching


“A common definition of professional practice or professionalism is a decision to acquire and exude knowledge and skills in a chosen field. Knowledge and skills in professional practice are reinforced by other attributes including: accountability, workplace etiquette, communication, performance excellence, leadership and respect”. (University of Alberta. 2014, October)


Professional Practice, to me, is how I manage the knowledge and skills that I have developed around the profession of nursing. As stated above, it encompasses my responsibilities in the various aspects of my work & my work environment. Professional Practice cannot be thought of as a separate entity from my job as a nurse.

Professional Practice as an educator has the same definition; as with nursing, it encompasses a responsibility to study and incorporate certain knowledge, skills & techniques into my role and practice as an educator.

As a professional I am held accountable for my actions and there are work place policies in place that govern a variety of topics including etiquette expectations such as dress code, language, relationships, continuing education etc. It is my responsibility to develop and use clear communication skills, to be respectful to myself as well as others. I am accountable to provide an excellent level of care, to the best of my ability, as set out by the Fraser Health mission statement:

Working to improve the health of the population and the quality of life of the people we serve”.

(Fraser Health Authority. 2014. October)

In our office we have a “Respectful Workplace” policy that is presented to all staff and used to help resolve difficult situations.

Each role (front line staff, educators, team leaders, managers, directors etc.) must abide by the same rules. The role you are in may change but your professional responsibilities do not.

Self-Reflection, as I am doing now, is an integral part of Professional Practice because it is how I can evaluate the ‘who, what, when, where & why’ of my actions.

“Reflective practice is, in its simplest form, thinking about or reflecting on what you do. It is closely linked to the concept of learning from experience, in that you think about what you did, and what happened, and decide from that what you would do differently next time”. (Skills You Need. October,2014).


I admit that I do not think of the term Professional Practice when I am at work and deciding what to do in any given situation but I instinctively know that it is my responsibility to be aware of my professional practice and to ensure that I develop it appropriately. I and I alone am responsible for my actions, my education, my ongoing development as a nurse and as an educator; because I teach nursing staff, I cannot separate the professional practice of the two roles.

Education, Education, Education                                                                         Practice, Practice, Practice                                                                                        Reflect, Reflect, Reflect                                                                                             Improve, Improve, Improve                                                                                            Repeat

 In the various roles I have held as a nurse as well as the various roles I have been in as an educator, I must be aware of Best Practices or Evidence Based Practice in order to do my job effectively and responsibly. In education I must maintain my knowledge of the information I am teaching, I must be up to date on educational practices, techniques and theories.   I must continue to seek out opportunities to maintain and/or improve my skills.

 Professional knowledge and skills will vary in each profession we choose to be involved in but the overall standards of Professional Practice stay the same.


I have always striven to be the best at what I do and will continue to do so; it is in my nature. The knowledge that I am gaining through the PIDP courses is helping to shape my views and opinions on many matters around Professional Practice in Education. I plan to continue to use every opportunity to gain knowledge, practice my skills, reflect on what I have done and strive to continually improve.


 Fraser Health. (2014. October). Retrieved from:

Skills You Need. (2014. October). Reflective Practice. Retrieved from:

University of Alberta. Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. (2014. October).  Professional  Practice. Retrieved from:                                                                              

Sept 22/14

Think Again! – A Classroom Assessment Technique

You Tube address for Power Point Presentation

Written format of presentation

Student Engagement Technique: Think Again!

“The best environment for learning is one that forces students to work through a succession of wrong answers and predispositions until they get to real learning”. (Miller. 2013. p. 1)


The Student engagement technique ‘Think Again’ engages and challenges students through the use of common misconceptions, misinterpretations or misunderstandings and uses dialogue amongst the learners in order to promote students in active learning. Students must listen, analyze & synthesize information and determine if a given statement is true and then prove why it is not.

First, you as the instructor create a statement related to course content that is not true. Once the statement has been presented to the students ask them to agree or disagree, once all students have weighed in their answer advise them that the statement is incorrect. Next partner students and have them prove why the statement is incorrect.

Role of the Educator:

  • Establish supportive relationships with students.
  • Prepare your statement ahead of class time ensuring it reflects course content and goals.
  • Be prepared with information to disprove the validity of the statement.
  • Provide clear instructions and encourage students by reminding them that it takes practice to become competent and comfortable in the use any new technique.
  • Ensure that the students understand the relationship between the activity and their own learning goals.
  • Ensure that the statement presented builds on course content already covered to allow for ‘Active Transfer’ and the building of ‘Associations’.
  • Participate in discussion
  • Be open to listening to statements made by students and promote positive discussions to reflect on their validity.

Role of the Student:

  • Be willing to actively participate in the discussions.
  • Allow everyone equal “talking time” during the activity
  • Allow others to finish what they are saying prior to initiating your own comments.
  • Be willing to listen and contemplate another person’s perspective on a subject.
  • Respect each person’s viewpoint.
  • Be up to date on course work in order to knowledgeably participate in discussions.
  • Be willing to share your perspectives even if you are not sure they are accurate or correct.

Best Practices:

  • Ensure the statements reflect the level of learning of the students in relation to course content.
  • Incorporate clear and adequate time into the lesson plan to allow for in-depth discussions to develop.
  • Prepare the statement on a presentation slide or overhead transparency if used in a classroom setting to allow students to refer back to the statement as needed.
  • Ensure easy access to the original statement in order to maintain focus on the conversation.
  • Use smaller groups of 2-4 students in order to allow all students the ability to participate in the discussion.
  • Incorporate feedback

Pros for using this strategy:

Develops the skill of discussing ideas or topics that are not clear

  • Provides an increased sense of control for the learner
  • Promotes motivation through autonomy (self-determination), competence (developing and exercising skills), and relatedness (social relationships).
  • Allows for absorption of ideas, concepts or dilemmas into the learners own understanding.

Cons for using this strategy:

  • Conversations that are not properly brought to a point of closure can leave students confused on the reasons for the statement being untrue.
  • Some learners may monopolize the conversations.
  • Some learners may be unwilling to ‘bend’ their viewpoint.
  • Some learners may not be current in the learning or studies and unable to provide feedback at an appropriate/challenging level to all students.

Where and How Would I use this strategy?      

  • In facilitating a class on Interprofessional Collaboration, this technique could be used to discuss myths about what the roles of different health care professionals are to ensure efficiencies within the team.
  • In education around Adult Guardianship cases, this technique could be used to foster conversations around incorrect practices.
  • ‘Team Building’ exercises, this technique could be used to assist staff to understand why something is not beneficial to the team as a whole.
  • ‘Determining Competency’, this technique could be used to strengthen understanding of assessment strategies and strategies to enable the personal to maintain the independence in a safe environment.


This student engagement technique is an excellent way to promote active learning through the use of common misconceptions, misinterpretations or misunderstandings; it uses dialogue to promote analysis and synthesis of information as the students strive to determine the validity of a statement.


Barkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques, A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Bushe, G.R. (2011). Appreciative inquiry: Theory and critique.  In Boje, D., Burnes, B. and  Hassard, J. (eds). The Routeledge Companion to Organizational Change. (p. 87 – 103).    Oxford: UK: Routeledge.

Miller, D.L. (2013). Got it wrong? Think again and again. Retrieved from:


Sept 21/14

Creating a Positive Learning Environment for Adults

Ballou, J. (2011). Creating a Positive Learning Environment for Adults. Bright Hub The Hub for Bright Minds. Retrieved from:

written by: James Ballou•edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi•updated: 7/11/2011

The key requirements for creating a positive learning environment do not come readily packaged. Instead they require an astute grasp of the differences between androgogy and pedagogy. Instructors can then implement the concepts to keep students motivated and engaged in the learning process.

  • slide 1 of 5


    Positive learning environments can be assembled with the right tools A positive learning environment never happens by accident – it is the direct result of actions taken by instructors who understand adult learners. Hallmarks of a positive learning environment are trust, open communication and shared learning experiences. Instructors who maintain the positive nature of the environment make use of the existing knowledge and skill of their students. Fundamental aspects of the environment include:

    • A recognition of the differences between androgogy and pedagogy
    • A deep understand of how the adult student functions in the classroom
    • A willingness and commitment to communicate with adult students in a way that fosters open exchanges
  • slide 2 of 5

    Androgogy and Pedagogy

    When children begin attending school they don’t know much. It makes sense for them to learn from someone who has vastly more knowledge and intellect than they possess. The education model used in this scenario is called pedagogy. The Greek translation refers to a literal process of “leading the child.” The pedagogy model places the instructor at the center of the figurative learning environment and all knowledge comes from the teacher.Instructors employ androgogy and students’ sxisting knowledge to grasp new concepts

    Teaching adults requires a completely different approach. Effective adult education or androgogy employs a model that incorporates the tremendous knowledge and experience that adults bring to the classroom and uses it to facilitate the learning process of all the students. Androgogy is a dramatically more collaborative approach that incorporates the points of view, knowledge and experience of all members of the classroom. Androgogy places the student at the figurative center of the learning environment and relies on the instructor to function as a facilitator who helps students to attach new concepts to their existing understanding. Instructors do this by leading discussions, assigning projects that weave experience together with new information and by helping students draw analogies to events or information in their lives with the information being taught.

  • slide 3 of 5

    Adult Learning Approaches

    Positive learning environments are maintained by respectfully correcting mistakes When instructors view common classroom events through the prism of adult learning theory they gain a different perspective on creating a positive learning environment. For example students that make mistakes in the pedagogical learning model are often reproved, corrected and told what to do. Such a response with adult learners is counterproductive. Instructors help adult students identify their own mistakes and facilitate improved understanding and performance. Some basic guidelines that instructors should follow to create and maintain a positive learning environment include:

    • Treat students as adults and recognize their existing skill and experience
    • Set clear and meaningful expectations for adult students
    • Avoid creating an environment that results in hostility
    • Address errors privately and respectfully
  • slide 4 of 5

    Maintaining a Positive Environment

    One of the most important elements for instructors to remember is the need to treat adult learners as adults. Unlike children, adults are unaccustomed to feeling helpless. When key information about the layout of the class, the expectations of the instructor, or other germane information is withheld the adult student will often feel helpless. This is a dangerous mistake because it can cause conflict or withdrawal. Instructors should be conscious of this factor and work to avoid such circumstances by creating an environment of clear expectations, open dialogue, and professional feedback.Maintaining a positive learning environment requires the implementation of a number of important tools

    Instructors should provide feedback to adults with sensitivity and aplomb. Feedback should be clear and actionable and it must be delivered privately. Public criticism of an adult learner is viewed as disrespectful and hostile and often results in a breakdown in communication. These facts do not absolve an instructor of his/her responsibility to make sure that students understand mistakes they have made. Instructors can inform students of mistakes and help maintain a positive environment by providing feedback to the student in a private forum.

  • slide 5 of 5

    Accentuate the Androgogy

    Careful examination of the needs of an adult learner provides an important set of guidelines to all instructors. These guidelines are central to maintaining a positive learning environment and to maintaining communication. Instructors should recognize these guidelines as not only restrictions to behavior but powerful allies in improving performance. Leveraging the powerful features of androgogy will improve class interaction and maintain a positive learning environment

    Ballou, J. (2011). Creating a Positive Learning Environment for Adults. Bright Hub The Hub for Bright Minds. Retrieved from:

    Sept 21/14

    Effective Learning Environments

    Creating an Effective Adult Learning Environment
    by Susan Imel

    Support for adult learners is provided through a learning environment that meets both their physical and psychological needs. Such a learning environment is also an essential element in successful partnerships between learners and instructors. Developing an atmosphere in which adults feel both safe and challenged should be the goal. Any anxieties learners might have about appearing foolish or exposing themselves to failure should be eased, but they should not feel so safe that they do not question their current assumptions or are not challenged in other ways. Instructors need to balance being friendly with challenging learners. An ideal adult learning climate has a non-threatening, non-judgmental atmosphere in which adults have permission for and are expected to share in the responsibility for their learning.

