Get Your Geek On: Self-Reflection

Reflective Practice using ARTiD by Tracy Wilson

This discussion post will explore reflective practice.  The specific model that I will expound upon is Assessing Reflective Thinking in Solving Design Problems, or ARTiD (Hong & Choi, 2015).  I will address strengths and weaknesses related to my professional and interpersonal skills regarding reflective thinking.  Lastly, I will express my thoughts about how I intend to practice good self-reflection and become more self-aware.

Summary of ARTiD

            Hong and Choi (2015) addressed reflective thinking with the use of a tool called Assessing Reflecting in Solving Design Problems, abbreviated as ARTiD.  The tool is a fourth-version questionnaire for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  It is a valid and reliable instrument for introspection surrounding research designs.  Hong and Choi (2015) recommended using supplemental research methods in conjunction with ARTiD, but based on the research, the tool appears sound.

            The model is three-dimensional and uses timing reflection, objects of reflection, and levels of reflection (Hong & Choi, 2015).  Specifically, ARTiDl allows the students to look at the design stages and design periods, focusing on goals, information gathering, defining the problem, finding solutions, evaluating solutions, and then making decisions (Hong & Choi, 2015).  It also allows them to reflect during the early, middle, and late stages of design (Hong & Choi, 2015).  Additionally, ARTiD permits self-reflection based on knowledge, experiences, feelings, and external materials, such as “stakeholders” and “contexts” (Hong & Choi, 2015, p.  850). 

ARTiD and Me

            The reason I chose this reflective practice model is because it involves not only personal introspection, but also understanding research designs.  ARTiD also promotes effective teaching and learning (Hong & Choi, 2015), which is particularly important for me as an Educational Psychologist.  Using this model will help me reflect and refine my teaching methods.

ARTiD is applicable in my life both personally and academically.  For example, question 12 in section III addresses inaccuracies of personal beliefs and to what extent students discover those  (Hong & Choi, 2015, p.  862).  Ruscio (2006) makes it clear that personal opinions and beliefs have no place in scientific research.  Still, everyone has a belief system.  Reflecting on those beliefs allows me to remain open-minded.  ARTiD assists with that.

The ARTiD instrument helps me decide what goals I should set and how to evaluate them.  It even presents questions about budgeting and ethics.  The aforementioned are important to me as a researcher and a human being.  I want to be an ethical, compassionate individual as well as an exceptional teacher.  Therefore, reflective practice using the ARTiD method will help me work through challenges and find answers, allowing me to grow as a person and an educator.

Personal Strengths and Shortcomings

            Just like everyone else, I have strengths and shortcomings.  Knowing what my weaknesses are will help me find solutions.  I am usually good at making decisions.  I have discovered, nonetheless, that I make decisions based on availability heuristics.  As indicated by Ruscio (2006), this is not always negative, but when it comes to research and science it can be detrimental. 

I am my own worst critic.  The ARTiD tool provided solutions for that shortcoming.  Question number six in section IV asks me to reflect upon whether or not my strategies efficiently help me reach the identified goal (Hong & Choi, 2015).  Reflective practice is helping me see that being so self-critical does not serve a positive purpose.  It only impedes the desired outcome.

Professionally speaking, I have several strengths.  I engage well with others and am highly organized.  However, I lack the skills needed to conduct research.  I do not have any experience designing experiments, collecting data, and calculating that data.  By engaging in active self-reflection and continuing in the doctoral program, I can develop the skills needed for combating such a weakness.

Planning for Self-Reflection

            There are several ways that I can plan for self-reflection more often than I do now.  One of those ways includes learning more about reflective practices.  I was not aware of the dynamics of reflective practice until reading and researching for this unit. 

I am fairly certain that I engage in reflective practice all of the time, but I need to become much better at it.  I usually look at my behavior at a surface-level and then strive toward making positive changes.  My husband accuses me of over-analyzing things.  Constructively reflecting should be the goal, and when I get caught up with daily life, it is hard to make time for reflective practice.  Therefore, I will have to carve out time to engage in meaningful self-reflection.   

