Thursday, February 2, 2012

BYU-I Goals Progress

NOTE: As part of my professional development as a nerdly instructor at BYU-Idaho, at the beginning of the semester I set two goals to help me become a better instructor. Here, by way of accountability to myself and others, are my goals, and how I'm doing on them at this point in time.

1) Compile and update a dossier of student feedback suggestions, lessons learned, and helpful tips from our teaching group to deepen my understanding of course content and strengthen my lesson preparation skills.

Lesson Learned One: Anticipate student difficulties. Students appear to have the most difficulties with assessments which, admittedly, can be a bit tricky if you rush through filling them out, which the majority of students do. At the first of this semester I offered my students a cautionary note to keep an eye on their assessment scores and to contact me immediately if they feel a score is in error.

Lesson Learned Two: Offering a forward view. Even though the syllabus and course schedule are available to students, I’ve noticed they tend not to use them, or at least not to consult them (especially the schedule) once the introductory week is over. To give them a heads up, I’ve been sending out announcements, emails and class postings in which I discuss, at the beginning of each unit, the expectations for the unit so they’ve got an overview of what’s going to be happening in the next few weeks. This has reduced the number of students “surprised” that, for instance, their belief statement is going to eventually become a podcast.

Lesson Learned Three: Stay abreast of grading, even the “little” stuff. The most persistent grade-oriented questions I received last semester were when I was going to grade them on updating their student profile and their discussion leadership. In the past, I had opted to leave that toward the end of the semester. This semester, I’ve graded their profiles up front, and am grading them on discussion leadership as the weeks end so they have a better feel for where they stand. This also gives me the opportunity to give those students who forgot about their leadership assignment a second chance to get the work done.

2) Compile as list of and analyze my distance learning and collaboration strengths and weaknesses, taking in experience from my full-time job, time spent as an online student, and in my role at Uncharted to improve my online learning facilitation skills. This goal will dovetail with the first goal.


• Familiarity with the online learning environment
• Dialing back on my in-class presence so the students don’t see me as a domineering figure
• Willingness to check into the class every day as a lurker to answer any urgent questions, and to check my email several times a day to field questions there


• Busy lifestyle on some nights lends to checking into class as a low priority, especially mid-week when work and family demands soar.
• Busy lifestyle has also left me easily putting off checking into the new online community for instructors where I anticipate there is a trove of information that would help me become a better instructor.
• Lack of follow-up on discussion leadership assignments. I think, perhaps, I depend too much on student memory to ensure leaders know when they’re supposed to lead.
• Lack of empathy for students who “disappear” from class. I am a highly-motivated student, spouse to another highly-motivated student. Neither of us understand why you’d pay to take a class you never attend. Need to develop more compassion, reach out better to these students, find out why they’re disappearing.

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