    Suggestions for creating a learning environment that fosters a sense of support for and partnership with adults include the following:

    Capitalize on the first session.
    First impressions are frequently lasting ones. The first session should create the foundation for a healthy learning partnership and set the tone for the balance of the program. Consider informal furniture arrangements with chairs in a circle or around a table and allow time for introductions, including information about the instructor. Even if the first session is devoted to needs assessment and discussing learner expectations for the course, provide written information about the course. Assignments should be discussed at the outset with the promise of a complete syllabus (incorporating learner input) at the next session.

    Incorporate group work.
    Well-designed group work can contribute to the development of a collaborative, participatory learning environment in which the instructor is perceived as a partner. Small group activities foster the development of positive peer relationships among learners, which frequently have a much greater influence on learning than teacher-learner relationships. Informal, spontaneous groups can be used for short-term activities such as brainstorming; groups can also be formed around ongoing projects. Formal, ongoing groups often result in stronger affiliation among members of the small group; than among members of the whole class.

    Break the traditional classroom routine.
    Deviating from the conventional practices associated with classrooms can help create an effective adult learning environment. A potluck or snacks during a class break can create opportunities for interaction and break down barriers between instructors and learners. For classes that meet more than six times, varying the meeting place can help add interest. Before changing the class meeting location, however, all participants should be consulted to ensure the change does not conflict with any existing arrangements for transportation and childcare.

    Use humour.
    Humour, which must be incorporated into regular classroom activities, can free creative capacities by providing novelty and helping learners break out of ruts. Humour can also help learners see the “human” side of the instructor. For example, by laughing at their own mistakes, instructors can help learners understand that errors are a normal part of the learning process. It goes without saying that instructors should never resort to sarcasm or ridicule for then humour becomes destructive. Properly used, however, humour can assist in building relationships between and among learners.

    Support opportunities for individual problem solving.
    Adults have many responsibilities besides that of learner and consequently may feel a sense of isolation in their student role. If appropriate, instructors can encourage the formation of study groups (another opportunity for group work) to link those learners who may wish this type of support. In addition, instructors should always be available for individual conferences.

    Providing Equal Opportunity

    A corollary of creating an effective learning environment is providing an equitable learning environment. Many adults—especially women, the elderly, the less affluent, members of minority communities, persons with disabilities, and the educationally disadvantaged–have not experienced support or equality in the learning environment. As a result, they have frequently felt disconnected and disengaged from the formal learning task. Engaging all learners as partners in the learning process requires that instructors do the following:

    • Consider their attitudes toward and knowledge about the variety of people they teach. Their expectations, behaviour, and language may say something about the way they perceive people in general and the learners in particular. For example, do they respond differently to men than to women, to younger students than to older adults? Instructors have a professional responsibility to accept every adult learner as of equal worth regardless of race, gender, ability, or background.
    • Think through the way they present their subjects or topics. The examples and images used should reflect and acknowledge the diversity of learners and their experiences. Engaging learners in the process of extending beyond stereotypical or narrow examples can be another means of developing partnerships.
    • Analyze their expectations for the potential of learners to ensure that they are not based on an individual’s membership in a particular community. Instructors must act on the belief that change and development are possible for all people and that their role is to assist the process in all learners.


    According to Rogers, “Learning is part of a circuit that is one of life’s fundamental pleasures: the [instructor’s] role is to keep the current flowing”. Instructors who have successfully engaged adults as partners by providing direction and support will have succeeded admirably



    Sept 10/14

    Are Learning Styles a Myth?

    Re: Are learning styles a myth?
    by Brenda Volkmann – Wednesday, 10 September 2014, 9:16 PM

    When I first read this topic, my first thought was what’s the difference between a learning style and a learning theory?  A Learning style is a group of common ways that people learn (visual, physical, logical, verbal, oral).  A Learning Theory describes “how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed, and knowledge and skills retained” (Wikepedia. 2014).  So is a learning style how we take in the information and a learning theory is what we do with it???  Are learning styles closely connected with learning theories?  The process of learning is so complex that it makes sense to me that they both work together to complete the complicated task of learning: absorbing & understanding.

    Personally I have always thought of myself as a multistyle learner, I like to see, hear & do when I am learning.  I talk out loud to my self when I read as well as highlight important information, and when I am learning a new skill I have to actually practice it in a hands on manner or else I won’t absorb it.  In nursing we often give and get report at shift change or when we hand over the responsibility for a task or patient to the next person, I write notes or else it was gone from my memory.

    I read the article stating that Learning Styles are more myth than fact & maybe this concept has been ingrained into my head over the years but I do see different people preferring to learn in different ways


Sept 2014

The Power of Introverts

TED Talk:  Susan Cain

The Uniqueness of Introverts Living Among Us


There are introverts living among us and that is a good thing!

“Introversion is at its root a type of temperament. It is not the same as shyness or having a withdrawn personality, and it is not pathological. It is also not something you can change. But you can learn to work with it, not against it”. Laney. 2002 p. 19)


Introverts are people who “draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions, and impressions. They are energy conservers”. (Laney. 2002. p. 19)


I love this topic!

I am a classic introvert, I didn’t always know this, but I wish I had. In my younger years and even today I find it overwhelming living in an extrovert world. I was and still sometimes am jealous of people who can be the life of the party, who can ‘work a crowd’ and enjoy being surrounded by, what is in my opinion, way too many people. I use to think there was something wrong with me, now I know I am normal. Now I understand why I live in a more rural setting and find going into the big city of Vancouver an overwhelming task.

As an adult I discovered that I am an introvert and all the pieces of my insecurities started to vanish as I realized that it was OK to be who I am. When I first read the book The Introvert Advantage, How to Survive in an Extrovert World several years ago, I found myself saying over and over again, that’s me!. I have become very sensitive to people around me who are introverts as well and I will go out of my way to make them feel comfortable in whatever setting we find ourselves in.

Situations that have been uncomfortable for me include ‘mix & mingles’, large social gatherings with no set agenda, places where I need to speak out loud and express my personal thoughts to a large group, having to express my opinions before having time to figure out exactly what they are, sitting in a room full of people I don’t know, conversations with people who think that their opinion is the only correct one…I can list many more.

“Our culture values and rewards the qualities of extroverts. America was built on rugged individualism and the importance of citizens speaking their minds. We value action, speed, competition, and drive”. (Laney. 2002. p. 5)

I have noticed that in our society we value the extrovert characteristics, you know, those people who are outgoing, social (lots of friends), talkative, animated, assertive, expressive, easily distracted, people who thrive on large social situations 24/7.   These people can exhaust me in no time at all. 75% of the world population is extroverted.

The introvert personality tends to be private (keeping to themselves), quiet, deliberate, independent, enjoys solitude, thinks before speaking, enjoys smaller groups and is energized by time spent alone. This describes me so accurately it is scary.

When I was growing up, there were 3 extroverts and 2 introverts in our home, we learned to dance with each other (figuratively speaking), it wasn’t always smooth but we managed. As I got older and moved out into the world I found myself on the outside of the ‘popular’ social groups because of my ‘shyness’, I envied the popular girls who had somewhere to go every night. As I got older and started attempting my hand at public speaking I was terrified but soon learned that if I over prepared myself, practiced a few too many times and used a topic I was very familiar with, I could succeed. \unfortunately I have never been able to control the blushing redness that accompanies public speaking. Now, in this life, I have an extrovert husband and 2 children, 1 is an introvert and the other an extrovert. The dance continues… I feel that as a mother my responsibility is to help them to be comfortable with who they are and to help them to learn ways to succeed using their own inner strengths. In education, as in my home life, no matter what role I play, educator or learner, I need to be comfortable within myself in order to do my very best and to be able to help others succeed in a fashion that is comfortable for them. I am always very aware of those quiet people around me and have a tendency to gravitate towards them because I understand what they are feeling.


Quiet people are often found to have profound insights.

The shallow water in a brook or river runs fast: The deep water seems calmer.

James Rogers

Introverts think & respond to situations differently than extroverts. The introvert wants to know as much as possible about a subject before voicing opinions or suggestions. Introverts draw their strength and energy from within themselves; being an introvert does not mean that you are shy or withdrawn. The introvert is easily overwhelmed by an extrovert world; its loudness and busyness are emotionally and physically draining. Introverts need to protect themselves from overstimulation, but they also need to ensure that they are still a part of society, classrooms, groups, social circles etc. or they have the potential to disappear into themselves.

Another characteristic of the introvert temperament is in the way knowledge and experiences are gathered; introverts like to limit their stimuli to more in-depth sources whereas extroverts thrive on a wide variety of sources.

So, is being an introvert a disadvantage when you are an instructor in front of a large group of people? Can an introvert successfully navigate the social requirements that society expects? Can an introvert comfortably participate in classroom activities when the extroverts seem to be doing most of the talking? YES – I think we can – we just have to do it on our terms; I also think that as instructors we have the responsibility to ensure there are ample opportunities for introverts to participate in classroom activities alongside the extroverts; both have valuable information, insights, experiences and interpretations of those experiences that enhance the classroom and learning experiences. Lesson plans, Classroom Assessment Techniques & Student Engagement Techniques must be carefully chosen to allow all personality types to be comfortable in participating. I also believe that it is the responsibility of the learner to approach the instructor to let him/her know if they are uncomfortable in a given situation; education is a two way street involving give and take and if the learner does not communicate back to the instructor how will he/she know how to manage their classrooms successfully.

It seems that one of the key coping mechanisms for the introvert is to spend time refueling or regrouping in order to rebuild their energy levels; introverts need to have regular ‘me time’. I have heard introverts likened to rechargeable batteries, they work fine when fully charged but need to be regularly placed in the charger to rebuild and store energy.

Another way for introverts to cope is to build their confidence. A description of confidence in our society often mimics the characteristics of an extrovert; confidence is achieved when you feel secure within yourself even in situations you do not feel good at or comfortable in. Confidence is achieved when we take the attitude that we can learn whatever we ‘need’ to learn or do whatever we ‘need’ to do in order to achieve our goals. The key word here is ‘need’, we don’t ‘need’ to do things just because someone else thinks that we should, we don’t ‘need’ to do something in a certain way just because that’s how someone else does it. Instructors need to be aware of the special characteristics of the introverts and draw out their wisdom and skills in ways that are comfortable for them.

Introverts need to relax! Many social or group activities are anxiety provoking to the introvert and this slows their (everyone’s) brains ability to work efficiently. Introverts would spend their time well if they can learn techniques to help them to relax; there are many techniques out there and each introvert must find the one(s) that works best for them.

I have known some introvert people that want to get into public speaking or improve their confidence in their ability to get up in front of a crowd and talk coherently and skillfully. Many have joined the ‘Toast Masters’ groups around the Lower Mainland here in Beautiful British Columbia, Canada; the support, advice, practice and confidence that is available through this group is amazing and my acquaintances have had great success in improving their public speaking skills.

The above coping strategies are only a few on a multitude of possibilities but I think they represent a good starting point. Each introvert needs to discover their own ways to help themselves cope in an extrovert world and be confident and happy within themselves.