Planning for Self-Awareness

            Observing my own behavior on a deeper level is not necessarily easy.  Psychological reasoning biases play a part in everyone’s life, and whether it is confirmation bias or heuristics, it is important to look at ways of modifying negative thinking and behavior.  Reflecting on my reactions and thought processes will help me become self-aware.  Moreover, determining the lesson I should take away from a situation will help me grow. 

            I cannot change the outcome of some situations, but for the situations where change can occur, becoming self-aware can teach me what problem-solving strategies work and which ones do not.  As I stated in the above mentioned, I must make time for reflection.  Without quieting my mind and considering the precipitating circumstances along with the outcome, it will not be possible for me to attain self-awareness, thus impeding personal and professional development. 

Conclusion

             In summary, exploring the reflective process through the Assessing Reflective Thinking in Solving Design Problems, or ARTiD (Hong & Choi, 2015), has helped me become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses.   I have presented thoughts about how I plan to practice good self-reflection and become more self-aware with the ultimate goal of achieving growth and success in all areas of my life.

References

Hong, Y., & Choi, I.  (2015).  Assessing reflective thinking in solving design problems:  The

development of a questionnaire.  British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(4), 848-863.  doi:  10.1111/bjet.12181

Ruscio, J. (2006). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

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Get Your Geek On: Critical Thinking Practice

Critical Thinking Practice by Tracy Wilson

This post will discuss an article written by Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015).  The main idea of the article will be explored and analyzed.  Problems with methodology, and the results of the study will be explained.  Finally, errors, disagreements, and areas for further research will be covered in this discussion post.

Compelling Points

An article featured in Research in Learning Technology (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox, 2015) proposes a framework for blended learning curriculum design.  The major points in the article were made in a somewhat compelling manner.  Due to the type of methodology the researchers used, the study lacked a convincing tone.  The methodology will be discussed later in this post, but it directly impacts the persuasiveness of the article.

RASE Model

The RASE model was the main point of the article (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox, 2015).  The model supports a student-centered approach to blended learning (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox, 2015).  According to Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015), RASE stands for resources, activities, support, and evaluation.  Essentially, the model provides resources for students, activities that promote the acquisition for multiple skills, support for learners, and structured assessments allowing educators to monitor progress (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox, 2015).

Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015) provided a clear break-down of the model, and then each section of the article expounded upon the model.  The researchers argued that using the RASE model provided a unambiguous structure for blended learning implementation (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox, 2015).  The authors presented the model using an authoritative, believable tone.   

Problems with Methodology

            The methodology used by Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015) is problematic.  A simple online database search served as the primary foundation for the tools proposed by the researchers.  Thereafter, they chose only eight undergraduate participants for the study, breaking them into two separate groups.  Although they used students in varying disciplines, the sample size is too small to apply the results to the general population. 

Findings

            The findings of the research study are based on qualitative measures.  The article did not offer a discussion section, but rather a single paragraph merely restating the research.  It did not offer in-depth solutions.  The summarization was supported with interviews as well as the literature from various databases, so the conclusion was as authentic as it could be given those circumstances. 

Errors and Disagreement

            Using Ruscio’s (2006) book as a best-practice guide, the decisions and conclusions presented in the article are similar to the clinical approach in Critical Thinking in Psychology.  According to Ruscio (2006), the clinical approach to research offers “nothing more sophisticated than using unaided human judgment to evaluate available information and arrive at a decision” (p.  171).  Because the researchers used databases searches and the research of others to formulate their assertions, their work appears wholly opinion-based. 

The methodology is the primary problem with the study.  Comparing and contrasting the work of others does not lend valid solutions.  It presents an argument with no foundational evidence.  Furthermore, the small sample size makes it impossible to apply any of the findings to the general population.  The research does not account for cultural and gender differences, nor does it account for faculty involvement.

Ruscio (2006) points out that a statistical approach to research involves mathematical calculations.  Without the use of quantitative methods, the article falls short.  While the article does an adequate job of presenting the opinions of eight students, it does not provide much more than that.    

            Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015) failed to offer any new information that could be useful to administrators or faculty members striving to implement blended learning.  The authors indicated that blended learning is different than online learning by virtue of design and delivery (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox, 2015), which is a moot point.  No argument exists regarding the definition.  Most researchers agree that blended learning is supplemental to face-to-face delivery and in-class interactions (Porter, Graham, Spring, & Welch, 2014).  There is no reason to include such a distinction.  

            Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015) felt that by providing their framework for blended learning, teachers could formulate activities.  However, the information presented is rooted in the students’ perspective.  There are no guidelines or noteworthy suggestions for educators.  Once again, the teacher is left to his or her own devices, perpetuating the inconsistency of blended learning. 

Unanswered Questions

            Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015) explained that there were deficits in their research, leaving many questions unanswered.  The research should have included faculty members (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox 2015) as well as a larger number of student participants.  If faculty members would have been included, the stages of blended learning could have been thoroughly explored, general practices could have been identified, and possible improvements could have been found. 

            Future studies should include professional development resources (Mirriahi, Alonzo, & Fox, 2015).  Still, without a reliable framework, that may not be possible.  Nonetheless, the gap allows for further exploration about how faculty development can improve the implementation of blended learning. 

Conclusion

The article written by Mirriahi, Alonzo, and Fox (2015) strives to provide a clear model of blended learning.  Nonetheless, their methodology for data collection affects the reliability of their findings.  Without a larger sample size and the inclusion of educators, the research appears skewed.  On the other hand, there are areas for further exploration, which may improve the overall outcome for blended learning implementation.           

References

Mirriahi, N., Alonzo, D., & Fox, B.  (2015).  A blended learning framework for curriculum

design and professional development.  Research in Learning Technology, 23(1), 1-14.  doi:  10.3402/rlt.v23.28451

Porter, W., Graham, C., Spring, K., & Welch, K.  (2014).  Blended learning in higher education: 

Institutional adoption and implementation.  Computers and Education, 75, 185-195.  doi:  10.1016/j.compedu.2014.02.011

Ruscio, J. (2006). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

When You Aren’t Wonder Woman

Hello peeps.  The last time I posted something personal, I discussed beginning my Ph.D. program.  I’m two quarters in, and I can’t juggle everything.  I receive two job offers this summer, so I am now teaching at the university I have been with since 2015 and an additional college.  That’s four days of work a week, plus grading and other essential functions.  Besides that, I’m a wife and mom.  I’m a friend and a daughter.  In order to prioritize, the Ph.D. has to be put on hold.  I’m okay with that.  After all, I want my family and friends to remember me for spending time with them, not for having a nose in a book (which is what I have done all summer).  Things may change between here and the first of the year, but I highly doubt it.  I am going back to my first love:  fiction.  I miss writing fiction more than I can even explain.  So, I am already picking up where I left off with my Between Worlds Series.

There are a few more weeks of scheduled posts coming, and then I will post this quarter’s work, but thereafter, it’s back to fictional writing and posting for me.  I am NOT Wonder Woman.  As much as I would like to be able to handle three jobs (I was also given a teaching assistant position for the Ph.D. program), being a wife, a mom, spending time with my family and friends, fitting appointments in there, and trying to find time to sleep, I can’t.  Something has to go.  For me, it’s the quest for higher education.  However, that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to it.  It may just be temporary.

So, thanks for reading my scholarly stuff!  Fiction will be on the way very soon!

Best,

Tracee

Get Your Geek On: Problem Statement

Problem Statement:  Blended Learning by Tracy Wilson

Blended learning has become popular in institutions of higher learning (Alammary, Sheard, & Carbone, 2014).  Despite the plethora of information available for blended learning designs and implementation practices, learning outcomes have not been explored adequately.  The research surrounding learning activities, technology, and overall student success provides a firm foundation.  Without further study, it will be difficult to determine how effective blended learning is and how it contributes to learning outcomes.  In fact, the only way to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of blended learning is through examining approaches, deciding upon learning objectives, exploring student satisfaction, investigating retention, and analyzing student achievement (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004).

According to an article written by Tseng and Walsh (2016), blended learning addresses diverse learning styles, creating a very positive situation for students.  Because blended learning is designed for individual learning needs, the flexibility allows learners to take charge of their own education (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).  However, research is lacking regarding student motivation and its influence on blended learning instruction.

