Get Your Geek On: Professional Identity

Professional Identity by Tracy Wilson


The Career Planning Checklist (Capella University, 2016a) provides a wonderful resource for career preparation and projection.  I have taken many of the steps already outlined.  I explored the Career Center during orientation, and my enrollment advisor gave me information about career opportunities.

Within the first couple of weeks attending class, I joined the American Psychological Association (general membership) and Divisions 2 and 15.  Division 2 is specifically for teaching psychology.  Division 15 is the branch for educational psychology.  Because I live in a rural area, there are no local chapters or associations to join for my field of study.

Before I began my doctoral studies, I joined LinkedIn.  However, when I enrolled, I expanded my networking base.  I became a member of the Facebook Group for Capella as well.  I also joined the Educational Psychology Specialization group, the Psychology Club, and the PhD Sister’s Group at Capella.

I am already teaching Social Sciences.  Based on the information provided by the checklist (Capella University, 2016a), this will be beneficial in the entire career planning stages.  My position allows me to shadow colleagues and discuss plans, challenges, and aspirations.

In January, I volunteered to be an anchor for a project through the Education Department at the university where I work.  The project was called Reinforcing Student-Centered Classrooms at the College Level.  The workshop was held once a month for an hour.  The meetings allowed a small group of faculty members to come together and explore visible learning along with best-practice teaching models.  At our final meeting, we attended a presentation about metacognition.  The anchoring experience was enlightening and very valuable.

The last part of the checklist (Capella University, 2016a) that I have already completed is the Curriculum Vitae.  My department chair encouraged me to apply for a visiting professor’s position in April.  He made it very clear that the likelihood of being chosen was remote, but that the application process would show me how detailed materials had to be.  He was correct.  I was the only applicant, but because I do not have my Ph.D. yet, I could not be offered the position.  They have sense suspended their search for the vacancy.

The Unexplored

Based on the checklist (Capella University, 2016a), there were areas I have not considered, and therefore, are unexplored.  One of those areas is record keeping.  I have not yet developed a way to track contacts.  Fortunately, I have Microsoft Office on my computer.  I can add and track my contacts with an Excel spreadsheet.  Using the software will allow me to organize and retrieve names, phone numbers, and email addresses.

I was also unaware of the Competency Translator (Capella University, 2016b).  By consistently revising it, I can update my CV.  It also provides the opportunity for me to reflect on what I learn, skills I gain, and gaps where I can make improvements.

Although I constantly search for jobs, the tools in the Career Center were unfamiliar to me.  I have already bookmarked them on my computer.  I can easily pull up the saved websites and keep checking listings.  Searching job listings on a regular basis also helps me see what employers are looking for and what may be changing.

The portfolio was another aspect I was not aware of, and I love the concept!  I have already printed out my student evaluations from the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.  I intend to add them to my portfolio.  I have also included my teaching philosophy.  Additionally, I have included a “Thank You” card from the students in my Psychology 1101 class.

Action Steps

As I look ahead, I have developed a few action steps that will help me develop my professional identity.  One of those steps will be to utilize the Competency Translator (Capella University, 2016b).  Each class I take will be added to that list, along with skills and completed research.  I cannot even imagine what the list will look like by the time I am ready to graduate.

Another action step I will take is to continue searching for jobs.  I want to stay abreast of any changes in the field.  I want to be sure to stay up-to-date about what employers are looking for.  Furthermore, based on the job search results, I may have to relocate, so I want to be prepared for that.  The searches have revealed very little in my geographical area, but luckily the online teaching opportunities are becoming more prevalent, so moving may not be required.

Countless colleagues have also advised me to continually update my CV.  Anytime I complete a presentation or paper, I can use it for my CV.  My experiences as a teaching assistant with Capella will add to my skill-set, making me more marketable when I enter the workforce.  I already have my papers and discussion boards saved to a flash-drive.  I can easily access them and use the Competency Translator (Capella University, 2016b) as a guide for making my CV more robust and comprehensive.

In the years to come, I will continue my membership with the APA and the associated divisions.  Still, there are other affiliations I would like to explore.  The associations are excellent CV builders.  They provide viable research in their publications, and shine a light on various areas of research.  As a member of the APA, and other organization, I can attend conferences and network with other professionals.


This post has explored the use of many valuable tools provided by Capella.  Proactive, diligent reflection and re-evaluation are vital to professional development.  I have outlined the areas that I was not familiar with.  I also discussed steps I can take to build my professional identity.  The goal is to obtain a position to highlight my life’s work.  Through preparation, that goal can be achieved.