In an extrovert world that values extrovert characteristics we make overlook the great qualities of introverts. That’s too bad because both temperaments can work together to form great group dynamics, they can work together to have deeper conversations and relationships. Below are a few of the advantages of being an introvert.

What are the advantages of being an introvert?

  1. We think before we speak
  2. We are capable of deep concentration and reflection
  3. We are comfortable being on our own
  4. Our relationships tend to be deeper
  5. We are skilled at having in-depth and insightful conversations
  6. We are very focused workers
  7. We are good at setting priorities
  8. We are good listeners
  9. We tend to be more private and good at keeping secrets
  10. We don’t need fast paced visuals or activies to maintain attention or concentration


The bottom line is that I/we, as introverts, need to learn to accept and appreciate ourselves for who we are and be comfortable within our own skin. We need to realize our value in our society, that there is nothing wrong with our introvert temperaments.

As instructors we need to identify classroom activities that will enable the introvert to participate comfortably in classroom activities, we need to ensure that they are incorporated into our lesson plans along with the many other student engagement techniques that are available for us to use. Below is a beginning list of some activities that can bring the introvert to a comfortable place within themselves in order to engage in active learning within the classroom. These are techniques that I plan to incorporate into my lesson plans.

Activities for Introverts

  1. Start the class with a quick exercise to help everyone relax: deep breathing, gentle stretching, partnering with someone and answer some “getting to know you” questions,
  2. Story. Tell a quick and engaging story that leads directly into the material (Lesson Hook) that helps everyone relax
  3. Analogy. Offer an interesting analogy that touches students’ lives (Lesson Hook)
  4. Pre-reading to form thoughts and opinions prior to discussions and classroom activities
  5. Using the ‘Flipped Classroom’ strategy to engage in deeper levels of learning and understanding
  6. Small Group Discussions – actively seek out participation from all members of the group – allow time for the introverts in the group to formulate thoughts and opinions
  7. Group activities throughout the class time to allow for independent work time
  8. Create an online community through Moodle or blogs etc.
  9. ‘Think Aloud Pair Problem Solving’ (Student Engagement Technique)
  10. ‘Insights Resources Application’ (Student Engagement Technique)
  11. Learning Logs/Journals (Student Engagement Technique)

Survival Techniques for Introvert Instructors:

  1. Deep breathing to relax prior to classroom time
  2. Stretch yourself out into a large shape ie: hands up in the air, shoulders back, stand tall etc. to give yourself the illusion of being bigger than you really are (neuroscience)
  3. Choose activities that allow you a break from speaking in front of the class for long periods of time
  4. Choose activies where students “teach” some of the lesson plan content
  5. Utilize online activities such as discussion forums
  6. Be well prepared/prepped prior to class – practice your lessons in front of the mirror
  7. Be ready – give yourself lots of time, arrive early and set up your classroom to avoid anxiety
  8. Utilize laughter in the classroom to ‘lighten the mood’
  9. Don’t overload yourself with activities or work
  10. Celebrate your wonderful uniqueness!

Having an awareness of the complex dynamics of learning, personalities, culture, social structures etc. is a beginning to understanding the complexities of the classroom. I for one am very thankful for the knowledge I have on this subject and plan to utilize activities and techniques in order to engage all of the students in my classrooms, whether the classrooms are physical or virtual, large or small, no matter what the makeup of the participants are, I plan to be aware of multiple methods of engaging each and every student who is relying on me to be an educated and skillful instructor.


Susan Cain. (2014). The Power of the Introvert. Retrieved from:


Laney, Marti O. (2002). The Introvert Advantage, How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.

Workman Publishing Company: New York.


My Personality. (2014). Retrieved from:   types/extraverted-introverted/


Sept 13, 2014

Achieving Student Engagement


According to Barkley, the National Survey on Student Engagement defines “engagement as the frequency with which students participate in activities that represent effective educational practices, and conceive of it as a pattern of involvement in a variety of activities and interactions both in and out of the classroom and throughout a student’s college career”. (Barkley. 2010 p. 4)


Recently I was talking with a colleague who has been instructing for 2-3 years now, I asked her how it was going, was she enjoying her new position? Her answer was disheartening because she was not enthusiastic about her role in educating staff; she was frustrated and felt hopeless at making a difference with her teaching. I asked her what was the difficulty and she said that it was all of the people that were not interested in engaging in the lessons, the people that were negative and constantly complaining, the people that lacked motivation and were not interested in active learning; apparently these people far outweighed the positive, motivated, excited and engaged participants in her classroom.

I also have felt the feelings of not being interested in a presentation for many reasons including poor delivery of material, excessive use of Power Point (and reading it line for line), monotone speaking, being overwhelmed with the fast pace of presentation, lack of classroom participation, being required to sit for long periods of time, no windows in the room…this list goes on & on.

I have also had the pleasure of being in classroom settings where it was almost impossible to not get involved, to not enjoy the lessons, to not get excited about changing what I know & understand through the attainment of deep cognitive thought processes. Lessons where the instructor managed to get great discussions going between participants in the class; where higher level cognitive thinking and problem solving were encouraged & practiced, where transformative learning was the norm.

I want to enjoy a productive teaching career in the classroom as well as in my work environment, but also at home where I have 2 young teenagers. My young charges need guidance to ‘learn how to learn’ & become motivated and excited about the opportunities to learn that will be available to them throughout their lifetimes. I want to understand more of what motivates people, to be involved, to enter into active learning, to become engaged and do their best at whatever it is that they do.

I am also involved in a team in Fraser Health appropriately named the “Engagement Radicals”, this is a team of people from all over Fraser Health, across disciplines and work settings. Our goal is to get people engaged in their work place, to care. Another goal is to promote recognition & a sense that management is listening to their hopes, dreams, goals, concerns & ideas etc.; this is another area where motivation is essential to participation. How can we get people excited and motivated to make changes, to learn new ways of thinking and acting in order to create a better work place?

Who is responsible for learners being motivated and engaged?   Is it the instructor, the learner, the people developing the curriculum, the employer or maybe it’s a combination of them all? What is needed to get learners engaged in their learning?

Let’s try to figure this out.


So what is student engagement and why is it so important to deeper learning?

“In education, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education”.(The Education Sept 2014).

Learning is multifaceted, it occurs in the cognitive (thinking), affective (emotional) & psychomotor (physical) domains, it occurs at multiple levels of brain functioning and causes structural (neurophysical) changes to the brain itself as neural pathways are developed, reinforced and removed. Learning is complicated, it requires multiple areas of the brain to work together synergistically in order for the process of learning to occur. Memories and previous experiences affect how & what we learn by building on previous experiences (Constructivism). Emotions pertaining to learning can be inspiring or cause fear & anxiety; endorphins released by the brain when we are content & happy make us feel good and stimulate the frontal or higher thinking areas of the brain.

In order to achieve student engagement and transformative learning, multiple tactics must be utilized in creative ways. The instructor must be knowledgeable in best practices techniques that help build settings and situations that promote engagement and transformation.

All of this information is great in understanding what student engagement is, but how to we achieve it?

Student Empowerment:

One way is through student empowerment. “When students have the power to make decisions regarding their own learning, they can take steps to ensure they are working in their optimal challenge zone”. (Barkley. 2010. p. 31). When someone takes control of their own learning they are more interested & involved, they are more likely to set goals and evaluate if they have reached them. Through student empowerment, learners can determine their desired level of learning, to determine their own ‘optimal challenge zone’. They can challenge themselves by choosing the level of their participation in classroom discussions and activities. Traditionally instructors have stood at the front of the classroom and talked ‘to’ the students instead of requiring them to actively participate in classroom activities & discussions; instructors have told the students what they need to learn instead of allowing them to choose the direction that they would like their learning to take.   There has been a paradigm shift in recent years in the thinking of how education and learning should be managed, shifting away from the instructor as the expert on all content to more of a dynamic relationship where the instructor has ample opportunity to learn from the learners just as the learners have ample opportunity to learn from the instructor. Empowering students is teaching them a lifelong skill that will enable them to succeed in every aspect of their lives.

Metacognitive Skills:

Another way is through the teaching of metacognitive skills. Metacognition is when the student learns to reflect or think about their learning carefully; it is when students understand at a deeper level what they are learning and what it really means (reflect upon) in relation to their already existing knowledge.  Metacognition is when the learner has knowledge about ‘things’, has knowledge on how to do the ‘things’ and has knowledge about why the ‘things’ are done the way that they are. Active learning requires metacognitive learning skills. “Active learning means students are building their own minds through an active and involved process in which they make an idea, a concept, or a problem solution their own by assimilating it into their own understandings.” (Barkley. 2010. p. 25). Metacognition promotes assessment and transformation of our beliefs in what is wrong, possible or true.

Classroom Community:

Yet another way to engage students is by creating a classroom community where there is a feeling of being a part of a group of people with similar interests & goals. Human nature leads us to want to be a part of society, to be connected to those around us. The vision of what classroom community & connectedness looks like has changed in recent years, there is increased dependence on technologies such as blogs, Moodle, Skype, YouTube, Twitter etc.; this has opened the door wide open to the utilization of multiple avenues for students and instructors to work together in teams (communities), across time, cities, provinces & countries; in fact, around the world. The days of only being able to participate in discussions and activies in a physical classroom setting are gone and wonderful new ways of creating learning communities are becoming available to us at a breathtaking speed.

Community is something that is planned for, worked on, and is a constantly changing dynamic. “Without an excellent, intentionally designed, emotional environment (one which builds authentic community in the classroom), the standards and the technologies are of little value”. (Edutopia. 2014).   Community doesn’t just happen, it is created; it is an essential component to authentic learning.


Assessment and feedback throughout the learning experience, that occurs in a timely manner is essential to continued learning. Through feedback, the learner is able to adjust his or her thinking, to understand different concepts, opinions and interpretations of information. Assessment of work needs to be directed towards ‘assessment for learning’, not towards ‘assessment of learning’ in order for the learner to benefit from it. Formative vs summative assessments need to be carefully considered and must reflect the goals of the learning. Authentic assessment is invaluable in preparing learners for ‘the real world’. Assessment is the instructors, as well as the students, avenue to communicate success, make suggestions, have discussions etc.; in other words, to create a transformative learning experience.

These four ways of achieving student engagement (student empowerment, teaching metacognitive thinking skills, creating a classroom community & assessment) are not an all-inclusive list of techniques that can be utilized in order to promote student engagement, but they are the ones that I would like to incorporate into my own teaching role.   I need to start incorporating these concepts and techniques into my practice and to avoid overwhelming myself I would like to start with these four.


So how am I going to go about incorporating these techniques into my practice? First I will keep a copy of the book Student Engagement Techniques A Handbook for College Faculty in my office in an easy to see and access place to avoid the adage of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. I am very excited about being able to promote engagement and to help learners as well as other instructors learn ways to achieve it. I know that many of the instructors in my workplace have not had the privilege of learning what I am learning in this Instructor Education Program and I would like to share what I have learned with them in order to improve their own instructional experiences.

I went through the ‘Tips and Strategies’ section in the course textbook Student Engagement Techniques A Handbook for College Faculty and would like to start with 3 techniques and focus on them and become familiar with them. Once they have become a part of my instinctive instructional practice, I would like to then go back to the book (or other sources) and look for more techniques to use in order to expand my repertoire of techniques to achieve the goal of student engagement.

