Cathy Anderson

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Some best practices in instruction notes

Written By: Cathy - Nov• 21•10
In general best practices in teaching and learning present the following as identified by Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson (assisted by, among others, A. Astin, C. M. Boyer, K. P. Cross,
R. Edgerton, and J. Gaff) in their 1987 article:

They identified the following as good practices in undergraduate education:

1. Encourages contact between students and faculty.

2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.

3. Uses active learning techniques.

4. Gives prompt feedback.

5. Emphasizes time on task.

6. Communicates high expectations.

7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning. (p. 3)

These details of best practices are also identified on this website from Center for Instructional  Innovation and Assessment:

  • Engage students in active learning experiences
  • Set high, meaningful expectations
  • Provide, receive, and use regular, timely, and specific feedback
  • Become aware of values, beliefs, preconceptions; unlearn if necessary
  • Recognize and stretch student styles and developmental levels
  • Seek and present real-world applications
  • Understand and value criteria and methods for student assessment
  • Create opportunities for student-faculty interactions
  • Create opportunities for student-student interactions
  • Promote student involvement through engaged time and quality effort

Many of these best practices points refer back to communication.  This mean we examine how we communicate, what we communicate, and that we are clear and timely on our feedback.  What an instructor in higher education must be able to do is integrate communication, tools and activities for engagement, and provide active learning opportunities into their courses..and do this with consistency.  These activities must be meaningful to the course content, provide a direct line to the associated learning outcome, and be linked to the assessment of the course.

There are many theories of what constitutes effective teaching and learning such as learner centered, multi modal approaches to delivery of content, problem based learning, authentic learning, adult learning theory, multi intelligences theory, and etc.

How do we measure what constitutes effective teaching?  Reseach has been done in this area such as that which  Borich presented in his book  Effective Teaching Methods.  He identified  that there are five key behaviors in effective teaching as follows: lesson clarity, instructional
variety, teacher task orientation, engagement in learning process and student success rate (Borich, 2002).

The application of Bloom’s Taxonomy in crafting and desiging online courses and face to face courses in general may also improve course development and delivery …the use of Bloom’s illustrated in the following articles:

Milman, N.. (2009). Crafting the “Right” Online Discussion Questions Using the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Framework. Distance Learning, 6(4), 61-64.  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Research Library.

The author provides an overview of how using Bloom’s Taxonomy on the four different types of knowledge: (1) factual, (2) conceptual, (3) procedural, and (4)metacognitive and the cognitive process dimension includes six process categories: (1) remember, (2) understand, (3) apply, (4) analyze,

(5) evaluate, and (6) create which can then be used to develop questions for discussion provides for a more in depth and engaging discussion.
Logically this makes sense for consistency in the development of the course, this means that the questions will align with the domain of the related learning outcomes.

Halawi, L., Pires, S., & McCarthy, R.. (2009). An Evaluation of E-Learning on the Basis of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Education for Business, 84(6), 374-380.  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.

The authors identified the following independent variables: (a) individual factors such as gender, age,educational level, familiarity, time dedicated to study, and learning style and (b) instructional factors that include effectiveness of tools used, interaction with the professor, and ease of use of technology.  They also found that;  The empirical results of the present study

suggest that there were no significant differences among the constructs of individual factors, instructional factors, and indicate that individual and instructional factors do not have a significant effect on e-learning.  And that.. Bloom’s taxonomy provides an empirical  measurement to account for differences between online learning and traditional classroom-based  instruction. We purport that Bloom’s taxonomy extends to other online learning environments (e.g., Blackboard, eCollege) and e-learning courses because of similarities in features and functionality.

Brown, J., & Marshall, B.. (2008). CONTINUOUS QUALITY IMPROVEMENT: An Effective Strategy for Improvement of Program Outcomes IN A HIGHER EDUCATION SETTING. Nursing Education Perspectives, 29(4), 205-11.  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from ProQuest Medical Library

This article covers continuous quality improvement (CQI) in online education and higher education. Implementation of improvements such as putting all faculty on emal, professional development, and providing access  to Blackboard were completed as a result of this study.

Kate Marek in her fall 2009 article, Learning to Teach in Online Creating a Culture of Online Support for Faculty, in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science illustrated the following as best practices in creating a culture of support for online faculty:

These points are well taken, an institution must also consider what resources it has at hand an consider carefully if the cost benefits of entering distance education are worth the investment in faculty release time, investment in technical infrastructure, and paying stipends for course development.

Neely and Tucker identify the hidden costs associated with online education in their June 2010 article Unbundling Faculty Roles In Online Distance Education Programs. The author convey this unbundling as the expanded role or distributed role of faculty as course instructor, content development, instructional designer, advisor, curriculum writer and subject matter expert. The authors identify hidden costs such as supervisory costs, quality assurance reviews, training costs, administrative costs, equipment, technology, supervision,  and other support costs.

Jennifer Ireland, Helen Mary Correia, & Tim Mark Griffin. (2009). Developing quality in e-learning: a framework in three parts. Quality Assurance in Education, 17(3), 250-263.  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Research Library.

The authors identified the following:  Evaluative review a formative evaluation processes that actively promote reflective practice, a developmental approach, a tiered hierarchy to accommodate the variations in proficiency and expertise and scaffolding structure  to assist academics in bridging the gap between developing online learning environments according to a basic set of principles and applying higher order principles.
They also identified the following:

a. Basic standards for e-learning sites as follows:

(1) Organisation and appearance. This standard focuses on principles that support

clear structure and presentation of the site (e.g. “site design promotes ease of


(2) Consistency and compliance. This standard emphasises institutional and legal

aspects such as copyright, privacy, compliance with policies and consistency in

documentation (e.g. “information in the site is consistent with the course


(3) Appropriate use of tools. This standard promotes using tools with clear purpose

and responsible management (e.g. “expectations about use of communication

tools are clear to students”).

(4) Learner resources and supports. This standard focuses on ensuring students

have access to appropriate supports and resources available from the site

(e.g. “links to learning supports are contained in the site”).

The five standards, as well as a condensed rationale and example of one criterion from each
standard, are set out as follows:
(1) Site design driven by learner-centred pedagogy. (2) Assessment activities and feedback processes. (3) Student interaction and engagement. (4) Quality online resources and supports.  (5) Academic management of site of a high standard that benefits student learning.

Best practices arise from tested approaches applied and tested by instructors in online or face to face courses.  Using assessment, feedback and evaluative techniques instructors continuously improve their practices in instruction no matter the mode of delivery.

Borich G D (2002). Effective Teaching Methods. Nanjing: Jiangsu Education Press, 4, 8 (in
Chinese, Yi D P trans., original work published in 2000)

Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin,  39(7), 3–7.

Marek, K.. (2009). Learning to Teach Online: Creating a Culture of Support for Faculty. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 50(4), 275-292.  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1899369061).

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