Roger Wistar's Portfolio Page



The purpose of this page is to chronicle the development of my mini-course. You can see sections below covering each part of the development process.

Development work

Week 4: Choose a topic

I have selected "Effective use of self-paced learning in the classroom environment" for my topic, because it relates closely to the style of teaching that I use in my computer courses. I would like to learn more about how to better employ self-paced instruction in my classes, and also give advice to other teachers in similar situations.

Week 6: Needs Analysis

Intent statement

The purpose of this mini-course is to give useful advice to teachers who are seeking to expand and refine their use of self-paced (SP) learning in their courses. I will probably restrict the course to teachers at the high-school level or above, since the skill sets of students and the models of instruction at the elementary and middle-school level are very different. The course will not focus on any particular discipline, however, so the instruction will focus on general aspects of SP learning, not any points that are specific to one subject. (There will probably be examples, however, that are discipline-specific.) The participants in this course will be teachers of high-school or college courses. The desired change is that teachers will incorporate more SP learning into their courses, and see greater overall retention of the material by their students.

Needs assessment strategy

  1. What kind of SP learning activities take place now?
    1. Information: specific examples of SP learning
    2. Sources: teachers at the school where I work
    3. Tools: interviews of specific teachers
  2. What kind of SP unit assessment tools are being used now?
    1. Information: specific examples of SP assessments
    2. Sources: teachers at the school where I work
    3. Tools: interviews of specific teachers
  3. What are the research benefits of SP learning?
    1. Information: data supporting SP learning
    2. Sources: scholarly articles
    3. Tools: research databases
  4. How can teachers design their own SP content?
    1. Information: a template for designing an SP unit
    2. Sources: books on self-paced ID, web research
    3. Tools: a word processor to create a template

Learner profile

  1. Age: 25-50
  2. Sex: male or female
  3. Educational level: Bachelor's degree or higher
  4. Achievement level: Any (beginners to experts)
  5. Prerequisite knowledge: None required, although prior teaching experience would probably be helpful
  6. Socioeconomic background: Any
  7. Learning style preferences: Visual learners (since they will be reading an online course)
  8. Motivation: Presumably high, at least in this particular topic
  9. Attitudes: Probably interested in curriculum development, but possibly unfamiliar with or not supportive of SP learning
  10. Expectations: Learners should expect to improve the quality of their instructional design efforts through SP learning

Context analysis

  1. What aspects of the instructional and support environments are critical to the success of your design? The physical factors of the context will probably not affect the overall quality of the learning in this mini-course. Apart from having a computer with an Internet connection (which would be required to take the course anyway), there is no special equipment required besides what teachers presumably already have for their own courses. Use factors will probably have more bearing on success, particularly the attitudes of the learners and the schools where they work. If the learners are resistant to the idea of SP learning, or if their schools do not support their exploration of this idea, then they will have a harder time being successful.
  2. What conflicts exist between categories that will affect the success of the design? Again, I think the biggest possible conflict might be between Student-user characteristics and Administrator characteristics. If teachers are interested in SP learning but their school does not support them, then they will likely be frustrated in their attempts to change their teaching practices.

Goals for the project

  1. Find good examples of SP learning that will encourage teachers to use it more in their own practices.
  2. Find solid research studies that demonstrate the value of using SP learning in high school and college courses.
  3. Find/create good guides for developing SP activities and assessments that teachers can use for their own ID work.

Week 7: Performance objectives

  • Teachers will choose to use SP learning more in the classes they teach by adding at least one SP unit to each class.
  • Teachers will adopt the SP philosophy of teaching in their classes by adding at least one major assessment to each class that allows their students to demonstrate the learning they have acquired in their SP units.
  • Teachers will be able to generate SP curriculum content for the classes they teach by creating units that allow their students a reasonable amount of autonomy for progressing through the material, while still establishing consistent performance standards.

Week 8: Task sequencing

The first part of this section of work is to identify the prerequisites for each of the target objectives identified in Week 7:

  • Teachers will choose to use SP learning more
    • Essential: identifies the SP-learning model and its characteristics
    • Supportive: chooses to accept the benefits of SP learning
  • Teachers will adopt the SP philosophy of teaching
    • Essential: discriminates between SP learning activities and other kinds of learning activities
  • Teachers will be able to generate SP curriculum content
    • Essential: generates individual concepts that combine to form a larger curriculum unit
    • Essential: demonstrates the ability to evaluate individual student performance by creating assessments that accurately measure a student's understanding of those concepts

The next step is to place these objectives in an instructional curriculum map (ICM). A PDF version of that map can be downloaded here: Media:Rwistar_Instructional_Curriculum_Map.pdf‎