Activate Prior Learning:

“Because active learning requires students to integrate new information or ideas into what they already know, it is helpful to have students participate in activities that activate prior knowledge”. (Barkley. 2010. p. 98) All health care professionals have attended some level of education in order to qualify for the positions they are currently working in; add previous education to ongoing education as well as experience and you have a deep well of prior learning to draw and build upon. I think the concept of learning new information by attaching it to previously learned information is essential to ongoing learning. Without knowing the proper name for this technique, I have already learned how to use it and have instinctively incorporated it into my own learning experiences in a very informal manner. In health care it is easy to find examples of workplace situations that people have been in and build on them in order to promote discussions and emotional responses that enhance learning.

This technique incorporates metacognition, a sense of community and student empowerment as the learners feel free to share their experiences as well as how they managed them; it allows for discussion on different ways to manage those situations when in different settings (ie: acute care vs. a clinic vs. home health etc.). Self-assessment is also incorporated into this technique as the learners can reflect on how they managed any given situation or how they would manage the situation if it occurred again in the future. It also prepares learners for other future situations through experience in similar situations. Classroom community is developed as people share their experiences and learn from each other.

Effective Transfer:

Effective Transfer works right alongside of Activating Prior Knowledge. “Active learners connect new ideas and information to already known concepts and principles as well as apply already known concepts and principles to new situations”. (Barkley. 2010. p. 99). The transference of previously learned knowledge onto newly acquired knowledge depends on the learner being able to join old & new together in order to transform their thinking and viepoints. This ability to transfer knowledge allows the learner to constantly build, understand and apply information that they learn throughout their lifetime.

According to Barkley (2010. P. 101), there are three components to effective transfer: emotional connection, sense and meaning. Emotional connections increase the likelihood that new memories will be stored permanently in the memory, the ability to “make sense” of new information allows the learner to connect it to previously learned information (Constructivism), and placing meaning or context onto the information allows the learner to determine the importance or applicability of the new information. Is this new information worthy to be transferred into my current knowledge base or changing my viewpoints for?).

In order for this technique to be successful, the instructor must not rush the classroom activities; the brain needs time to assimilate the new information into its data bases, to build new, or strengthen existing, neural pathways. When activies are rushed the brain does not have time to do important piece of work and new information is lost instead of stored.

This technique helps to build classroom community, it allows for ongoing and authentic assessment as well as incorporating metacognitive learning; it helps the learner to successfully store, identify and retrieve information.

What’s the Problem?:

“One of the first steps in good problem solving is being able to correctly identify what kind of problem one is dealing with in order to determine the appropriate principles and techniques needed to solve the problem”. (Barkley. 2010. p. 252).

In life there are inevitably issues that arise that don’t have easy answers; at work there are always difficulties with interpersonal relationships. When people are required to work in teams in order to complete projects or resolve issues, different personalities can quickly start to rub against each other. In my role in Home Health, I am facilitating a workshop on Interprofessional Collaboration, part of the lesson plan involves identifying our communication style, identifying our job description (just what exactly do you do anyways?), and trying to understand why we ‘do the things we do’. The focus is to learn how to successfully work together as a team to enhance quality patient care. I think this technique is essential to success in this workshop.

Taking real life situations and having the learners determine what the problems or issues are that are inhibiting successful completion of a task is an excellent way to encourage metacognitive & critical thinking, a sense of community as they work together to resolve the issue, as well as assessment of the learners knowledge and skill.

I think that if I am able to take these techniques and incorporate them into my lesson plans I will have greater success in engaging the learners in my workplace, workshops as well as with my own children. In order to be successful I will need to carefully study and plan each activity in advance of classroom time, I will need to move in a step by step fashion to ensure I am using the technique correctly. I also know that as I practice these techniques they will become second nature to my instructional strategies, delivery of instruction as well as my assessment of learning. Once I have mastered these techniques I will move onto new ones, and so on, and so on…..


Barkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques A Handbook for College Faculty. San

Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Edutopia. (Sept 2014). Back to School: A Surefire Strategy for Building Classroom Community. Retrieved


The Glossary of Education Reform (Sept, 2014). Student Engagement. Retrieved from:

Documented Problem Solutions – a Classroom Assessment Technique – an audio visual presentation

Be patient with the 2nd slide – it takes a few seconds to move to the 3rd one.


July 2014

Bonus Marks: What are the issues? What are the pros & cons? Should they be part of an evaluation?

Here is an article of a creative way an instructor utilized bonus marks and maintained his standards:

Extra Credit Assignments: An Innovative Approach


July 6/14

Reflections on Dynamic, Peer and Self-Assessment


“Dynamic implies something alive and moving, rather than fixed and predictable.” (Fenwick & Parsons. 2009. P 98)

“Peer assessment involves the formative or summative assessment of a product, activity or action by one’s peer or peers.” (Fenwick & Parsons. 2009. P 254)

“Self-assessment is the act of identifying standards or criteria and applying them to one’s own work, and then making a judgement as to whether – or how well – you have met them.” (Fenwick & Parsons. 2009. P 111


     My gut reaction to the above statements is mixed. I understand the importance of ‘dynamic assessment’ as an ongoing process that has a life of its own that cannot be known and mapped out ahead of time. Peer assessment is a task that I only want to do when I have good things to say; positive, encouraging and insightful things. The words ‘Self-assessment’ feel like a kick in the stomach.

Dynamic assessment is a comfortable concept for me. Life teaches you that nothing is static; that often knowledge is relevant to specific situations but that it can also be used diversely to understand a wide variety of concepts. My experiences in nursing school, the work environment and in courses taken over the years have been more of a cumulative process where there were projects, papers and tests with grades assigned by the instructor with little feedback.

I remember when I was in my 2nd year of nursing school and I was looking after a very ill patient with an RN, I couldn’t get a blood pressure on this person and asked the RN for help. She couldn’t get it either so while she was assessing the patient further I went and got my instructor; this was a bad mistake. She pulled out a double stethoscope that had 2 sets of ear pieces and one bell to listen through (who even knew there was such a thing?). We listened for that blood pressure together and I still couldn’t hear it. My instructor felt otherwise and informed me that she heard it clearly and walked away.   As I worked with the RN I learned that the patient was in congestive heart failure and the pulse was so weak that it was impossible to take with a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope, we had to palpate the blood pressure (a new skill for me). The RN was wonderful, she walked me through the assessment, the treatment and follow up. I thought the day was productive, I had learned a new skill and when & where it could be used.

About a month later I was having my final evaluation for the course and much to my surprise, the instructor said that I had failed the course because I couldn’t take a blood pressure. You can imagine my shock! I couldn’t believe it. Nothing had ever been said to me about the incident after the instructor walked away from the bedside. I went to the director of the school and spoke to her; the incident was explained from both my perspective and the instructor’s perspective. I am still nursing so you can guess the result. I was passed without any problem. I asked to have the documentation stating that I couldn’t take a blood pressure removed from my school record and it was.

That was a horrible situation for me; I was young and not very confident in myself. A few years later, after I had graduated and was working as an RN myself, and had student nurses working with me; I vowed I would never put anyone in that type of a situation, and I haven’t.

There was no encouragement to learn and grow, to understand why the blood pressure was so difficult to take; there was no ‘assessment for learning’, there were no reflective dialogue, there was no tracking of how knowledge developed from that incident.

Peer assessment became a standard practice as I worked my way through nursing school; it also was a common form of evaluation when working as an RN.   We had no books or guidance on how to assess our peers, it simply happened on a day to day basis when we acknowledged the wisdom and skill of co-workers, by asking them for assistance in situations where we were unsure how to proceed.   I know that this isn’t necessarily the type of peer assessment we are talking about here but it was a form of it.

Another time I tried to get information from my peers at work was when I was looking to develop my leadership skills; I sent out questions to several of my peers and the only information I got back was positive, there was only one constructive comment telling me that my enthusiasm could be perceived as being ‘pushy’.   The same basic situation occurred in the PIDP 3220 ‘Delivery of Instruction’ course. Despite the instructor’s instructions to be constructive, all of the peer evaluations given to the students were very nice with few if any suggestions for improvement.

Self-assessment is not something that I am comfortable with; in the PIDP 3100 ‘Foundations of Adult Education’ course we had to self-evaluate our exit interview. I was torn because I had worked very hard to prepare for the questions and wanted to give myself a grade that reflected the hard work that I had done in preparation for the interview, but I also knew that there was most likely a lot that I still needed to learn. In the end, the instructor’s grade was only slightly lower than mine.

These were my first reactions to dynamic, peer & self-evaluations; but now that I have read the assigned reading and done some research on my own, I am feeling more confident in the processes required to ensure accurate, constructive, self-reflective, goal and curriculum related assessments in whatever format they come in.


The following is a youtube clip that is humorous as well as informative.

Student-centered Assessment Jeopardy

Dynamic Assessment

According to Fenwick & Parsons, Dynamic Assessment is based on 4 principles:

  • It is an ongoing process that develops over time; it’s a progressive evolution that reflects the learner’s journey of learning.
  • It centers on the fact that it is not what we know in this moment, but how we came to know it, and, how we plan to continue nurturing the development of further knowledge.
  • It recognizes that learners come from different walks of life and that the perspectives we have created as our own can affect our learning processes.
  • It acknowledges that ‘no man is an island’ and that we are all interconnected to each other; that our interconnectedness affects who we are and what and how we learn. (Fenwick & Parsons. 2009)

Dynamic assessment isn’t only interested in what we have learned, but how we came to learn it, how it fits into our world view, and how we will be able to use it in a real world context. Many instructors and learners may be uncomfortable with dynamic assessment because of its unpredictable nature; it doesn’t follow a foreseeable path. When first starting to change traditional assessment strategies into dynamic strategies, the instructor and student may find that it requires more work to initiate, apply and follow through with. In the end the outcomes are so much more valuable, insightful and engaging.   When we begin to truly understand the evolution of knowledge, how it unfolds over time and in different circumstances, we begin to see the value of dynamic assessment.

  •   Dynamic assessment takes new knowledge and explores its relevance; it looks at the learner as a whole, not just a part. It is ongoing, it requires analysis and reanalysis – there are no singular goals, but a series of successive goals that branch out in multiple directions.   Dynamic assessment provides the freedom to make learning a personal experience, to change people from the inside out.
  •      Dynamic assessment does not set a predetermined definitive direction of the course learning is to take, it allows multidirectional growth that is life changing; after all, the purpose of learning and knowledge is to bring meaning to life, and to change our lives and the lives of those around us. Instructors planning on using a dynamic assessment model need to clearly explain what the expectations are as well as guide the students in determining when they have met the stated expectations. An ongoing record of assessment is crucial to allow the learners to track their progress, to see how far they have come in their learning journey.   Instructors also need to help the learners to decipher and clarify exactly what “growth” looks like to the learners in order to help them recognize it when it happens.Peer Assessment“Students engaged in peer assessment help one another identify strengths, weaknesses, and target areas for improvement.” (Andrade, Huff & Brooke, April 2012. p.7).
  • The dynamics of assessment can change when ‘Peer to Peer’ assessment is used; the power levels in the relationship change from equals to the assessor having power over the assessed.   It is essential that clear guidelines and criteria be established on how peer to peer assessment is to occur. The instructor needs to educate the learners on the process of peer to peer assessment, as well as allow practice of the skill because it is not an instinctive or comfortable skill for everyone.   This process can be anxiety-provoking and intimidating; it has the potential to be devastating if not used correctly.
  • Peer to peer assessment provides the person being assessed with different perspectives and ideas, as well as thought provoking insights into what is being assessed. The assessed is not the only one to benefit from this process, the assessor also gains valuable information and comprehension into what is being evaluated, as well as the instructor who may find viewpoints he/she had never thought of before.
  • According to Fenwick & Parsons there are 2 components to peer assessment: observing & communicating.*What is the role of the observer?*What are the limitations of the observer?*What criteria are being used in the assessment & how does the observer use them?*How does one gain the experience & knowledge to discern, understand and evaluate according to the criteria provided?(The Art of Evaluation, A Resource for Educators and Trainers 2009)

When an assessment is taking place, the assessor is an active partner in the interchange; the assessor can never know or fully understand the information being provided to the same depth as the one who developed it. Also, the assessor comes into the interchange with preconceived conceptions that will influence their understanding. Therefore an ongoing conversation needs to take place throughout the assessment for clarity & understanding, in order for an authentic and equitable evaluation to occur. Lastly, the assessor needs to learn the art of presenting their thoughts and suggestions in a manner that is constructive and honest. Peers who are familiar with each other would be able notice when the above components are not in place; an assessment that is not respected by the assessor will not produce the desire to take what has been said and grow from it.