Delivery methods are extremely important to the blended learning model, but more exploration is needed regarding design specifications and student learning incentives (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).  In other words, blended learning might work, but delivery methods must be planned according to the desired learning outcomes.  Therefore, it is imperative that educators consider meaningful course components (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).  Finding a user-friendly design might have a direct impact on student motivation and achievement, but without research, this cannot be known.

Understanding the student’s current level of knowledge is essential for blended learning delivery, proposed outcomes, and general design (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011).  Information exists to spotlight the positive aspects of blended learning, especially plasticity, cost effectiveness, and the emphasis on learning as opposed to teaching (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011).  More information is needed, nonetheless, as to whether blended learning helps the student acquire new skills, which can contribute to their achievement (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011).

On one hand, some students may already feel empowered when entering a course.  On the other hand, if a student feels burdened by the course, perhaps blended learning could contribute to student engagement, thereby allowing for positive outcomes in student learning and success.  For example, if the course is a required introductory course, the educator may be met with opposition because it is a general education requirement.  The student may feel that the course is a waste of time.  However, blended learning may serve as the catalyst for bringing those students to the table and encouraging them to contribute to their learning experience.  To make a determination about the aforementioned, more research is required.

Blended learning has many positive aspects, but there are also negative aspects as well.  Students find collaborative activities to be especially useful, but they have problems with the workloads and self-directed learning (Vaughan, 2014).  In addition, most blended learning courses have a technological component that provide opportunities for the collaborative activities the students enjoy (Vaughan, 2014).  The technology is meant to encourage positive learning outcomes and student perceptions of blended learning.  However, the effectiveness of digital technology has mixed reviews.  Therefore, studying digital technologies and the type of technologies used will help determine which methods provide the best platform for learning outcomes and student success.

In conclusion, blended learning appears promising.  Still, designs and implementation is not enough.  Understanding student motivations and perceptions are essential for crafting blended learning designs that empower students to collaborate and to take charge of their own learning.  Also, finding the right technological applications to supplement face-to-face learning must be explored.  While the research in the above mentioned areas may seem daunting, it will be necessary for fine-tuning existing models.  More exploration will also help educators prepare graduates to enter the workforce.

Reference

Alammary, A., Sheard, J., & Carbone, A.  (2014).  Blended learning in higher education:  Three

different design approaches.  Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(4),

440-454.  doi:  10.14742/ajet.693

Garrison, D., & Kanuka, H.  (2004).  Blended learning:  Uncovering its transformative potential

in higher education.  Internet and Higher Education, 7, 95-105.  doi:  10.1016/j.iheduc.2004.02.001

Lopez-Perez, M. V., Perez-Lopez, M., & Rodriguez-Ariza, L. (2011).  Blended learning in

higher education:  Students’ perceptions and their relation to outcomes.  Computers & Education, 56, 818-826.  doi:  10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.023

Tseng, H., & Walsh, E. (2016).  Blended versus traditional course delivery:  Comparing

students’ motivation, learning outcomes, and preferences.  The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 17(1), 43-52.  Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/24595866/

Vaughan, N. (2014).  Student engagement and blended learning:  Making the assessment

connection.  Education Sciences, 4, 247-264.  doi:  10.3390/educsci4040247

 

Get Your Geek On: Writing Skills

Accessing Your Writing Skills

This discussion post will explore the writing assessment I took in the Writing Center as well as what I have learned in this course thus far.  Also, I will explore the feedback from Dr. Secrest for the assignment in Unit 4 and the specific aspects of writing from the feedback I have received from Smarthinking.

Self-Assessment

I received an “adequate” rating on my writing assessment.  I hoped it would be more than adequate given that I taught English Composition and Argumentative Composition for two years.  Although I clicked “often” for each question, the results were still the same.  However, I think writing can always be improved.  It is an organic process and involves life-long learning (Ryan, 2011).