Capella University.  (2016, March).  Capella University.  Retrieved from

Capella University.  (2016, June).  Capella University.  Retrieved from


Get Your Geek On: Ethics

Ethics by Tracy Wilson

As I reviewed the studies presented in this unit, I tried to be surprised with the results.  However, I am not.  Working in child welfare showed me a side of humanity that I do not care to see again.  I saw depravity on so many levels.  So, to be surprised by the studies is difficult for me.  For example, the experiments conducted during World War II are utterly heartbreaking, but rather than being surprised, I am moved by the human indignity.  Still, I often wonder if the individuals who conducted the experiments truly believed they were making groundbreaking strides.  For instance, when Dr. Zimbardo was interviewed for a video entitled The Stanford Prison Experiment (2011), he admitted that during the experiment, he did not see anything wrong with what he was doing.  It was not until his girlfriend shed light on the situation, telling Dr. Zimbardo he was engaging in unethical, damaging activity.  Nonetheless, when Dr. Zimbardo completed a presentation for TEDTalks (2008), he showed a great deal of remorse for his experiment.


Why does dishonesty seem so widespread?  To answer this question, I looked at research, but I also know where I stand on the subject.  I believe that people are dishonest because they can be.  The lack of accountability is problematic.  I also think a person’s willingness to be dishonest goes back to familial influences.

According to an article written by Olafson, Schraw, and Kehrwald (2014), moral decline is correlated with dishonesty.  Also, their research showed that dishonesty is too widespread (Olafson, Schraw, & Kehrwald, 2014), giving credence to my claim that people are dishonest simply because they can be.  Further to that point is that peers actually encourage dishonesty (Olafson et al., 2014), which validates my assertion that there are familial factors at work, or in this case, social components driving dishonest behavior.

Roles and Responsibilities at Capella

Entering the Ph.D. program requires me to be a researcher.  I am charged with exploring subjects that can help the general population.  To do so, I must minimize risk and do no harm.  Although the research may be beneficial, I have to evaluate the danger to the research participants.

I will operate in accordance with the American Psychological Association Code of Conduct (2017) as well as Capella University’s (2016) research standards.  I will provide informed consent and ensure confidentiality of all test subjects.  I will present all of the dynamics of the research study both in writing and verbally.  I will act with integrity and ensure that all of the participants have the capacity to understand the experiment.

Utilizing the Standard Operating Procedures (Capella University, 2016) and engaging in Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) will allow me to create experiments with minimal risk.  In addition, I will be responsible for submitting my research plan to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval.  Because my research will consist of human subjects, I will need the approval of the IRB to proceed.  Working within the confines of their rules, I will ensure that my proposal is ethical regarding participant selection and that the risk to subjects is minimal.

Personal Values, Safeguarding against Ethical Dilemmas, & Unfair Judgments

It is not my place to judge others, so I accept all creeds, beliefs, orientations, religious practices, and so on.  Still, I value hard work and determination.  Therefore, I have a difficult time dealing with procrastinators and people who feel they are deserving of all concessions in classroom work.  I can see where my feelings in this area might be a problem.  For example, it frustrates me when students skip class and then want to make up a test.  In accordance with University policy, I require a doctor’s excuse.  Many of them come to me without one and still expect me to bend the rules for them.  I could judge those students harshly based on the situation.  I do not like that because I do my best to be accepting of everyone’s circumstances.  The aforementioned situation would not have bothered me ten years ago.  Sommers-Flanagan and Sommers-Flanagan (2007) point out, values change over time which means that judgments change, too. 

As I read Sommers-Flanagan and Sommers-Flanagan (2007), I realized that I possess another fault that could create problems.  I have always been someone who offers help to others. I tend to go above and beyond.  I always light the way for my students to take the path toward success. However, some of them do not.  I genuinely try to help them, but in doing so, I weaken them.  For instance, I tried to give opportunities for extra credit during my Psychology 1101 course, but the students who were flunking did not take advantage of the situation.  Ironically, the students with A’s and B’s achieved the extra credit goals.  My motivations were pure.  The hard lesson is that I have to allow my students to procrastinate and even fail.  When that happens, I have to resist making unfair judgments.  They have the freedom to choose success or failure.

Another situation I need to rectify is the fact that I share personal examples in lectures.  Again, my motivations are pure.  I want to show students how the things we discuss in class can be transferred to real-world situations.  According to Sommers-Flanagan and Sommers-Flanagan (2007), I need to be a little more cautious of this practice.  By sharing too much, I create an environment where my students can feel too comfortable.  I did not realize that this diminishes the professional boundary.