“It is critical to recognize the nature of self-assessment as formative. Self-assessment is done on work in progress in order to inform revision and improvement; it is not a matter of having students determine their own grades.” (Andrade et al., 2012. P. 6)

Self-assessment can sound intimidating, and many people may wonder what benefits can be achieved through it; how can it possibly be of any help to them? Self-assessment will help learners to improve their skill level & knowledge; it will help them to attain their goals and standards.

Self-assessment is a newer concept that supports a higher level of student achievement that has a higher level of learner involvement; it helps the learner to be intimately aware of their ongoing thinking processes so that they can grow from past experiences – either positive, or negative.   When we take the time to look at ourselves, to reflect on what we do & why we do it, we are more cognisant of how we do things and we become increasingly accountable for our own work, learning & actions. As we become more accountable for our learning, we are better able to focus on what we want to attain, and, we grow in confidence in our ability to accomplish the goals we set. Accountability, confidence, accomplishment all lead to a better ability to determine the direction we want our lives to take. Self-assessment creates an upward spiral of growth & development.

Self-assessment changes the source of evaluation and growth away from the instructor and onto the learner.   Many learners are dependent on the feedback they get from their instructors, and because they have never learned to critically & constructively provide their own feedback, they are afraid to break the chain that binds them to their old sources of assessment. Self-assessment is only one form of assessment, they are many others, both formal & informal; there are many assessment tools that can be used in differing situations. There is not one assessment tool or style that can be used in all situations; we are blessed to live in a day and age where there are so many resources available to us, resources that enhance our assessment techniques.


Over many years of learning, I have come to value dynamic assessment; if we don’t take the time to have discussions, be creative, reflect on what we have learned, where we have come from & where we want to be, take risks and to be ourselves how will we ever know the significance of what we are doing. We need to ‘connect the dots’ of what we are learning with what we already know, create visions for our futures. In order to do this we need to take the time to determine where we want to go and how we might get there and enjoy the journey as we move towards our goals.

I plan to take the time to ask more questions, not just in the classroom, but in everyday life. I’ll take the time to find out what is going on in the minds of others. I’ll continue with journal writing and encourage others to do the same. I have found it very insightful to go back and read the journal entries I created in PIDP 3100 – the first course I took in the PIDP. I realize I have come a long way and matured in my thinking and understanding of education. I would like to discuss journal writing with colleagues and talk about it in classes that I am facilitating. In order to incorporate dynamic assessment into my everyday world, I will have to take the time to plan it into my day to day activities.

After reading all of the assigned chapters on this topic, my head was swimming with so many ideas and strategies that I could try out in my home life with my children, in my work environment and when I am facilitating education classes. I decided that the best plan of action would be to pick one assessment type for peer to peer assessment and one assessment type for self-assessment, ones that I could utilize right away while my enthusiasm was at a high point.

Currently I am co-facilitating a session on an ‘Interprofessional Collaboration’ series developed by Fraser Health. Last week was the first time that I had co-facilitated this particular session. The instructor who had facilitated it before advised the class that we would be out by 3pm and that she would be very careful to keep the session on schedule according the agenda that had been handed out. The day went well, we stuck pretty close to the agenda, but at the end of the day she abruptly ended everything at precisely 3pm. I was shocked and felt cheated of a proper wind up to allow the people present to have a time to bring into focus what they had learned and how they could apply it to their own circumstances.

I think that informal assessment techniques would work best in my current role as a facilitator, as well as in my own self-evaluation; we are not graded in our courses and there is no time allotted for a formal evaluation. In my work, there are no formal grades, we are to develop learning plans and re-assess ourselves each year with our supervisor.

One of the informal ‘self-assessment’ techniques that I have seen used in the past, and that I think would have worked well here, is to use the following questions:

I’m left feeling…

Something I learned about myself…

Something I learned about others…

Something I learned about groups…

These questions look really good on paper, but the past experiences I have had with these types of evaluations are that when these questions (or any others) are handed out at the end of the day, many people will quickly jot something down without taking the time to constructively evaluate exactly what they felt & what they had learned. They just want to get out the door and get onto whatever it is that they need to do next.

Suggestion: My thoughts are that the instructor should remind the learners at the beginning of the day (session), as well as half way through the day (session), that they should be reflecting on the questions to determine answers that helped them to capture valuable insight into their day.

Another self-assessment technique that intrigued me was the “Getting on the Same Track” described in Fenwick & Parsons The Art of Evaluation, A resource for educators and trainers (2009) where the instructor has the learners stop periodically throughout the course (session) to reflect on the following questions…

*Ask yourself what are you thinking and feeling?

*Ask yourself what reasons are behind your opinions?

*Tell others the reasons behind your thinking?

*Ask others to explain their feelings.

*Ask others to explain the reasons behind their thinking

(Fenwick & Parsons, 2009 p. 117)

I really like this strategy and feel that it would work well in certain situations in health care.

Suggestion: In order for this technique to work effectively, there would have to be instructions on time limits the learners would have to focus on expressing themselves articulately in only a few moments. If this type of assessment was not set up in a controlled fashion, it could end up taking up a lot of valuable class time. I also think that answering these questions could be difficult at first, but as learners become familiar with them, they will be able to formulate their thoughts much faster as well as with increased accuracy and deeper insight.

Peer to peer assessment is going to have to be something that I am aware of and that I can incorporate into future activities. I have become a representative for the ‘Engagement Advocacy’ group and would like to incorporate this, in a very informal way, to build up self-esteem, to encourage others. At this time, our office environment is difficult because of staffing & workload issues so I think a light & positive approach to peer to peer assessment can be utilized in advocating engagement and the theme that “every opinion matters”.

This has been a very interesting topic and one that I have really enjoyed learning about, it is something that will be useful in many situations and environments and will improve many aspects of my life and career



Andrade, Huff & Brooke. (April 2012). Assessing for Learning. The Student at the Center Series. Retrieved from:


Fenwick, T. & Parsons J. (2009). The Art of Evaluation; A Resource for Educators and Trainers

(2nd ed.). Toronto: Thompson Educational

June 13/14

The Importance of Alignment


‘Alignment in ALL strategies is crucial to ensure content validity’.


I have to admit that I have never really formally thought about this but once I read about alignment, it all makes sense. How would I feel if I signed up for a class that promised to deliver certain information, tools to learn that information & a means to measure how well I really learned what was promised, and it wasn’t delivered the way that was promised? What if I was depending on this journey of learning to prepare me for future education, for safety at work, for career advancement or self-fulfillment? What if I was declined for a promotion because I hadn’t been given to tools to adequately learned what I was to learn? What if I went to work in my role as a nurse and compromised the safety or the very life of another person who trusts me to care for them?

These questions sound dramatic and arguably represent extremes but they are valid questions. In order for an education session or course to be successful, it must be well planned out and follow the concept or the 3 pillars of alignment. The processes they represent makes perfect sense and will ultimately make the educator and the learners jobs easier & more fulfilling.

I am finding my educational journey through PIDP and with Athabasca University very expensive; it is putting challenges on the time I have to spend with my family as well as on the family budget. I would feel cheated by the very institutions that I trusted to provide me with the knowledge that I am looking for to succeed with my goals in life and, I would feel that I had cheated my family by spending money that could have been spent elsewhere for family activities instead of on education that was incomplete.

In Fraser Health Authority, competition for education positions on the Clinical Resource Team is extremely competitive.   In a recent job interview for an educator position I was so glad that I had taken PIDP 3100 Foundations of Adult Education, I can look back and see that the course incorporated the 3 pillars of alignment into its overall development thereby helping me to critically think/learn about what was taught, not just memorize it, but to make it a part of my practice. PIDP 3210 Curriculum Development was the same; what I learned was what I was promised, its alignment was well balanced.   These well planned courses made for a positive learning experience for which I am grateful.

I have taken many courses over the years and not all courses were aligned in their planning, delivery & assessment. This lack of alignment is sad because the educators put so much effort into the development of the course & ended up with results that did not attain their objectives or reach the level of learning that was hoped for. Disappointing for all the people involved!

I have taken courses that were well planned, delivered where I received honest feedback through multiple methods; they were a delight to be a part of. These courses delivered what was promised and so much more, they promoted critical thinking to ensure my understanding, they made what was learned pertinent to my situation. They were worth the time and money that was spent.


“…it is not enough simply to be a good instructor if your curriculum or your evaluation procedures and tools are inadequate. A poor test can negatively skew the results of good teaching. Similarly, a good curriculum or good tests is no guarantee of good teaching. On the other hand, sometimes a good teacher can make the best of a poor curriculum so that students still effectively learn the material to acceptable levels”. (Vancouver Community College, 2013, pp 19)

Alignment: “…effective instruction and learning depends upon good curriculum, good teaching and facilitation of learning, and good evaluation strategies, tools and procedures”. (Vancouver Community College, 2013, pp 19)

Content validity: “To ensure that the content of a test of observation is correct, the instructor must show that the questions asked or skills demonstrated are representative of those which were taught and learned in class”. (Vancouver Community College, n.d., pp 1)

Accountability: “…accountability means measuring how well people or programs keep their promises” (Fenwick &Parsons. (2009). pp 2)

The 3 Pillars of Alignment are Crucial to Excellent Curriculum

I think that my initial reactions listed above were based on my many classroom experiences as well as my strong desire to do what I do well.   I have had so many experiences where I came into a classroom expecting to learn based on a set of objectives and found myself lost in the delivery of the material (often on Power Point), and found myself leaving the room wondering what I had just learned, with no clear focus in my mind. The feeling of my head swimming with information but not being able to put it into its proper perspective in my mind is overwhelming and frustrating. Too much information without clear dividing lines between topics and no conclusion to bring me back to the objectives. Summative educator evaluations used at the end of the class, using standard questions that no one really wants to answer because they want to leave to get back to work, or better yet, home, have not been adequate. These experiences are unfulfilling and unproductive. I can see the need for a balance of the 3 pillars (development, delivery & evaluation) in order for success.

Perfect Alignment

What      =       How      =     Assessment

This scenario represents perfect course development.   Here the goals/objectives are clearly staged.   The course content and delivery of the content is what was expected/promised and is balanced and meets the goals/objectives; not too much & not too little. The evaluation process has truly evaluated what the learners have learned, using techniques that are appropriate for the course content, styles of learning & expectations. This is a scenario that is well thought out and provides a well balanced approach.

Unbalanced Alignment e.g. #1

How     =    Assessment


The learner comes to the course with certain expectations of what is to be learned. As the course progresses along, the learner realizes that the content is not what was expected, it is much more in-depth & difficult. As the course continues along, the assessments used do not reflect what the course objectives were. The learner signed up for the course with the understanding that it would meet his/her needs but ended up in a course that has higher expectations that he/she thought. Maybe this will lead to a low grade, or a sense of failure or even of the learner giving up because he/she feels hopeless to move on. Definitely it will cause undue stress & anxiety on the learner. But what about the educator. He/she set out to teach certain material, puts a lot of effort into the development of the teaching materials and then expects the students to rise to the occasion and do well on assessments. What if this does not occur? What if many of the students do poorly on the work and assessments? For both sides this scenario will likely produce tension, anxiety & a sense of failure.

