Jennifer M. Scagnelli Comprehensive Exam Question (O Bannon) Instructional Technology - Fall 2007

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1 Jennifer M. Scagnelli Comprehensive Exam Question (O Bannon) Instructional Technology - Fall 2007 Instructional design is a system of procedures used to plan and develop instructional materials and activities that result in effective learning. It takes into account the elements that are necessary to create a successful learning experience and results in a blueprint by which to create instruction in a consistent and reliable fashion. As stated by Morrison, Ross, and Kemp (2004), the systematic method of implementing the instructional design process is termed instructional design. It is based on what we know about learning theories, information technology, systematic analysis, and management methods. The instructional design process consists of identifying learning goals and objectives, developing learning materials and activities, and implementing evaluation procedures to ensure that the goals and objectives have been met. It is a plan that leads to the selection of appropriate instructional strategies and technologies for each instructional task. The Morrison, Ross and Kemp model of instructional design identifies nine elements that are to be considered in a comprehensive instructional design plan: 1. Identification of the instructional problem and specification of the goals for designing an instructional program; 2. Examination of the learner characteristics that will influence the instructional decisions and should receive attention during planning; 3. Identification of subject content and analysis of task components that are related to the instructional goals and purposes; 4. Statement of the instructional objectives for the learner; 5. Sequencing content within each instructional unit to allow for logical learning; 6. Design of instructional strategies so that each learner can master the objectives; 7. Planning of the instructional delivery; 8. Development of evaluation instruments to assess objectives; 9. Selection of resources to support instruction and learning activities. This model takes into consideration all factors in the environment and appeals to diverse learners as it incorporates both behavioral and cognitive approaches. The nine elements are independent of each other and they do not need to be considered in order, nor must one start with a particular element. The model considers instruction from the perspective of the learners and the design process is presented as a continuous cycle represented in an oval diagram and it can be applied to a variety of settings and situations (Morrison, et. al, 2004), including courses, workshops, instructional programs, and training sessions. One of the most important aspects of social work education is the field practicum experience (internship), and the field instructor plays a critical role in this experience by preparing students for social work practice and ensuring that the educational goals of the field program are achieved. Competent field instructors are central to the quality and success of the field program. Field instructors at the U.T. College of Social Work are 1

2 encouraged to think and act as educators as well as practitioners and supervisors, and the College offers a field instructor training program to enhance their knowledge and skills. The current annual training is a nine hour, three-module program that consists of content in areas such as adult learning and teaching strategies, student evaluation, policies and procedures in field education, diversity, legal and ethical issues, dealing with difficult students, and personal safety risk management. Training is also offered on specific topics of interest to field instructors and in content areas identified by the faculty or field coordinator. Future training will need to include information about the newly implemented M.S.S.W. curriculum and any consequential practicum-related changes. Ideally, field instructors are required to complete all three training modules before supervising any students and they receive contact hours for doing so. Instructional design takes into account the elements that are necessary for a successful learner experience, and designers must consider factors such as learner motivations, learning styles, presentation of information, and evaluation. These have been key factors as I have attempted to examine and briefly describe the application of instructional design to field instructor training at the College of Social Work. My goal was to examine who the training is developed for (characteristics of the learners), what the goal of the training is, what the learning objectives are, how the content is best learned (instructional strategies), and how to determine the extent to which learning is achieved (evaluation procedures). While this tentative plan for training is by no means complete, it can serve as a building block for revision to the field instructor training that will occur as a new M.S.S.W. curriculum is implemented. 1. Problem Identification/Needs Assessment The first step in the instructional design process is to identify the problem or need. Before an instructional design can begin, the needs analysis must indicate that the problem is one that can be solved by instruction. If that is not the case, then the solution is not instruction. Statement of Problem The problem faced by the College of Social Work is a lack of properly trained, competent field instructors who have adequate understanding of the M.S.S.W. program policies, procedures, and learning goals. It is sometimes assumed that experienced social workers will provide effective field instruction, but these skills are not inherent. Many lack the skills to provide instruction that facilitates students abilities to integrate theory and practice, think critically, and practice effectively. The development of effective field instructor training is necessary to ensure that the goals of field education are met. Discrepancies There are core supervision competencies that all social work field instructors should possess as they engage students in the field education program. It has been determined from the students evaluation of the field experience and other sources that many field instructors, particularly those who lack experience in this role, must be taught specific skills, concepts, missions and goals of field education. 2