Experiences in 8002

I have learned a great deal about my writing based on the course experiences thus far.  I consistently struggle with citations.  I tend to fall short in that area, even if the mistakes are small.  I utilized APA when I was in graduate school, but that was six years ago.  As an English instructor, the department wanted me to focus on MLA.  When I began teaching for Social Sciences, APA was preferred.  I am still brushing up my skill set, however.  

            Another weakness has been with providing enough examples.  At times my writing has also lacked specificity.  I tend to write long posts.  To avoid that, I began cutting details.  This was not a good strategy.  So, I have used the feedback to fine-tune the content.

            Dr. Secrest gives excellent guidance.  I take the information and apply it immediately.  I know that revised discussion posts do not count toward a grade, but it allows me to take the recommendations and immediately apply the skills.  After all, the point of learning is to realize mistakes and make changes thereafter.

                                                                                              Unit 4 Assignment Feedback

            I have learned so much about my writing from the feedback for the Unit 4 assignment.  The common theme, again, was citations.  Though they were simple mistakes, there is no such thing when it comes to working toward a doctorate.  To be taken seriously, the composition must be perfect. 

          The first citation mistake involved failure to put the author’s name as well as the year after a sentence with statistical information.    Because I have utilized MLA more in the last two years than ever before, I know that is why I made this mistake.  I did not double check the APA manual.  I will not make that mistake again. 

The second citation mistake I made was that I placed parentheses around the volume number of an article.  I knew better, but I did not catch the mistake before turning it in.  I believe it was a simple case of being blind to my own errors. 

            I also made a usage error.  Instead of using “breaches,” I used “breeches.”  Even though this is a common mistake, it is also something I should have caught. 

            As far as holistic evaluation of the assignment, I needed to compare the results of the databases I used.  I also needed to provide examples of how I applied the criteria for evaluating validity and reliability.  Once again, the lack of examples plagues me.  I am learning my lesson, however. 

                                                                                                 Smarthinking

            I began using Smarthinking during Unit 3.  The first submission was my reflective discussion post in that unit.  The feedback I received was quite useful.  What was the common theme?  There were no examples.  I was cutting down content, and in doing so, I was losing the meat of my discussion.  So, I am working diligently to correct that.

            I was also encouraged to use more source information.  In other words, the evaluation indicated that I needed to take information directly from sources and back up my claims.  In an effort to critically think, I was missing the point.  I still needed to rely on sources to provide adequate evidence and justification for creating information in my discussions.

Conclusion

Applying the feedback that I have received has been very helpful.  Using the assessment from the Writing Center as well as the feedback from Dr. Secrest and Smarthinking is helping me become a proficient, scholarly writer.  Human error is normal, but as a doctoral learner I cannot afford that in my writing.  It diminishes my credibility and expertise.  I will keep making changes.  I will continue to utilize feedback for the purposes of perfecting my skills, and I will utilize the tools from Dr. Secrest and the university to do so. 

References

Ryan, M.  (2011).  Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic

perspective.  Teaching In Higher Education, 16(1), 99-111. 

doi:10.1080/13562517.2010.507311

Get Your Geek On: Assistance

Accessing Assistance on the Doctoral Journey by Tracy Wilson

This discussion will focus on my confidence level in coursework and dissertation.  I will also talk about my apprehension regarding the comprehensive exam.  Additionally, I  will discuss my willingness to ask for help when necessary and the sources I will use to seek help.

Confidence

            The doctoral process presents challenges at every level.  However, I am most confident with coursework, writing (discussion boards, papers, and dissertation), and residencies.  The reason why I am confident in most of the coursework is because I was a distant learner at the University of North Dakota.  The experience in graduate school taught me a great deal about expectations and time management. 

Writing has always been easy for me, but I attribute that to wonderful high school teachers and undergraduate mentors who gave valuable feedback.  During graduate school, writing requirements were rigorous.  I have also practiced my writing skills in all of my jobs, especially child welfare.  I was required to complete precise, clinical dictation to meet the State’s requirements.  Teaching and fictional writing have also reinforced my writing skills. 

I was required to complete an on-campus residency for my graduate program.  I flew to Grand Forks, North Dakota for the last two weeks of my program.  I enjoyed meeting my cohort group and the faculty.  Traveling to a new place was an added perk.  Therefore, I am looking forward to the residency requirements for Capella.