Unbalanced Alignment e.g. #2


How         =          Assessment

This time around, the educator put a lot of effort into setting objectives for learning but did not provide the tools to the learners to succeed. The learners may soon realize that they do not need to hand in work of high standards, not putting in their best efforts because they don’t have to. This scenario fails to assist the learners to reach their full potential. When marks come back high for poor work, some learners may feel happy but what will it prove? Have the learners been prepared to move on to other courses or are they prepared to use what they have learned in the real world? Neither educator nor learner will come away feeling truly satisfied and successful


Based on what I know about myself & my drive to perfectionism, I will definitely be following this concept in my educational practices. I plan to keep a picture of the Perfect Alignment pillars in full view in my office to remind & inspire me to strive for excellence.

Alignment is critical to excellent education and must be constantly in the thoughts of the educator, when developing, delivering and evaluating efficacy of their work and the success of their students. Adult learners have specific needs, goals, limited time to attain them and need to be responsible for their part of their learning, but as educators we must be responsible for ours.

As an educator I need to be aware of these needs; I want to be up to date on educational strategies to better the work that I do to help my learners meet their needs. I want to be reflective of my practice.

In the next few weeks I will be developing presentations for my fellow staff members on a variety of topics, they are not necessarily curriculum but I intend to follow the same principles of the 3 pillars. I am also co-facilitating the Interprofessional Collaboration Series to various staff members from different disciplines. I know that I will be looking closely at the already developed curriculum to positively critique it and to look for ways that I would develop it differently in order to follow 3 pillars of alignment.


Fenwick, T. & Parsons (2), J. (2009). The Art of Evaluation; A Resource for Educators and Trainers (2nd ed.). Toronto: Thompson Educational

Vancouver Community College (2013). PIDP 3210 Curriculum Development Course Manual. British Columbia Provincial Instructor Diploma Program Course Manual

Vancouver Community College. (n.d.). PIDP 3230 Appendix A: Key Terminology. British Columbia Provincial Instructor Diploma Program


June 2014

Assessment for Learning


Assessment for learning entails the development of ongoing Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT) that assists the educator and the learner to evaluate the level of learning that has occurred. It also allows for evaluation by the educator and learner of where further learning needs to occur. It involves a collaborative relationship between the educator and the learner over the term of the course in a constant feedback loop of evaluation.


When I first started reading about ‘Assessment for Learning’, my first reaction was a feeling of confusion: what does this mean? How is this different from what I have experienced in courses I have taken over the years?   My second reaction was that this process would take a lot of time on both the educators and the learner’s part in the overall development, delivery & evaluation of the course content. My third reaction occurred after I finished reading all of the text book materials and watched the listed videos, it was an “ah ha” moment. I was beginning to understand how this process would be of such a great benefit to everyone involved; how it would greatly improve the outcomes of learning for the learner but also instill further knowledge & understanding in the educator as he/she incorporated different perspectives into his/her own understanding of the content. I also saw how in the long run, the extra work saves time.

I have to admit that it took me a while to really comprehend the differences between ‘Assessment of Learning’ and ‘Assessment for Learning’. At the beginning the differences seemed so small and unimportant. I was beginning to wonder why I couldn’t place this concept into a nice neat little box in my mind, slide it into one of my mind’s filing cabinet drawers where I store my knowledge, experiences and understanding in an organized manner that closely resembles the Constructivist learning theory.

I started to “get it” when I realized that the course content and evaluative process doesn’t necessarily change, but that it’s the relationship between the educator and the learner that changes. The ongoing development of a trusting relationship that builds confidence and encourages self-reflection of learning needs is paramount to the success of this technique.

Adult learners come with a complex and varied background and they bring wisdom and knowledge to the classroom, to the other learners as well as to the educator. By engaging in ongoing discussions and evaluation, the in-depth understanding of the course material as well as the application to real life situations is greatly enhanced.


In thinking back to grade school evaluations (many, many years ago), to taking the written test to get my driver’s licence, the written exams in nursing school, my gigantic fear of returning to the continuing education/university halls of higher learning, and to work related testing on a variety of topics and tasks, I realized that these evaluations created in me high levels of anxiety. What caused the anxiety? The fear of looking bad in front of my peers, this was the very strong motivator to study and practice. Another motivator was the need to meet my own expected standards of myself.   These were the motivators that drove me, not necessarily the desire to understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of what I was learning as well as. These motivators were fear based and did not encourage an in-depth understanding. I have noticed over the years that I have often walked away from classroom sessions wondering how what I had learned was relevant to my own world and, how it fit into the bigger organizational structure of Fraser Health Authority – where was this leading to.

I was co-facilitating a class on Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC) yesterday to health care professionals from multiple disciplines across Fraser Health Authority. It was my first time teaching this material but I felt prepared because I had studied as well as practiced my delivery in front of the bathroom mirror several times.   Much to my dismay, I found myself leaving out pieces of information that I had thought critical to understanding what IPC is all about & how it will improve practice and patient outcomes, save time and health care dollars.

I tend to be very hard on myself and my co-worker that I was co-facilitating with noticed my frustration and at lunch break she told me that I was doing great. She affirmed that she sometimes does the same thing and she pointed out a few ‘tricks’ that she noticed me using to help my presentation go smoothly, such as: using real life stories to invoke emotional learning & aid in retention of material, taking time to allow discussions and asking people to think about situations that they found themselves in at work, and how this material would help them in the future. I was so grateful to her for this positive feedback; it really helped me to continue and to carry on with more confidence. That is a great example of Assessment for Learning, just in a different context.

After the class was over, we sat down for 30 minutes and reviewed how the session went, what went well and what could we do better next time.   I was able to tell her that I found it difficult to relate the “message” of the course to what I did in my day to day job and that we needed a “take away” time at the end of the day to help the learners to examine their own work situations and how this new information about IPC could be used there. This experience was again a form of “Assessment for Learning”; it helped me to see what could be achieved with this technique and we have committed to continue this debriefing after we facilitate each session. We encouraged each other to feel free to make suggestions about the course content and delivery at any time, that neither of us would be offended, that we would look at feedback and discussions as ways to improve our course.

In the text book, The Art of Evaluation, a Resource for Educators and Trainers, Fenwick & Parsons write that “the power of assessment for learning is that it occurs during the teaching and learning process rather than after teaching and learning has been completed”. (Fenwick & Parsons 2009, p. 157).   Exams in my past often were summative and there was little feedback along the way but in taking the PIDP courses, I am seeing firsthand how many of the CAT’s used are encouraging learning and understanding. The ability to present assignments and be reviewed by peers prior to submission for grading, as well as being able to review others work allows for various points of view or perspectives on topics related to course content; it allows for ongoing improvement before a final evaluation is completed. Discussions on “Hot Potato topics” or “class forums” provide a nonthreatening environment for discussions that dig deeper into understanding. The ability to review previous assignments that received a high grade as well as the rubrics provides a sample of the standard of work that is expected.

If the basic goal of continuing education is “to produce the highest possible quality of student learning” (Angelo & Cross (1993) p 3) and, if one of the keys to successful teaching & learning is assessment, then the CATs used must be chosen carefully to reflect the goals of the course in order to develop high quality learning. The CAT tools used will reflect the goal(s) of the curriculum ie: assessing for the ability to analyze and think critically, assessment for the learner’s awareness of the values and attitudes towards the course materials, or assessing the learner’s recall of curriculum facts.   There are many CAT techniques to choose from allowing the educator and maybe even the learners to choose technique(s) that they feel will best evaluate their learning. Educators do not have to stick to one style or another, but can be creative and have some fun in the overall collaborative learning process with their learners.

The following in by no means an all-inclusive comparative list between Assessment of Learning and Assessment for Learning; it provides a beginning understanding of the differing principles that each assessment type is based upon.

Assessment of Learning vs. (Assessment for Learning)         

Educator role: teach course curriculum and provide summative evaluations at stated intervals (Educator’s role: teach course material in an interactive manner; provide ongoing formative assessment to improve learner understanding & interpretation of course material. May provide summative evaluation at stated intervals)

States what the goals & criteria for the course are (Promotes learner understanding of the goals & criteria)

Focuses on what is to be learned (Focuses on how the learners are able to learn)

Focus is on memorization of facts (Focus is on the process of gaining knowledge and the interpretation of how that knowledge affects the learners environment)

Provides instructions on what assignments are required and when they are due (Provides exemplars from previous learners to demonstrate the level of work expected on assignments)

Requires initial planning and development of course curriculum and classroom activities (Requires ongoing revisions of course curriculum and teaching methods to better suit the learners needs)

Focus is on a grade(s) (Focus is on the journey of the learner throughout the course

Focuses on test results (Focuses on educational achievements)

Fosters fear & anxiety of results of testing (Fosters motivation)

The educator is separate from the learner (The educator develops a relationship with the learner)


What is the purpose of education? Why do adults subject themselves to ongoing learning?  When adults set out to learn there is a purpose. The purpose may be self-improvement on a social scale; it may be for fun such as learning to make jewellery or how to kayak on the ocean.   Learning may be to qualify for a certain job, maintain a job or to get a better job. Whatever the reason, adults have limited time and resources to attain these goals so it is the responsibility of the educator to develop curriculum and ongoing assessment techniques to assist the learner to attain these goals as best as they can.

I wish that I had known of some of this information before developing the Home Health SSMSE Administration & Scoring course lesson plan. I would have utilized more CAT techniques throughout the course, CAT techniques that would better reflect a more practical aspect of the understanding of the learner after taking the course. Also, on the final exam instead of the Alternate Answer items where the learner is to determine whether or not the answer is true or false, I would have used Short Answer items, listed where the client did poorly on the SMMSE and asked what interventions would be most appropriate for the client in order to mitigate the risks caused by the deficits.   For example if the client showed deficits in his/her recall of recent conversations or word finding difficulties, the learner would be able to suggest strategies such as registering the client with the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Safely Home Program’.   The purpose of this program is that if the client became lost while outside, anyone would be able to contact the help line and find out who this person is, where they live and who their contact person is in order to get them ‘Safely Home’. This type of assessment would better reflect the type of knowledge that would be needed in order to develop a practical and attainable care plan for this client.

I also am very grateful for the book ‘Classroom Assessment Techniques’ and plan to keep it in my office as a reference, not only for exams, but for the development of learning plans. Part of the Home Health educator role is to work with nurses that are struggling to meet the criteria or the requirements of their job/position and, whose performance has been unsafe in the provision of quality patient care.   These CATs will provide creative and proven techniques to help these nurses to measure their success in becoming knowledgeable, proficient and safe nurses.

Another area where I can utilize the principles of the CATs is in my role as the ‘Engagement Advocate’ for my office. Fraser Health took data collected in 2012 and turned it into criteria for a healthy work place. One of the areas that staff felt needed improvement was the acknowledgement or recognition of great work that is being done. Staff also stated that they want to feel “heard” by management. Workloads for frontline Home Health staff are overwhelming and changes to the programs are happening at an alarming rate. Staff feel that they are not given a voice in how these changes are managed and rolled out to the various teams that they affect. The role of the engagement advocate is to promote engagement of staff & management, to act as an educator to staff on how to engage with each other as well as how to present new ideas to management in a format that management will be willing to look at.   I plan to use some of the CATs, in modified versions, to assess how well the strategies I am using are working. The concept of Assessment for Learning will be perfect in this situation as well.