I intend to use sound research models with objective data collection and analysis practices to guard participants from unfair judgments.  Procedures can be utilized to shield students and participants.  Informed consent and protection against conflict of interest are two of the tools I will use.

Informed consent protects me from vulnerability as a practitioner, but most of all, it protects research subjects.  Providing informed consent will allow the participants to feel comfortable and fully understand the experiment.  They will be given the information regarding the research procedure and how long the study is expected to last.  Also, possible risks and benefits will be thoroughly explained and provided in writing.  Confidentiality will also be included.

Protection against a conflict of interest is very important.  As I said, most of my subjects will be students.  I will have to look outside of the school I teach for to find volunteers for the research.  My students and I have a wonderful rapport, but I would not want that relationship to cause problems.  In fact, it is imperative that I avoid multiple relationships.  It impairs my ability to be objective.


The burden I carry as a researcher comes with a cost if ethics are not respected.  Thankfully, there are guidelines put in place to protect me as well as participants.  Despite the fact that dishonesty seems to be running rampant, I do not have to fall victim to such a fate.  I can use the standards put in place by the American Psychology Association and Capella University to ensure experimental integrity.  Although I am sure I will face more ethical dilemmas in my lifetime, this class is helping me discover ways to deal with those roadblocks.


American Psychological Association.  (2017).  Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct.  Retrieved from

Capella University.  (2016, April).  Doctoral Programs.  Retrieved from

HeroicImaginationTV.  (2011, August 20).  The Stanford prison experiment [Video file].  Retrieved from

Olafson, L., Schraw, G., & Kehrwald, N.  (2014).  Academic dishonesty:  Behaviors, sanctions, and retention of adjudicated college students.  Journal of College Student Development, 55(7), 661-674.  doi:  10.1353/csd.2014.0066

Sommers-Flanagan, R., & Sommers-Flanagan, J.  (2007).  Professional identity development:  Values and definitions.  In Becoming an ethical helping professional:  Cultural and philosophical foundations (pp.  81-105).  Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.

Zimbardo, P.  (2008, February).  The psychology of evil [Video file].  Retrieved from

Get Your Geek On: Literature Review of Blended Learning

Literature Review by Tracy Wilson


Blended learning is a student-centered model that incorporates face-to-face instruction with supplemental online activities.  The question remains as to whether blended learning impacts learning outcomes.  Researchers are striving to answer that question, and in doing so, a common theme is emerging.  Collaborative activities, both in the classroom and online, create positive perceptions among students, which contribute to student success.  The learners’ upbeat opinion then contributes to the probability of meeting desired learning outcomes.  Nevertheless, there are challenges surrounding technology, and there are significant gaps in research.  Some of the gaps include understanding the students’ existing content knowledge, the learners’ general awareness, motivation, and, of course, learning outcomes.  Additionally, research is skeletal concerning blended learning with a transfer of learning component.  Instructional design still requires more study, and institutions need to decide upon best-practice models.  Even so, the current research for blended learning and student success presents promising results, paving the way for educators to evaluate learning outcomes, empower students, and prepare graduates for the workforce.

  Blended Learning:  A Literature Review

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 and transfer of learning have not been explored adequately.  The research surrounding learning activities, technology, and overall student success provides a firm foundation, but further study is required to determine how blended learning 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).

Instruction Designs, Implementation, and Learning Outcomes

Researchers are working very hard to provide a baseline to determine the effectiveness of blended learning.  Without a clear direction, understanding how to set goals for learning outcomes will be difficult.  The overall consensus is that blended learning encourages student success.  Student-centered learning lies at the heart of the blended learning concept, which is well received among both students and educators.

Blended learning implementation varies across disciplines.  Additionally, implementation practices differ among educators.  Conversely, in order to support student success and encourage learning outcomes, a model must be chosen, assessed, evaluated, and re-evaluated.  The implementation of blended learning should be thoughtful with varying delivery methods, learning principles, and instructional technology (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).

Blended learning allows instructors to choose various instructional strategies and add technologies that compliment the course structure and learning objectives (Tseng & Walsh, 2016). However, with the wide range of definitions and delivery methods, students do not have a clear and reliable understanding of blended learning (Porter, Graham, Spring, & Welch, 2014).  In fact, there is a significant relationship between features of blended learning design and the way students perceive learning (McNaught, Lam, & Cheng, 2012).  Although blended learning models do not have to be identical, collaboration between instructors, administrators, and students should be the goal for finding the most effective model (Porter et al., 2014).