3 Reason for Problem Training for field instructors has not been revised since a new M.S.S.W. curriculum has been implemented, and field instructors who are in their first semester of supervising have not completed the required training. Current field instructors are not familiar with the new competency-based approach to field instruction. Identify an Aim Update and conduct a field instructor training session that will enable field instructors to establish and sustain effective learning environments that are aligned with the goals of the M.S.S.W. curriculum. Goals (will need to be refined and ranked) identify agenda items for the training structure the layout of training identify the field instructors who will be invited to the training identify a time and place for the training determine the training content needed to achieve the aim identify training moderator obtain updated field instructor manual obtain updated field forms (learning plans, evaluation forms) identify the subject matter expert Recommended Solution for Instruction An updated field instructor training module will be offered to familiarize current and potential future field instructors with the new M.S.S.W. curriculum and specific concepts in field education, and to support their professional growth as they engage in teaching students. 2. Learner Analysis After determining what the problem is and what must be accomplished, it is necessary to identify the knowledge, skill level, and characteristics that the learners possess at the onset of training. The instruction must be targeted as much as possible to the level of the learners' needs, even though there may be differences between their knowledge and skill levels. General Characteristics mostly females aged literate university educated (graduate degrees) varied ethnic and religious backgrounds frequently attend professional development or continuing education classes 3

4 experienced social workers, are aware of the importance of a successful field practicum as they were once social work students themselves bring many personal and professional experiences with them value social justice, social change, and diversity value education most are graduates of U.T. Specific Entry Characteristics (Prerequisite Skills and Attitudes/Aptitudes) must hold a graduate degree in Social Work and have two years of practice experience must be knowledgeable of and abide by the N.A.S.W. (Social Work) Code of Ethics must be familiar with social work terminology must view the training as beneficial to their ability to provide effective field supervision must be aware of advantages that this knowledge will provide for them in terms of professional development must be aware of the important role that they play in quality field education Learning Styles and Motivational Factors auditory and visual learners, have varied learning styles, learn by observing, listening, interacting and doing. adult learners self-directed, time conscious, interested in relevant, fulfilling instruction that must be useful and serve a purpose motivated by professional development and desire to provide a quality field experience want to ease anxiety that they may face in a supervisory position want to avoid appearing incompetent to the M.S.S.W. student alumni who want to give back to the M.S.S.W. program 3. Context Analysis Context analysis determines factors that inhibit or facilitate the learning process. It includes the knowledge, skills and attitudes that the learner brings with them to the instruction, as well as the training environment itself. Orienting Context The main goal of each learner is to be an effective field instructor. The field instructor training session is perceived as being important because the field experience is such a crucial part of social work education. It prepares future social workers whose work will reflect on the profession as a whole. The field instructors are adult learners who are aware of their accountability and responsibility in providing adequate field instruction for students. They were all required to complete a field practicum during their own Social Work education, and they are aware of the importance of a competent, capable field instructor. 4

5 Training Environment will be held in room 328 of Henson Hall (conference room) there will be minimal distractions, located in a quiet area of the building adequate lighting and temperature will occur during a U.T. break to allow for easier parking and campus navigation mid-morning session held on a weekday training will not exceed two hours adequate breaks refreshments and complimentary parking are provided 4. Task Analysis Task analysis is the process used to determine the content to include in the instruction and allows review of this content from the learner s perspective. Working with the subject matter expert (in field instructor training the College of Social Work field coordinator is both SME and training moderator), a task analysis will be carried out to identify and analyze the information and steps that are needed to reach the learning goal, and recognize the skills that are needed to complete each step. A detailed analysis of each of the tasks in terms of frequency, difficulty and importance will serve as input for developing the instructional objectives. In conducting a task analysis of field instructor training my first reaction would be to use a combination of topic and procedural analyses to identify the content, but I see the extreme importance of working with a SME. Without the guidance of a SME, designing a training session such as this one would be nearly impossible for someone without a background in social work. 5. Instructional Objectives The needs and goals must be translated into specific objectives that can provide specific criteria for evaluating the learner s proficiency of the material. The objectives allow design of appropriate instruction and are used as the criteria for evaluating both the instruction and the learning that has occurred. They also serve as the overall focus of the training and reinforce the reasons for taking part in it. Because a task analysis has not been performed, I am only able to provide a vague example of what an example objective might look like. 6. Instructional Sequence and Strategies The order and organization of learning activities affects the way information is processed and retained, and content sequencing is used to order the content in a way that helps the learner achieve the objectives. Example Objective: Given an explanation of how to sufficiently complete the student learning plan, the learner will complete a sample learning plan in an acceptable format. (Content = Procedure, Performance = Application) Initial Presentation A step-by-step explanation will be used to describe how to complete the student learning plan. Copies of previously completed learning plans will be presented as examples. 5