My comfort level for all of the aforementioned also comes from being able to work well independently.  I use a weekly planner to stay on track with assignments.  If I do not do this, I tend to run off the rails quickly.  In addition, I work ahead in case any unforeseen issues come up.

Concerns

            The statistics courses and the comprehensive exam fill me with anxiety.  As I have said before, I have significant weaknesses in math.  My experience with statistics in graduate school was not positive.  The instructor did not really teach us, so we had to navigate through the content individually or with our partner.  Luckily, my partner and I complemented one another, and we survived the course. 

            The comprehensive exam sounds straight-forward, but I have heard stories of folks getting through their coursework, reaching the comps, and then failing the re-take.  All of the sacrifice, time, effort, and money were for naught.  As I have emphasized already, failure is not an option for me.  I cannot justify going into debt for a program and then walking away empty-handed.  Although I am comfortable with writing, the endless tales of tragedy surrounding the comp exam makes me very apprehensive.

Asking for Help

            Self-sufficiency is an attribute, and I tend to be fairly self-reliant.  I have been told that I am driven, and when I set my sights on something, I am relentless.  Nonetheless, I know my limits.  I have already asked for help in this course, and I will continue to do so.  Reading Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006) has only reinforced my willingness to seek out supportive services.  I cannot use my personal beliefs, interpretations, and perceptions as a foundation in my field of study.  Ruscio (2006) makes it clear that evidence must be provided when stating claims.  Furthermore, I certainly do not know everything about Educational Psychology, which is why asking questions is and will continue to be imperative. 

Sources of Help

            In reviewing this unit’s studies, I found several useful tools.  I have already utilized them.  The first time I spoke with my enrollment advisor, I explained my concern about statistics.  She told me about the Smarthinking option.  I absolutely love it!  I use it for the discussion boards and the assignments, but I know I will use it in future courses, too.  An extra set of eyes helps catch things that I miss, and sometimes tutoring can clarify areas of confusion.  I did not have any prior experience with such a supportive tool, but I am very impressed thus far.

            Peers, advisors, facilitators, and faculty members serve as crucial sources of support.  As I listened to the testimonials surrounding the residencies (Capella University, 2017a), I was encouraged and realized I would not have to walk this road alone.  In addition, the tutorial about dissertations served as a great way to understand expectations, the process, and who would be available to provide assistance (Capella University, 2017a). 

            Fear of the unknown can often derail the most determined individuals.  With this in mind, I listened to the presentation about the comprehensive exam (Capella University, 2017b).  The explanation of time frames, expectations, and the overall process helped ease some of my anxiety.  The comprehensive exam manual also provides some reassurance, and knowing that I will have individuals available to support me helps provide some reassurance (Capella University, 2016).  Still, the prospect of not passing it frightens me.

Conclusion

The confidence level I have with coursework, writing, residencies, and time management will serve me well in this program.  My apprehension about the statistics courses will probably be set to rest when I try to pass my first one.  The same applies to the comprehensive exam.  Until I reach that point, I will likely remain fearful.  However, the tools offered by Capella provide a secure lifeline.  Reviewing the various materials available in this unit has given me hope.  The unit studies also provided answers to questions, making the doctoral path clearer.   

References

Capella University.  (2017a).  Residencies:  Your path to success  .  Retrieved from

http://capella.edu/landing_pages/colloquiaexperience/index.html

Capella University.  (2017b).  Welcome to the comprehensive examination .  Retrieved

from http//medida.capella.edu/NonCourseMedia/comps/welcome-comps-

exam/wrapper.asp

Capella University.  (2016, October).  Capella University.  Retreived from   

http://www.capella.edu/iguidepa/pdf/academics/ComprehensiveExaminationManual.pdf

Ruscio, J.  (2006).  Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

Get Your Geek On: Topic Investigation Reflection

Learning from Topic Investigation by Tracy Wilson

This discussion will focus on how I completed my investigation of blended learning for Assignment 1.  I will describe what I learned from the research, how the assigned text helped me analyze the sources, and what I would have done differently.