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative activities used in blended learning have been highly praised by many researchers.  McNaught, Lam, and Cheng (2012) found that students who engaged in collaborative activities enjoyed the learning process more.  El-Mowafy, Kuhn, and Snow (2013) discovered that collaborative learning through online technologies allowed for students to self-reflect and practice skills.  Additionally, collaborative activities were essential for student engagement (Vaughan, 2014).  Wanner and Palmer (2015) found that collaborative learning inspired intrinsic motivation and choice.

Collaborative activities in a blended learning classroom range from technological collaboration to face-to-face activities.  They also include simulation activities, which can contribute directly to a transfer of learning (El-Mowafy, Kuhn, & Snow, 2013).  Collaborative learning applications support assessments as well (Vaughan, 2014).  For example, Vaughan (2014) explained that students who completed projects felt more involved with their own learning, encouraging the students to engage with the instructor as well as peers.

Vaughan (2014) also pointed out that activities such as blogging and journaling allowed the students to reflect on what they had learned.  The activities enabled the students to apply the knowledge to other courses, and eventually to their careers (Vaughan, 2014).  The collaborative activities provided an opportunity for educators to contribute to student success by choosing purposeful exercises to reinforce learning objectives (Vaughan, 2014).

Technology and Blended Learning

Nearly all blended learning models utilize technology.  Many studies have examined the effectiveness of technology as a supplement for face-to-face instruction.  Technology has propelled blended learning forward by providing flexibility and reinforcing a student-centered approach (Wanner & Palmer, 2015).  The teacher becomes a guide and uses technology to complement the in-class content (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, & Argente-Linares, 2013).  According to Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, and Argente-Linares (2013), “establishing a link between the use of technology and academic achievement is fundamental to investments in technology” (p.  627).  In other words, if the institution sees positive results, they will be more likely to invest in technologies that support blended learning.

Online activities help students understand course concepts and allow for an opportunity to test their knowledge (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, et al., 2013).  In the research conducted by Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, et al. (2013), students were able to learn at their own pace and received meaningful feedback from peers and instructors.  The feedback helped the students understand the facts presented in class (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, et al., 2013).  Also, students were able to test their understanding of course content based on the feedback provided (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, et al., 2013).  In general, instructor and peer responses aimed to teach the learner through a strength-based approach, encouraging the student to feel good about strengths while still addressing weaknesses.

Blended learning technologies encourage a transfer of learning and could also help with overall learning outcomes.  By incorporating technology into lectures and outside-class activities, the student can solidify their knowledge of theory and transfer the knowledge to practical applications and professional skills (El-Mowafy et al., 2013).  Furthermore, completing online activities allow the learner to develop important skills, such as reasoning, problem solving, and decision making (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, et al., 2013) that can be transferred to other classes and to on-the-job situations.

Student Success

Abundant research is available to indicate that blended learning has a direct impact on student success rates.  An article written by Lim and Morris (2009) explained that students were more satisfied in blended learning environments.  Additionally, students showed increases in learning when given opportunities to participate in classroom activities and then supplement those activities with online materials (Lim & Morris, 2009).  Moreover, the students could transfer their learning to jobs and professional situations, creating a much more meaningful learning experience.  Based on all of the current research, when learners feel that in-class content can be applied to the real world, they are more likely to be successful.

There are many other factors regarding student success and blended learning.  One of those factors is instructor quality (Lim & Morris, 2009).  If the students feel that their contact with the instructor is meaningful, student success increases (Lim & Morris, 2009).  Therefore, instructors must take time to prepare for class as well as the online activities.  They must encourage in-class interaction and examine what the students have learned (Eryilmaz, 2015).

Simulations activities and online exercises help students avoid feeling as if they are taking meaningless tests.  Assessments can be made without high-stakes testing (McNaught et al., 2012; Vaughan, 2014), which can lessen anxiety (Wanner & Palmer, 2015).  A student’s comfort level with blended learning can play a direct role in achievement.

Blended learning environments help students become successful by allowing for reflective practice (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011).  Self-reflection is meant to promote positive perceptions and to clarify goals (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011).  Success is imminent when a student can set goals.  They will feel encouraged by the control they have over their own learning.

Conclusion:  Gaps in Knowledge

The information already provided in this literature review shows many areas of agreement among researchers on the subject of blended learning and student success.  Nevertheless, there are gaps with learning outcomes and transfer of learning.  There are also problem-areas that need to be addressed.

In order for administrators to agree that blended learning offers significant benefits, an institutional definition must be established.  Strategy, structure, support for educators, and technological assistance should be integrated into the design and implementation of blended learning (Porter et al., 2014).  Smaller colleges have not been researched (Porter et al., 2014), therefore it is not possible to assess implementation and learning outcomes for that sector.  In addition, more research is required to investigate design specifications and implementation, especially specific course components (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).

