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ETAP 623 Fall 2023 | Nick Gentile Portfolio Page | Nick Gentile Mini-Course: Essential Skills to Foster an Effective Learning Environment

Welcome to Essential Skills to Foster an Effective Learning Environment  

About Me


I graduated from Mohawk Valley Community College in 2020 earning a A.S. in Adolescent Math Education and from Utica University in 2022 with a B.S. in Mathematics with a concentration in Adolescent Education. Currently, I am working on my M.S. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology at the University at Albany. My mission is to assist all of my students in regard to reaching their full potential in achieving literacy and pragmatic applications at this point in their academic career.

My Topic and Purpose

The intent of this mini-course is to focus on infusing the desired skills of the 21st century learner in alignment with pragmatic applications of utilizing and implementing communication skills, collaboration strategies, creativity and critical thinking. When designing the course, it is intentionally included that students relate to their experiences within the array of learning environments that they have been stakeholders with, meaning both roles of student and teacher. There will be multiple opportunities for students to reflect on the material and relate to their own experiences. The mini-course will have a balance of group and individual assignments.


The Modules will be facilitated as follows:

  • Module 1: Introduction
  • Module 2: Communication
  • Module 3: Collaboration
  • Module 4: Creativity
  • Module 5: Critical Thinking
  • Module 6: Final Module (Wrap-Up)

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

  • The student will demonstrate strategies of offering opportunity for students to implement creative approaches within the educational process.
  • The student will exhibit the knowledge of the benefits regarding communication and collaboration.
  • The student will illustrate methods of facilitating effective communication techniques.
  • The student will differentiate between collaboration and communication within the learning environment.
  • The student will be able to reflect on previous experiences and modify approaches by infusing opportunities for enhanced communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking within the learning process.

Needs Assessment

Educational Opportunity

While participating in mundane class structure and being programmed to succeed by memorizing facts to achieve a satisfactory score on a test, there is a whole other side of education. This side of the educational process aims to nurture and expand a students ability to communicate and collaborate with one another as well as implement creativity and critical thinking skills within their problem solving processes. The 21st Century skills desired are not aligned with fast recall and memorization. The desired skills link with an individual that illustrates creativity, the ability to communicate and collaborate, as well as exhibiting critical thinking skills.


21st Century Skills Graphic 2.png

Throughout the course of a students educational journey, the constant presence of assessment is always influencing their learning process. With an increase of access to technology, it has become a challenge to obtain and retain student attention. There is an increase in relating learning experiences to the material being discussed and the emphasis on fostering academic discourse across all disciplines. The intent of this course is to cultivate a learning environment that fosters the implementation of the four main skills, communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, by encouraging students to change their mindset by becoming comfortable with applying problem solving skills using unique solutions that are not reached by memorizing a process.


The stakeholders that are impacted by this mini-course include any individual such as students, educators, administrators, parents, et cetera. Essentially any individual that has a connection with the educational system and how the instructional process is executed.

Analysis of Gaps in term of know vs. need to know (Reality vs. Ideal)

Insert survey results.

Existing Efforts to Address these Gaps

Insert efforts of student centered instruction compared to traditional methods of instruction.

Page 228

Analysis of the Learner and Context

Who are the stakeholders for this course?

Educators Graphic.jpg

The stakeholders of this course will range from students aspiring to become teachers, pre-service teachers, teachers, administrators and other pathway that impacts the educational process. Educators that are seeking new methods, approaches, and strategies of creating a more engaging and purposeful learning environment will benefit from what this course will offer. Educators that believe in the benefits of providing students the opportunity to take learning into their own hands and experience a unique learning environment that incorporates the 21st century desired skills of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, will learn practical methods of infusing these attributes within their academic disciplines.

Any student that enrolls in this course should demonstrate an open mind to the strategies used to pique the interest and motivate students within any learning environment. This course is ideal for any educator, regardless of experience. As time progresses, the educators within the field must be open to the ever changing world that surrounds education, ranging form society as a whole to technological advancements.

What is the primary goal of this course?

The primary goal of this course is to shift the mindset of educators in valuing the implementation of the four 21st century desired skills, changing the idea that education is not a mundane and repetitive cycle, but a platform or opportunity to relate the material to personal experiences while constructing knowledge with other stakeholders within the learning environment.

How will the course instruction be delivered?

All of the content for this course will be delivered thought an e-learning environment, in other words online. This provides the student access to the course at all hours of the day using an array of resources that they have at their disposal. Students will be encouraged to craft meaningful responses as they will have an ample amount of time to generate contributions to the course discussions and assignments. The main resource that will be needed is an electronic device that has a word processing application and ability to connect to the internet. Finally, the amount of time that students should spend in successfully completing the course should be approximately twelve (12) weeks as there are six (6) modules.