I am beginning to understand the need for Assessment for Learning to occur in an ongoing and summative format in order to build the learners knowledge & understanding from a beginning level, to a higher level. Only then can the learner take what is learned and apply the newly learned knowledge to other situations that they may come across in the course of their day, not use it only in relation to the SMMSE test.   These ‘constructivist’ and ‘connectivist’ learning theories enlarge the realm that the newly learned knowledge can be used in, making it more practical and useful, increasing the learners understanding of a greater scope than the course itself strove to produce.


Angelo & Cross (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques, A Handbook for College Teachers  (2nd ed. Jersey-Bass)

Fenwick & Parsons (2009). The Art of Evaluation, A Resource for Educators and Trainers, (4th ed.) Thomson Educational 

Merriam Webster on-line dictionary and Thesaurus. (2014). Assessment. Retrieved from:

Vancouver Community College. (2014). Teaching and Learning video. Retrieved from


June 7, 2014

Evaluating the Adult Learner


“As instructors, we need to remember what happens when adults who consider themselves competent, self-reliant, and self-directing are once again in a learning situation.” (Fenwick & Parsons, 2009, p. 20)


This is a statement that evokes strong emotions in me. At the age of 52 I have returned to university to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing as well as to college to complete the Provincial Instructors Diploma Program.   I have worked in the world of nursing for 30 years as well as having a fulfilling life outside of work. Through years of hard work, I have proven myself competent and dependable to my employers.

For years I thought about returning to school in order to advance my career but the business of work, life & family kept getting in the way. If am I honest with myself, I’d have to say that the fear of failure was right at the front of the line of reasons not to subject myself to an unfamiliar learning environment.   When I left nursing school, there were few computers around and textbooks at the library were our main sources of information & research. There were no cell phones, iPads, Wi-Fi (the internet was just a baby back then), search engines or laptop computers. The world was a very different place and I was acutely aware of it. I was woefully aware of my lack of skill in handling these new methods of communication.

I have always done well at work, probably because my self-esteem demands that I do well in order to maintain my fragile ego.   I love it when people come to me with questions or looking for advice; I like it even better when I can deliver what they want. I have been on committees, volunteered to work on multiple projects and even led a few of them. School was going to be very different from the life I had built for myself at work. At work I felt respected; at school I was fearful of failure.

While taking the PIDP 3100 course, I read about the adult learning principles.

  1. “Adults need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it.”
  2. “Adults have a self-concept of being responsible for their own lives…they develop a deep psychological need to be seen and treated by others as being capable of self-direction.”
  3. “Adults come into an educational activity with both a greater volume and a different quality of experience from youths.”
  4. “Adults become ready to learn those things they need to know or…to cope effectively with their real-life situations.”
  5. “In contrast to children’s and youth’s subject-centered orientation to learning (at least in school), adults are life centered (or task centered or problem centered) in their orientation to learning.”
  6. “While adults are responsive to some extrinsic motivators (better jobs, promotions, salary increases, and the like), the more potent motivators are intrinsic motivators (the desire for increased self-esteem, quality of life, responsibility, job satisfaction, and the like” (Knowles, 1989, pp.83-84) (Merriam & Brockett, 2007, pp.136)

After learning the above, it was a relief to know that what I felt and what I feared were normal.   After all, I had worked so hard to be independent, confident in my abilities, and the one who chose where I was going next, I wasn’t intending on giving up my autonomy. I was a typical adult learner after all.


My reactions to this statement were most likely deeply rooted in the typical adult’s fear of being embarrassed in front of others or of the dreaded fear of failure or loss of control. I, like every other adult have experienced the joys of success and the pain of failure; as well as every level of emotion in-between when goals are either set & attained, or set & not attained.

I work in the field of Home Health, caring for people in their homes. Nursing in Home Health is a very competitive field if you want to advance beyond the “basic nurse” level and into the realms of education, supervising, management , policy making etc.  Recently I had the experience of being interviewed for a position by someone I had gone to nursing school with. I felt embarrassed that she had moved into a position that had the power to determine what my next career move would be. I felt the need to explain to her that the reason I was still where I was at was because I had worked for many years on a part time basis in order to raise my children in an environment I felt would be best for them; an environment that had their mom at home. I was shocked at myself and how I felt the need to explain myself for where I was to ensure she knew that I had made the decision to be where I was, that I was not where I was because of my lack of motivation or ability.

The sense of needing to be in control of my own destiny is amazingly strong. But I am learning that I am no different from anyone else.   “First, we lead people who like to be in control on a journey which is, by definition, a trek into the uncontrollable and the unfamiliar.” (Fenwick & Parsons. 2009, pp. 20)

As adults we want to appear competent to do our job, to know what we are doing. Returning to an educational setting can quickly reveal all of our flaws. “We subject them to situations where their weaknesses are on public display, where they will likely fail, and where they may not compare favourably to other adults.” (Fenwick & Parsons, 2009, pp. 20). I definitely was afraid of embarking on a pathway that was going to reveal my flaws.

Being competent, self-reliant and self-directing are key to an adults success in their ongoing education and must be built upon and respected in the learning environment by both the learner and the educator.


It is very important to be aware of the needs of adults in the learning environment; the curriculum must reflect the ways that adults need to be treated in order to satisfy their need to be self-reliant, and self-directing, and the need to feel competent. Until starting this program, many of these ideas or concepts had never crossed my mind. I am committing myself to balance all areas of curriculum when I am in the position to do so, as well as to encourage the adults I am teaching to act upon the curriculum taught in ways that meet their own needs.

In the next few weeks I am co-facilitating the Interprofessional Collaborative Series and will be very conscious of the need to meet the objectives set out by the curriculum, to spend the appropriate amount of time on the delivery of the material and to assist the learners to assess their learning by taking the time to evaluate and provide feedback.  I plan to allow interactions, discussions & activities that allow the adult learners to make the work significant to their lives & jobs.

I am also on a team developed in order to improve communication within Fraser Health. We have a new topic to “teach to” each month. I have already taught one session on “Every Opinion Matters”. I developed a lesson plan, used different methods to deliver it, but, I had not thought of discussing ways the staff could use what was learned, to give the staff the chance determine ways that they could incorporate the lesson into their everyday lives at work; a core adult learning need. I had never even thought to ask if they were interested in listening to a talk on this subject.   I know that sometimes we are forced to listen to or learn things that we aren’t particularly interested in, so I now plan to find ways to make what is being taught applicable to the staff who are listening, to encourage them to find their own ways of using what was learned. In order to do this I am going to encourage feedback of the content of the lessons, to share both positive & negative situations that happened because of what was learned in class. By doing this, each learner will be given the opportunity to choose their own actions, to be self-reliant & self-directing and as a result to find ways to feel confident in their ability to learn new ways.


Angelo, T., & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques, A handbook for College Teachers (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Fenwick, T. & Parsons J. (2009). The Art of Evaluation; A Resource for Educators and Trainers (2nd ed.). Toronto: Thompson Educational

Merriam, S. & Brockett, R. (2007). The Profession and Practice of Adult Education An Introduction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass


March 2014

Flipped Classroom

Faculty Focus Articles

March 25, 2013 Looking for

‘Flippable’ Moments in Your Class

By: Barbi Honeycutt, PhD in Instructional Design

“How do you determine what can be flipped?”

With all of this discussion around flipped classrooms, more instructors are asking this question and wondering when and where flipped strategies are best integrated into the learning environment. Certainly, some topics lend themselves more easily to flipped strategies than others, but every lesson plan has the opportunity for at least one “flippable moment.” This is the moment during class when you stop talking at your students and “flip” the work to them instead. This is the moment when you allow your students to struggle, ask questions, solve problems, and do the “heavy lifting” required to learn the material.

The Internet, online textbooks, online lectures, MOOCs, and other resources provide access to endless amounts of content, much of it free. Students can discover information on their own and find the answer to a question within a matter of seconds. What they can’t always do on their own is analyze, synthesize, and experience the process of engaging in higher levels of critical thinking. This is when they need to do the messy work of learning, evaluating, and critiquing. This also is when they need your structure and guidance, but not your answers. They have to make meaning for themselves. This is a “flippable moment.”

So, back to the original question: How do you determine what can be flipped? Here are four locations in your lesson where flipped strategies might be needed:

Flippable Moment #1:

Look for confusion. Ask yourself, “What’s the most difficult or challenging part of this lesson?” “Where do I anticipate students’ having problems or encountering difficulty?” These are the places in your lesson that would benefit from flipped strategies. Re-think this section of your lesson and design an activity for students to engage in. Maybe they need a video to watch and re-watch several times before and after class to reinforce the main points. Maybe they need a group activity to discuss the material with their peers. Maybe they need more time to practice and test their skills. If this is a lesson you’ve taught before, then you probably know where confusion is likely to occur. If you’ve never taught this lesson before, consider adding a classroom assessment technique to the middle or end of your lesson. This will allow both you and your students to determine where additional work is needed to achieve the learning outcomes.

Flippable Moment #2:

Look for the fundamentals. Ask yourself, “What’s the most fundamental, most essential, and most critical part of today’s lesson?” “What MUST students know before they can move forward?” Some may argue fundamental knowledge isn’t what needs to be flipped, but if this is an essential skill your students need to develop before moving on, then it might be the perfect place to flip your approach. Your challenge is to design multiple learning opportunities and create a variety of opportunities where students can practice, test, and reinforce their knowledge to ensure mastery. Get articles like this one delivered right to your inbox. Sign-up for our free enewsletter and join our growing community! Start your subscription now »

Flippable Moment #3:

Look at your extra credit question. Ask yourself, “What makes this an extra credit question?” “How could I turn this extra credit question into an activity or project for all of the students?” Extra credit questions are often designed to test the next level of thinking by moving students beyond memorization or comprehension, and therefore they can provide the perfect opportunity to flip your lesson. An extra credit question might encourage students to analyze, synthesize, and create alternative models or hypotheses. Students who think they know the answer will go for it just to show you how much they know (and to get a few bonus points, of course). That’s the moment when your students are motivated and curious. Motivation and curiosity are cornerstones for learning, and you can leverage that energy by using the extra credit question as a place to flip your lesson.

Flippable Moment #4:

Look for boredom. Ask yourself, “Are the students bored?” “Am I bored?” Boredom will destroy a learning environment. When you come to a point in your lesson or course when boredom strikes, it’s time to flip your approach. Design a task for your students to DO. Instead of continuing to lecture to them, take an actively passive approach and step to the side. Put them in pairs or groups. Pose a challenge. Allow them to design or evaluate something. Give them the space to struggle, practice, and imagine “what if?” so they are challenged and inspired. That’s the power of the flip. When you sit down to plan your lesson, always begin by asking yourself, “What should students DO to achieve the learning outcomes for this lesson?” To learn what you know now as an instructor, you had to do the “heavy lifting” yourself. You had to analyze, reflect, and evaluate. You had to make meaning for yourself. Now it’s your students’ turn. Flip it to them.

Dr. Barbi Honeycutt is the founder of Flip It Consulting and the director of graduate professional development and teaching programs at North Carolina State University. –

See more at:

Disadvantages of a Flipped Classroom

Daniel Duerden | September 12, 2013

Copied from:

One of the hottest trends in education right now is the flipped classroom, where students listen to and participate in online lectures from home and do ‘homework’ in class. This allows teachers to provide one on one help for students while they are doing work.