Students come to the classroom with pre-existing skill sets.  They also come with pre-conceived notions about a blended learning course.  Assessing their knowledge-base and current understanding of the course content will provide a roadmap for course design (McNaught et al., 2012), allowing the instructor to focus heavily on learning outcomes.  Therefore, student performance and student characteristics must be studied.  For example, knowing whether or not the student is a high-achiever or low-achiever would be helpful for setting learning objectives.  In addition, pre-tests and post-tests may help assess skills and existing content knowledge.

According to Wanner and Palmer (2015), some students believe that blended learning courses require less work and fewer responsibilities.  However, the opposite is true.  Blended learning often involves in-class lectures, dialogue, small group assignments, large group activities, and discussions with the addition of supplemental material delivered online.  Also, quizzes, high-stakes tests, presentations, and essays fit into the mix.  The increased workload can often inhibit achievement (Vaughan, 2014).  Blended learning is more intensive than traditional learning, but if educators provide precise directions for all of the activities, lend support through each phase of the course, and provide beneficial feedback to encourage students who might become overwhelmed, learners can flourish in the blended learning classroom and learning goals can be achieved.

The use of technology in a blended learning course creates many hurdles.  Some students do not have adequate knowledge of technology, which can adversely impact their ability to accomplish course requirements (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez, et al, 2013).  Although online activities present limitless learning possibilities, the students who cannot navigate through the technical world can feel defeated.  Training would assist the students who are not comfortable with online activities.  Technology should be used to personalize learning, not to complicate it.

For learners who crave face-to-face interaction, the use of online technology can cause a rift between the instructor and the student (Lim & Morris, 2009).  For that reason, consistent communication is essential to heighten incentive.  When the students posts in a blog, it is vitally important for the instructor to provide a meaningful response and encourage interaction.  The effort will support motivation for future assignments.

It is very important that instructors and administrators understand the principles of motivation as well as how those principles influence learning (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).  Study habits, class attendance, and individual learning differences will help instructors understand how to motivate students (Lim & Morris, 2009).  Furthermore, implementation practices may suffer without a holistic understanding of motivation (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).  Many administrators fear that they are wasting their time with blended learning due to the lack of research (Tseng & Walsh, 2016).  Evaluative tools and a deeper look at motivational factors in relation to blended learning could dispel fears.

Learning outcomes have not been researched thoroughly (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011).  Without this research, it is not possible to encourage the use of blended learning.  If learning outcomes cannot be documented and tracked, the use of blended learning becomes futile.  Student perceptions will be useful for understanding how to conduct research concerning learning outcomes.  Additionally, monitoring the learners’ grades throughout the course as well as final grades can provide educators with a link to blended learning implementation and learning outcomes.

Students who sign up for required general education courses often enter the class begrudgingly, especially if they have no interest in the course content.  However, engagement can be achieved if the learners can clearly see that the content and assignments can be transferred to daily experiences and their careers.  Ultimately, the transfer of learning component provides purpose (Vaughan, 2014), which encourages the student to thrive in the class.

The purposeful nature of the transfer of learning component acts as a motivational tool.  The educators can also use the transfer of learning component to design the class with specific learning goals in mind.  The students and educators can then reach the desired learning outcomes.  Blended learning provides an ideal situation for a transfer of learning using face-to-face interactions, online activities, collaborative work, and peer and instructor feedback.  Still, the research is deficient regarding blended learning with a transfer of learning component and how that may contribute to learning outcomes.


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

El-Mowafy, A., Kuhn, M., Snow, T.  (2013).  Blended learning in higher education:  Current and future challenges in

surveying education.  Issues in Educational Research, 23(2), 132-150.  Retrieved from


Eryilmaz, M. (2015). The effectiveness of blended learning environments. Contemporary Issues in Education

     Research, 8(4), 251-256.  doi:  10.19030/cier.v8i4.9433

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

Lim, D., & Morris, M.  (2009).  Learner and instructional factors influencing learning outcomes within a blended

learning environment.  Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 282-293.  Retrieved from

Lopez-Perez, M., 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:


Lopez-Perez, M., Perez-Lopez, M., Rodriguez-Ariza, L., & Argente-Linares, E.  (2013).  The influence of the use of

technology on student outcomes in blended learning context.  Educational Technology Research and