Performance-Based Objectives

After the completion of this mini-course, the stakeholders of this course will be able to:

  • Create engaging lessons that allow the students the opportunity to exhibit creative approaches to problem-solving or conveying their ideas.
  • Demonstrate perspective by conducing self-assessments and reflections on the learning environment that the teacher has created. Provoking thoughtful questions such as; Are students engaged? Are they understanding the material? Do the instructional methods being used relate to the student and motivate the stakeholders within the classroom?
  • Formulate strategies of facilitating effective communication between the learners within the learning environment. Implementing the strategies will require that the teacher knows the stakeholders within the learning environment and encourages students not only to understand the material but demonstrate the ability to defend their thought process by supporting their response with evidence and justification.
  • Compare and contrast the impact that collaboration and communication have on the learning environment by generating a presentation.
  • Reflect and comment on their personal experiences within the learning environment and how they could have changed and constructed lesson plans while focusing on the elements of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking skills. Students will compose an analysis and reflection of existing or newly created lesson plans, appraising the quality of the lessons and how they infused the elements mentioned above within the learning process.

Task and Content Analysis

Pre Req Graphic.png


Prior to enrolling in this course, the learner should:

Knowledge (Cognitive Learning Domain):

  • Have an understanding that there are areas in the educational process that can be modified.
  • Be aware that there are different approaches that teachers implement within their learning environments.
  • Recognizes that the learning environments are affected by all of the stakeholders included.

Skills (Psychomotor Learning Domain):

  • Distinguishes the difference of a teacher-centered approach and a student-centered approach.
  • Have designed and developed their own lesson plans.
  • Be cognizant about the necessity of evaluating and planning revisions for lesson improvements.

Attitudes (Affective Learning Domain):

  • Verify their stance on education as well as their style of teaching.
  • Modify and reflect on lesson plans and how those plans were executed with a classroom of students.
  • Display the outlook of the future of education and the needs that society poses.

Module 1: Introduction to Essential Skills to Foster an Effective Learning Environment

At the conclusion of this module, the learner:

  • Will be able to analyze and identify pivotal components of the learning environment that they have created in their classrooms. (Cognitive Learning Domain)
  • Will exhibit the ability to modify and revise their strategies when taking into consideration the desired skills that are advocated for the 21st century learner. (Psychomotor Learning Domain)
  • Will formulate their stance in regard to implementing the desired 21st century learner skills. (Affective Learning Domain)

Module 2: Communication

At the conclusion of this module, the learner:

  • Will display the ability to categorize and compose strategies of facilitating effective communication between the learners within the learning environment. (Cognitive Learning Domain)
  • Will initiate in a small group activity focuses on the skill of communication within the learning environment. Learners will compose a series of pen pal letter to one another, constructing knowledge revolving around communication skills. (Psychomotor Learning Domain)
  • Will relate their prior experiences to the benefits and challenges that increased communication within the learning environment yields. (Affective Learning Domain)

Module 3: Collaboration

At the conclusion of this module, the learner:

  • Will critique and defend various benefits and challenges of implementing collaborative approaches within the learning environment. (Cognitive Learning Domain)
  • Will create a collaborative presentation comparing and contrasting the characteristics of the skills of collaboration and communication. (Psychomotor Learning Domain)
  • Will identify and integrate strategies and outlooks when infusing communication skills within the learning process and learning environment. (Affective Learning Domain)

Module 4: Creativity

At the conclusion of this module, the learner:

  • Will be able to design and develop lessons that engage students and support individual creativity when solving problems or creating responses. (Cognitive Learning Domain)
  • Will demonstrate the ability to construct multiple pathways of potential student submissions with the option of students generating original ideas for their submission that align with course standards. (Psychomotor Learning Domain)
  • Will formulate a stance of creative approaches and encourage creativity within the learning process. (Affective Learning Domain)

Module 5: Critical Thinking

At the conclusion of this module, the learner:

  • Will be able to identify the different levels of critical thinking strategies within the learning environment. (Cognitive Learning Domain)
  • Will be able to assemble revisions on prior experiences where the learning process could have elevated opportunities of critical thinking to align with Higher Order Thinking Strategies. (Psychomotor Learning Domain)
  • Will be able to question and propose various strategies that enhance the learning environment, ultimately generating a positive stance on emphasizing the significant of critical thinking skills throughout the learning process. (Affective Learning Domain)

Module 6: Wrap-Up

At the conclusion of this module, the learner:

  • Will evaluate and critique existing lesson plans, offering input regarding strengths and weaknesses when focusing on the desired 21st century skills. Students will also have the opportunity to draw conclusions solidified within the course with a traditional essay focusing on a similar theme if they choose that path. (Cognitive Learning Domain)
  • Will have the opportunity to compose a reflection of their personal experiences within the learning environment and how they could have changed and constructed a more engaging lesson that aligns with the desired 21st century skills. (Psychomotor Learning Domain)
  • Will select and share moments within the course and their personal experiences that have shifted their mindset in regard to infusing the desired 21st century skills within their learning environment. (Affective Learning Domain)

Curriculum Map

ETAP 623 Curriculum Map NG.png

References and Resources

  •  C1 Doron. (2017). Fostering creativity in school aged children through perspective taking and visual media based short term intervention program. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 23, 150–160.