While this model sounds appealing, and is being championed by various educators around the country, there are disadvantages to the model that one has to take into account before attempting to flip a classroom.

The first thing that a teacher has to take into account before flipping a classroom is technology.

A flipped classroom relies heavily on technology. Students are required to watch lectures and other videos off of the Internet at home. Which means students must not only have access to computers at home, but must also have a strong Internet connection.

While a good majority of households in the United States have Internet and computer access within the home, there exists a digital divide between higher-income households and lower-income households.

This becomes a problem if the school is located in rural or urban areas. Often students in these areas come from lower-income households and do not have the same access as other students.

Additionally, in some rural areas Internet connections are not as fast as others, or students may not even have access to any Internet connection depending on how far away from the city they are.

Another issue that teachers attempting to flip a classroom have to recognize is that there is no real guarantee that the students are going to actually watch and participate in the online lectures.

Students have to be self-motivated, and each student has a different level of motivation.

This poses a problem if too many students come to class unprepared, and the teacher essentially has to reiterate what the student should have already learned at home on their own. It defeats the purpose of the flipped classroom as the teacher can no longer give the one-on-one attention that flipping a classroom is designed to give.

Another issue to contend with is students learning at different paces. While ideally this is great, because a teacher can help students catch up on an individual level; however, it can become a headache when a teacher has to manage multiple students in different areas, and possibly in different subjects.

This can lead to an increased workload for the teacher, possibly one that the teacher cannot bear.

Additionally, testing can become a nightmare as different students approach tests at different times. This can make it difficult to not only properly administer the tests, but also keep students from cheating by helping each other out.

These are just a few issues teachers potentially face when trying to flip a classroom; there are most likely other unknown issues that may crop up.

If a flipped classroom sounds like something worth trying, make sure to take into account these various problems before hand, and really examine whether each individual student is capable of thriving in a flipped environment.

Daniel Duerden is a writer and content editor for 360 Education Solutions


February 2/14

Web Conferences and their effect on work life in Fraser Health

Web conferencing is a valuable tool that allows for real-time conversations to take place with multiple participants in multiple locations. It has many advantages and disadvantages to traditional face to face conferencing. My experience with web conferencing has been minimal but it has proven to be very beneficial in terms of time & cost savings.

Fraser Health is a large organization that geographically extends from Burnaby to Boston Bar. Within its boundaries are over 10 separate hospital sites, a multitude of continuing care health units, public health units, clinics, physician offices, headquarters and offices; the exact number of sites within the realms of Fraser Health is difficult to determine but it is staggering.

Communication in a large organization is essential to its smooth functioning. When a meeting is required, often a central site is chosen and people from all over the health region congregate together in order to participate. It is expensive and time consuming. A new way of meeting together has been to connect via phone, video and/or office communicator. When a meeting of several people is required one person is able to set up and chair a meeting from a different location than the others. Fraser Health has a responsibility to its patients, staff and communities to be efficient and cost effective in the services that they provide.

An example of this type of meeting that I have been involved in is the daily t-con conference that occurs at 0900hrs every Monday to Friday morning. The Regional PATH team director, managers, patient care coordinators & clinical nurse educators all dial in to discuss pre-determined topics as well as to discuss any other information or questions that someone participating in the meeting requests.  A recent example was where I had researched information on wound types and the care of these wounds on the seven PATH units in Fraser Health. I was able to verbally share the information I had gathered as well as share my presentation on the how the information affected the PATH units. I was able to share my office communicator screen on the desktops of all participants so they could visually view the graphs, charts and conclusions that I had created. I chose not to use the video conferencing option in this meeting.

February 1/14

Role of the Adult Educator – What Does an Educator Do Anyways?

The development of a description of the evolving roles of the adult educator would be like trying to count the stars in the sky. Would the number vary if you were counting from the North Pole as opposed to the South Pole? What about from Pluto or the sun? The roles are as varied as the people who try to define them. Before beginning my journey into educating myself to become an adult educator, my perspective on the role was very limited. I had only barely thought of what the role meant and that maybe I was already doing the job in several different areas of my life.

The more you read, the more you learn that the evolving role of the adult educator cannot be pinned down to a simple definition. Who is an adult? What constitutes ‘educating’ someone? Can the description of the educational setting where education occurs vary   from a university campus, to sitting outside on a park bench? These are some of the questions I have begun asking myself and must ask myself in order to understand the role as an adult educator.

Having been a learning & educating adult for many years I have developed the perspective that adult educators must be willing to learn continuously, be adaptable, creative, good listeners, have people skills, be willing to admit when they don’t know something, be skilled facilitators; the list is endless. I believe that anyone with knowledge can educate another person at anytime and anywhere. The adult educator must be experience, have up to date knowledge that is research based to ensure accuracy. I hope and believe that all adult educators have obtained some level of theoretical knowledge on the subject that they teach. The depth of theoretical knowledge required for adult educators varies depending on the subject they are teaching and the goals that they are striving to obtain. As technology advances at an exciting pace, the adult educator must learn, adapt and incorporate these new resources and embrace them into their classroom, wherever that might be. The digital environment offers global connections that reach out to many cultures with varying ethical, cultural, moral & religious backgrounds. What is acceptable in one area of the world is not acceptable in another. How can one person be aware of all of these differences & incorporate them into their practice? This is a newer aspect of the role of the adult educator.

I believe that being ‘connected’ to the world of educators in a variety of ways is essential to understand what an adult educator is as well as develop and maintain the skills required to educate. Connections with academic institutions, faculty & professional newsletters, connections with lifelong learners in the workplace, professional practice groups, blogs & other social media, listening to the news, watching TV are but a few resources available to the adult educator. Every life experience is an opportunity to refine the educator’s skills.

I believe that the adult educator must continuously strive to improve as an educator, be willing to start somewhere and to strive to keep growing in knowledge & experience. Defining the role of an adult educator in one paper would be an insult to the profession itself. I believe that anyone from the friend teaching another friend to be compassionate, how to plant a garden or design a simple beaded bracelet is just as much an adult educator as the professor with the PhD teaching in the ancient academic hallways of established universities. Not all education required by adults is appropriate to be taught in a formal setting. The role of the adult educator in each situation is similar and yet different at the same time. It is the responsibility of the educator to understand what learning is and how it is best achieved in each situation.

Adult educators are an amazing group of people that are actively learning evolving, adapting and improving in their respective fields. Their roles are not stagnant and will continue to change. It is their responsibility to be the best that they can be at whatever it is that they do.

January 29/14

Current or Emerging Trends

Horizon Project 2014 Higher Education I chose this website as it has a wide variety of information to choose from & it was current and contributions were from multiple sources.

Returning to the world of learning – things have changed. I Graduated high school 1979 & from nursing school in 1985. My 1st job was typing on electric typewriters with ink ribbons and we used carbon paper. If any mistakes were made, you either had to start the document over or use correction tape or liquid paper.  It could be nerve racking at times, especially if you were jittery after a cup of coffee and your fingers wanted to type their own words.   I didn’t own my first computer until the early 1990’s. I didn’t really become aware of the internet until 15 years later.  Things changed without me really knowing it.

Returning to school 25 years later was at first, absolutely overwhelming, new technology changing at an amazing speed was anxiety provoking.  I now need help from my kids, a role reversal I wasn’t quite ready for.  There are so many gadgets, apps & other resources available now that were not even thought of when I was in school (except in sci fi movies). Smart phones, iPads, iPods, lap tops & tablets. There are now apps for everything you can d never even image you needed. By the way, what is an app?

The way of the future is a more global outreach, a more global classroom. Educators & schools need to stay on top of changes or risk becoming dinosaurs. Education is now a global system where the pace isn’t going to slow down. Educators have to speak the language of the students. Students need to feel their teachers aren’t antiquated.


Hello fellow classmates

This is my initial blog entry – I feel so tech savvy tonight.

My life is that of a wife, mother, friend, family member, pet owner, nurse, co-worker, learner etc..  I have a wonderful husband who is very supportive and an excellent cook. Two children, a 15 year old daughter who has turned out to be such a wonderful blessing in my life and a 13 year old son who can make me laugh like no one else. To round out the family we have 2 cats – a brother/ sister team who are so fun & have too much energy and who are so cuddly and soft.

I’ve been working as a nurse for over 25years. I started in the typical medical surgical setting and then moved onto maternity. My goal was to get out of shift work, so I entered the world of Home Health in the late eighties. It was a new and growing area where as nurses we looked after people in their own homes. I was part of a multidisciplinary team that also included occupational and physical therapists. We were a brave new frontier.  Orientation consisted of a few days buddied up with other nurses and a very small binder with a few instructions in it. Wow have things changed. Today Home Health is a large part of healthcare. Many people confuse us with Public Health who work in prevention and Continuing Care where we work with people who are already ill.

I started off as a Home Care Nurse where we did anything from home assessments, wound care, diabetic assistance, medication management, palliative care and a whole host of other things. We were brave, going into peoples homes on our own. I remember once when we had the police come to talk to us about safety, we said we went into a certain building and they were shocked, they didn’t go into that building alone, why did we?

There are so many funny stories and so many sad ones. We met people where they lived and saw them at their best and their worst. I have often said that I wish I knew then what I know now so I could have cared for ‘my people’ more knowledgeably. We didn’t  many resources to help us provide care to our patients. We were learning and growing as a team of health care workers. I grew up in Home Health. I had my ‘other mothers’, nurses who were older than I was and looked after me. We all went through many good as well as some challenging times in our lives together and those women are still some of the women I respect most in the world. Women who loved and cared for the people they looked after. Beautiful examples of what nursing has the potential to be.  We would have coffee every afternoon and tell stories of our day. There was the time I left my umbrella in someone’s apartment and when I went back to retrieve it (moments after I left), I was told that I hadn’t left it there. The following week, when I returned, this person had picked apart my umbrella and made a vest out of it – and had the nerve to be wearing it. Or there was the time I got a police escort into someone’s home because the whole neighbourhood had been evacuated as it was thought a dangerous offender was in the area. There were dogs and police everywhere. The person I was to see had been warned about not being home for the nursing visits the day before and refused to leave until I got there. The police weren’t impressed.  I eventually moved into the area of Case Management where we were able to assist people to stay in their own homes with the support of various resources and also helped them into are when it was time. So many wonderful relationships were developed over the years with patients and their families.

Over time I realized that I loved working with people, I have such a soft spot in my heart for people and I hate to see people hurting. Years of practice helped me to become an experienced practitioner, to develop people skills and a love for sharing what I know with others in order to make everyone’s life better.

My latest adventure has – been as a Clinical Nurse Educator in a different area of health care the role is to teach other nurses or allied heath professionals about a whole host of things pertaining to their work, updated policies and procedures as well as working on various projects. It has been very interesting and challenging to say the least but I am plowing forward and truly enjoying it.

As a mother I want my children to be aware of and be compassionate towards those less fortunate than they are, to learn to love people where they are. There have been many times when I took my children to visit one of my patients, not just to let them see life as others live it but also for the benefit of my patients. There is nothing like watching the face an elderly person light up in the presence of children, especially when they don’t see their own grandchildren very often. My children are in French immersion at school and I took them to see a lady who spoke fluent French but only broken English. My children talked with her in French for quite a while and she was so happy to have someone to talk to in her own language.

I have started these PIDP courses in order to better equip myself to educate the people who rely on me to bring the information and wisdom they need to enjoy their jobs, to apply quality care and utilize best practices. Who knows where my future will be at home or at work but I bet it will be great.

I know one thing, that is I love my job but I love my family more and have every intention of not allowing these courses to take away the family times we have together.



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