     Development, 61(4), 625-638.  doi:  10.1007/s11423-013-9303-8

McNaught, C., Lam, P., & Cheng, K.  (2012).  Investigating relationships between features of learning designs and

student learning outcomes.  Educational Technology and Research Development, 60(2), 271-286.  doi:


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

and implementation.  Computers & Education, 75, 183-195.  doi:  10.1016/j.compedu.2014.02.011

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

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

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

Wanner, T., & Palmer, E.  (2015).  Personalising learning:  Exploring student and teacher perceptions about flexible

learning and assessment in a flipped university course.  Computers & Education, 88, 354-369.  doi:


Get Your Geek On: Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy

Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy by Tracy Wilson

This post will investigate Bloom’s taxonomy through three articles written by Diniburtun (2012), Neher (1991), and Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005).  Additionally, similarities and difference among those articles will be analyzed as well as mutual agreements among the readings and gaps that need to be addressed.

Key Ideas

What motivates people to achieve success?  Diniburtun (2012), Neher (1991), and Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005) sought out to answer this age-old question.  They dissected three major theories.

For Diniburtun (2012), David McClelland’s motivation theory was the key focus.  According to the article, some individuals are motivated by the triumph aspect of success.  Power also serves motivation, but not in a negative sense; they seek to change the world for the better.  Still others are motivated by positive social constructs, and through relationships they achieve success. 

McClleland’s model focused on three key concepts (2012).  The first was achievement motive, which is motivation based on a person’s need for success.  They are intrinsically motivated and will take on task that present the possibility for success.  However, they do not prefer situation that are overly difficult. 

The second concept is motivation through power (2012).  These personality types crave power and want to influence others in a direct way.  They want to change the world by offering a better way to do things.  These individuals have a high likelihood of becoming drunk on power, yet if they stay on course, they can become wonderful administrators.

Thirdly, is the type of motivation that comes from the need for inclusion (2012).  These individuals have a need to interact and have relationships.  Those relationships provide the motivation for success.  They are typically very friendly and are a wealth of support for others.

Neher (1991) focused on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and implied that needs drive behavior, which then provides motivation toward success.  The goal is to develop holistically toward self actualization.  Striving for more should motivate individuals passed the lower level needs.

In the article, Neher (1991) explains Maslow’s hierarchy, stating that basic need, such as food and water, come first.  Next is the need to feel safe.  Thirdly, a person must feel loved and engage in intimacy with others.  The fourth need is self-esteem.  Lastly, the person reaches his or her full potential when self actualization is reached.  This is the end-goal and represents the top of the pyramid in Maslow’s model.  The first, second, third, and fourth level is called “D needs” (1991).  They drive a person towards fulfillment.  However, the fifth need, self actualization, is a “B-need” (1991).  This means that the need maintains and drives the individual based on “deprivation,” not gratification (1991).

Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005) looked at Herzberg’s approach to motivation.  They examined dissatisfaction, satisfaction, and neutrality.  A finding that was somewhat surprising was that money did not motivate people in the work force.  Additionally, findings indicated that happy or unhappy employees were influenced by the work environment and all of the dynamics therein.

The motivators in this model take a two-pronged approach.  There are “work-hygiene factors” (2005) and motivations that sustain a person’s efforts.  At the most basic level, money is a hygiene factor for workforce motivation.  However, money does not provide motivation.  The reason why folks are dissatisfied is not because of money, but rather because of policies, administration, supervision issues, and general working conditions.

Similarities and Differences

Each theorist presents different findings to each research endeavor, but most of the time those findings overlap.  This is true with the authors in this literature review.  All three of the articles touched on success and motivation.  They also examined various social aspects of motivation and success.  Additionally, they address needs with various means of assessment.  

The differences between the articles were somewhat subtle.  The most pronounced difference was in Herzberg’s work because it focused entirely on motivation in the work force (Bassette-Jones & Lloyd, 2005).  Maslow and McClelland focused on intrinsic motivation and social psychology as a whole (Dinibutun, 2012; Neher, 1991).

Mutual Agreements and Gaps in Research

All of the articles have one common theme:  motivation.  According to the theorists, motivation moves individuals toward success and the motivations are different for each person (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Dinibutun, 2012; Neher, 1991).  All three theorists can agree that being successful is a personal journey and that certain steps must be taken to reach various aspirations.  The common theme among the articles is how social psychology can play into motivation and achievement.  The effect of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors were common among the literature, gratification being the key component.

In reviewing the literature, there was one gap.  Perhaps this gap was addressed in the articles’ entirety, but based on the excerpts motivational strategies were not discussed.  Successful people employ strategies to stay motivated and reach their potential (Palmer, 2005).  Adding strategies would have brought the articles together even more and offered assistance to individuals who are seeking motivational tools.