The Investigation

    I began the assignment with a central topic (blended learning).  I then chose to type in keywords into PsycINFO, PsycJOURNALS, and Psychology Database.  I filtered the results using the tools in the library.  I used the peer-reviewed articles tool, the source type, subject, and classification. 

    After a close examination of the titles, I moved onto the abstracts.  Thereafter, I looked at the entire article, specifically searching for literature reviews, reliable data collection, and conclusions that supported my question. 

For Assignment 1, I chose the articles that delved deeply into my topic of interest and that left room for further research.  When I found keywords like “further research is needed” or “more exploration is required,” I set those articles aside for additional examination. 

The Process

    I learned a great deal from this process.  There were several discoveries that I made, most of all that the practice I am using in the classroom is researched, but mostly that more research is needed.  For example, in the article written by Graham, Woodfield, and Harrison (2012), I discovered that many institutions are trying to adopt blended learning, but they are at different phases of the process.  The article enlightened me regarding my place of employment and where they are in the process.   

Some universities are in the first phase, which is in the “awareness/exploration” phase (p.  11).  Most of the classes at the university where I teach are strictly traditional, providing lectures and standardized testing as a means of assessing achievement. 

The ultimate goal is to reach the third stage of implementation, which is “mature implementation and growth” (p.  11).  The third stage means that blended learning is integrated heavily into the curriculum, and constant improvements are being made to the programs.  Additionally, the improvements are driven by data collection and re-revaluation procedures. 

All three of the phases mentioned in Graham, Woodfield, and Harrison’s (2012) article began at the faculty level.  In other words, an instructor saw something that may be better for student outcomes and looked at implementation.  Still, there are barriers with policies, a significant lack of support for blended learning, and noteworthy benefits are not being seen on a large scale (p.  11).  I believe this can be changed. 

Sense and Nonsense

The information in Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006) helped me decide what articles were worth reading and which ones were not.  I used Chapter Five to avoid untrustworthy authorities, going deeper into the methodology and data collection.  I searched for fallacies, self-proclaimed knowledge, and expertise.  If I found multiple articles by the same author(s), I took note of that, but I also looked for validity.  As I have noted before, and a point that Ruscio (2006) emphasizes in the text, just because something is popular does not mean that it is credible. 

    I used to think that experience served as a viable foundation for all things.  Chapter Six of Ruscio’s (2006) book taught me that I have been dreadfully wrong.  Using all of the sections in the sixth chapter helped me avoid articles that focused primarily on beliefs without foundations.  Also, if the article brought up situations that had absolutely no foundation in theory, I tossed it based on this week’s readings.  I adhered very closely to the lessons in Ruscio’s (2006) book to safeguard against foolish assumptions and flawed logic.

Do-Overs

    As I reflect on the research process, I would not change my approach.  Utilizing the tools available through the library helped me avoid problems with validity and reliability.  The peer-review tool is an excellent safety-net. 

As for the writing, I cannot think of anything I would have done differently.   My writing is guided by the research, and I work strictly from an outline.  It helps me create a coherent assessment of findings.  The outline also allows me to see where the research is lacking. 

The goal of any assignment is to think critically about the findings and move beyond what is known.  Thus, I discovered that I need to dig deeper into the research about blended learning.  I want to employ evidence-based practices in my teaching styles to improve student outcomes.  Finding gaps will help me fill in those blanks with my own sound, credible research.     

Conclusion

    I enjoyed Assignment 1.  The evidence involving blended learning implementation, perceptions, assessment, and success empowered me to find out more.  In addition, I want to know if a transfer of learning component has been integrated into the current models.  However, finding research regarding the transfer of learning component is challenging.  Nonetheless, it is providing an opportunity to fill in that gap with my own theory and research.  I am looking forward to the challenge.  In the meantime, this assignment has taught me how to look at articles with skepticism and try to find literature with foundations in empirical, primary research involving a peer-review process.

References

Graham, C., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. (2012).  A framework for instructional adoption and

          implementation of blended learning in higher education.  Internet and Higher Education,

          18, 4-14.  doi:  10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.003

Ruscio, J. (2006). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

          Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.