In conclusion, the articles reviewed were insightful and presented aspects of motivation that are important for academic pursuits and work force adjustment.  While all of the articles revolved around the common theme of motivation, strategies were not discussed.  Still, the articles offered an understanding into social dynamics and how they ultimately play a major role in motivation and success. 


Bassett-Jones, N., & Lloyd, G.C. (2005).  Does Herzberg’s motivation theory have staying

          power?  The Journal of Management Development, 24(10), 929-943.  doi:  10.1108/02621710510627064

Dinibutun, S. R. (2012). Work motivation: Theoretical framework. GSTF Business Review

         (GBR), 1(4), 133-139. Retrieved from

Neher, A. (1991).  Maslow’s theory of motivation:  A critique.  Journal of Humanistic

         Psychology, 31(3), 89–122.

Palmer, B.  (2005). Create individualized motivation strategies. Strategic HR Review, 4(3), 5.

        Retrieved from

Get Your Geek On: Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy by Tracy Wilson

This post will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Bloom’s taxonomy, how it can be used as a tool for writing, recognizing fallacies in one’s own writing, and applying the model for the purposes of finding credible sources.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Bloom’s Taxonomy

Granello (2001) provides a thorough explanation of Bloom’s taxonomy and how it can improve literature reviews.  One of the major strengths is that the model can be applied across disciplines and is not limited to literature reviews.  In fact, the model can be used outside of academia and applied to daily decision-making.   

Bloom’s taxonomy is also user-friendly.  It is easy to understand, but this could be a double-edged sword.  The simplistic, generalized nature could be seen as a weakness, especially when compared to Krathwohl’s (2002) revision where the model is broken down into smaller parts.

Lastly, the model could be seen as outdated.  The introduction of the model in 1956 makes it 61 years old.  That could deter many scholars, but Granello (2001) proved that the model is still applicable. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Writing Tool

As a writing tool, Bloom’s taxonomy allows students to look at previously proposed issues, clarify those problems, find relationships in the research, recognize incongruence, fallacies, and even contribute new ideas for solving the problem (Granello, 2001).  For scholarly writing, one must go beyond simply repeating information.  The student must utilize the research, but ultimately he or she should relay more than just comprehension.  It is one thing to understand something, and it is an entirely different thing to be able to purposefully evaluate an issue, making room for new theories.

As a writer, understanding Bloom’s taxonomy will help me recognize gaps in my thinking.  By understanding each level of thinking, I can move beyond surface-level cognition and dig deeper.  After all, the ultimate goal is to contribute to my field of study. I cannot do that without reaching the highest level of thinking and applying it to my writing.

Evaluating Sources Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

            When a student can look at a source, draw their own conclusions, and make the distinction as to what is true research and what is biased opinion, they have stepped into a much larger world filled with endless possibilities (Granello, 2001).  As Granello (2001) pointed out, “Students who master the evaluative level recognize that there are certain preestablished criteria that are used to evaluate source writings” (p. 297).  Choosing sources that are reliable and valid are essential for scholarly writing.  By utilizing critical evaluation skills gained from Bloom’s taxonomy, it is much easier to navigate through all of the sources available for any subject area.  The ability to look at the research and find contradictions is essential in laying a foundation for research.    

     Some articles are written at a skeletal level.  They simply relay information or move through comprehension as the goal.  Articles that move passed that typically present methods, designs, outcomes, and evaluations.  They also apply the data.  By going deeper into the topic research, the writing demonstrates that the author(s) are thinking about thinking.  The goal is not just to present information and hope the reader will take something from it.  The objective is to relay information and present deeper cognitive consideration for the subject at hand.


In summary, Bloom’s taxonomy is an invaluable tool to students, but it can also provide direction for basic decision-making.  The model has far more strengths than weaknesses, and it can help scholars construct sound research papers.  The approach provides a framework for source evaluation as well, allowing students to choose the best research to expound upon and to pave the way for personal contributions to the field.



Granello, D. H. (2001). Promoting cognitive complexity in graduate written work: Using Bloom’s taxonomy as a pedagogical  

          tool to improve literature reviews.  Counselor Education & Supervision, 40(4), 292–307.  Retrieved from


Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212-215. Retrieved from

Get Your Geek On: Doctoral Focus

Doctoral Focus written by Tracy Wilson

This posting will discuss why I enrolled in the Ph.D. program for Educational Psychology, what I am trying to become, and how I will accomplish my objective.

Why are You Here?

I have always been fascinated by human behavior.  I worked in the field of child welfare from 2005 until 2014.  My specialty was interviewing sexual abuse survivors and preparing them for court.  I also served as a mentor to new employees.  Due to the nature of my career, I enrolled at the University of North Dakota’s (UND) online Forensic Psychology Masters program in 2009 and graduated in 2011.  I was promoted to the director of the department and I thought that my graduate studies prepared me for catastrophe, but I was sadly mistaken when my unit faced a child abduction.  Child welfare lost its luster and I resigned.

In August 2015 I was offered an adjunct faculty position with my undergraduate alma mater and I have fallen in love with the profession.  With Capella, I chose Educational Psychology with a concentration in Psychology Teaching and Instruction because educating college students is my passion.

Learning methods in prominent contrast with past experiences

Each person learns differently, utilizing different skills sets to understand and implement concepts (Rolfe & Cheek, 2012).   My personal learning style involves a pen in my hand or keys at my fingertips.  I also integrate auditory and visual learning into the way I process information.  Additionally, collaboration with peers assists me in learning and retaining information.

The scholar-practitioner model has its roots in theory, research, and implementation (McClintock, 2004).  This model is somewhat new to me.  As a graduate student, I was taught theories proposed by others and applied them.  For example, during the onsite-capstone course at UND, my team was asked to compare and contrast Rape Trauma Syndrome and PTSD, choose which diagnoses we agreed with, and then present the rationale to the class.  We formed our argument based on current research but did not propose any new theories.  I am certain that the scholar-practitioner model is in stark contrast to my previous experiences.

What are you trying to become?

Attaining a Ph.D. will not only be a personal triumph, but tenure would finally be attainable and my dream of being a full-time educator at the college level would become a reality.  I will be an expert in my field and can make contributions to the educational community.  I would also be able to wield theory into practice as I continue teaching, assisting my students in reaching their own career goals.

I have always used a student-centered model and have recently incorporated a transfer-of-learning component.  I want to expound upon this by completing research examining whether the incorporation of transference skills actually enhances student performance.  As a doctoral learner, I can do that.

How Will You Accomplish You Goal?

To accomplish all of the above, I must prioritize.  In fact, I am trying to work weeks ahead in this course.  I make lists and plan accordingly.  When I check off something on the list, I move onto the next task.  The is one of the many strategies I employ to maintain focus.

Another way I will accomplish the goal of completing this program as well as to obtain a position in higher learning is to stay positive.  Within the last week, I have lost count as to how many times I have considered quitting the program.  However, when I stop, take a breath, and think, I see the big picture.  The only way I am going to obtain all of the things I see in that picture is to use determination and strength.

Time management will be essential for completing the Ph.D. program.  I also think that the lists I mentioned above tie into effective time management.  Sacrifices will have to be made.  I will have to allot time each day to focus on my studies.

For me, failure is not an option.  Although I have given thought to throwing in the towel already, I will not.  A Ph.D. is something I have talked about since I was in undergraduate school.  Now with a position in higher education already, I know that the path is clear.  Therefore, it is safe to say that courage and vision will also play a role in this process.

I will complete the required coursework for not only this course, but future courses.  Eventually, I will take my comps and then finish my dissertation.  The only way I can do this is to grab the determination that I know lies deep within.  Then, and only then, can I reach my ultimate goal of becoming a tenured professor.

In conclusion, embracing my personal experiences, understanding and using the scholar-practitioner model, knowing what the primary goal is, and having a plan to work toward it will empower me to be successful as I take this path.  The responsibility lies with me.  It will take time, patience, and commitment.  With the support of peers, instructors, family, and friends, I know that I can complete this journey successfully and then move forward in my career aspirations.


McClintock, C. (2004). Scholar practitioner model.  In A. Distefano, K. E. Rudestam, & R. J. Silverman

(Eds.), Encyclopedia of distributed learning (pp. 393–397). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rolfe, A., & Cheek, B.  (2012).  Learning styles.  Innovait, 5(3), 176-181, doi:10.1093/innovait/inr239


Scholarly Features: Instead of Fading Away

I have decided to post some of my Ph.D. discussion boards and essays. Instead of simply fading away for the next four years, I would rather share some of my scholarly writing. It may be dry for your taste, but perhaps it won’t be. You may be interested in aspects of a Ph.D. program as well as various topics regarding educational psychology.

I am scheduling the posts for Tuesday. They will take the place of the “Teaser Tuesday” slot. So, get ready to get your geek on 🙂  Keep in mind they will be written under my given name, not my pen name.  That will help me avoid plagiarism issues.