6 Generative Strategy First, the learner will be asked to describe how to complete the learning plan. The learner will then be asked to complete a sample learning plan for a fictitious student. 7. Preinstructional Strategy A preinstructional strategy is used at the beginning of each unit of instruction to introduce the learner to the instructional material. For this training session the objectives will serve as the preinstructional strategy and will serve to let the learners know what they will learn and what is expected from them. 8. Design the Instruction The purpose of selecting an instructional method is to identify and use teaching strategies and techniques that most effectively achieve the performance objectives. Characteristics of the learners should influence the selection of instructional activities and presentation of material. Once the instructional method has been identified for each objective, the instructional materials can be created. The instruction for field instructor training will be delivered in workshop format that includes interactive instructor presentations, group discussions, small group activities and case studies. Handouts consisting of readings, exercises, sample field forms, and outlines of policies and procedures will be distributed to attendees. Although many of the instructional materials for this training already exist, they may need improvement and need frequent revision. Currently, the training materials consist solely of print-based handouts, but I would like to explore the possibility of also offering the information in an online format. 9. Formative Evaluation Formative evaluation addresses issues during the design process on components such as task analysis, instructional objectives and message design and it provides valuable information that can be used to revise and improve the training. It will identify time requirements for the field instructor training session and identify any weaknesses that need attention and improvement. Results from the formative evaluation may also be reviewed by the Dean or other department administrators. 10. Summative Evaluation Summative evaluation occurs at the end of the instruction (in this case at the end the training module) and it provides important data on the effectiveness of the instruction as a whole. Its purpose is to evaluate the effectiveness of the training based on the original instructional objectives. Knowledge obtained from the summative evaluation has utility for strengthening the field component and assessing field instructors level of supervision and teaching competency. It also assists in targeting training to specific areas that may require more attention and identifying necessary revisions to the training materials. While I understand the instructional design process and feel that I am able to apply it to create a field instructor training module, evaluation procedures are not entirely clear to me. It seems difficult to adequately assess the skills that are essential to being a competent field instructor and evaluate the competencies that are so important for them to possess. Since the field instructors do not actually put what they have learned to use until 6

7 the start of the semester when they begin supervising a student, would the most valid evaluation occur at the end of the training or at the end of the semester (or both)? It is important to design any course or training to meet specified educational goals, and instructional design seeks to facilitate learning that meets them in the best possible way. Throughout the process it is also important to consider how technology can be used enhance instruction. Technology-based teaching and learning is widely used and may help to deliver more effective and efficient instruction. In order to continue to meet the needs of students and stay competitive with the burgeoning number of graduate level social work programs across the state, the M.S.S.W. curriculum has been redesigned and is moving towards greater technology enhancements. The College of Social Work hopes to implement online classes within the next year and eventually offer students the option of completing all required coursework in an online format. The needs of the learners will need to be taken into greater consideration as web sites are designed for instruction and information. A large number of our students come to us with backgrounds in areas other than social work. Many are adults who had the same career for years, and they now feel that a career in social work is a much-needed change of direction. They are adults with families and other responsibilities that often prevent them from being able to attend classes on campus, especially when required courses are offered during daytime hours. Classes will be offered in online-format so that more students can participate and earn a graduate degree in Social Work. Thus, it is important to understand that instructional design is necessary in the development of both instructor-based and technology-based learning, and the design process should also be followed throughout the development of any online lesson, activity or course. When designing instruction it is important to be familiar with the ways in which technology is effectively used to present information and stimulate user interaction. A critical element in the success of any learning situation is the instructional design of the course, and the designer must be able to determine the content and site design that will best support the specific instructional objectives. It is important that content is appropriate and clearly communicated, and therefore design and delivery play an important part in the development of web sites that are used for learning purposes. They must effectively incorporate organization, presentation, and integration of the course materials into the online environment. When designing a web site it is important to have a clear understanding of its purpose, goals and intended audience. It is important to anticipate the needs of learners and design with attention to usability and accessibility. The web site needs to be well-organized with clear navigation and a consistent layout throughout each page. Effective web pages are clear, concise, and consistent, while those that are poorly constructed can limit learning by being confusing or inefficient. It is also important for instructors to be properly prepared to teach in an online format. Some may not have an understanding of how to teach online and may not be willing or have time to attend workshops that focus on successful online instruction. Ideally (in my opinion), they should all be required to take an online course and experience it for themselves. In addition, before deciding to develop an online course, it is necessary to 7

8 determine if the course is appropriate for online delivery. Some subject matter may not be suitable for or best taught in an online environment. Objectives that that evoke strong human emotions might be better suited for face-to-face instruction. Social work, by nature, is one such discipline that is grounded in values and ethics and evokes a lot of feelings and passion. Lastly, is important for instructors to know that support services are available to them. They should know where to find resources and assistance to help them design an online course or adapt course materials for the online environment. Models of instructional design are used to reliably create instruction that helps learners reach established learning goals. The Morrison, Ross and Kemp model is shown as a continuous cycle with no predetermined starting point or order which must be followed in addressing each individual element. This signifies that the designer can begin at any stage in the design process. While I understand that importance of revision and evaluation throughout the process, it is difficult for me to understand how the instructional problems and learners needs can be identified in any stage of the process other than at the beginning. Likewise, I don t see how there can be a choice as to when the instructional strategies or delivery medium are selected (choices being either before or after the content is analyzed). The learning objectives play a major role in how the course is taught and which learning activities are used. Therefore, it seems that first the content must be analyzed (task analysis) and then the method and medium of instruction can be selected. The situation that brings such concerns to mind is when decisions are made to offer a course online before the content or objectives are analyzed. Education and training are important in every organization to help assure that employees have the skills and abilities that are needed to adequately perform their jobs. The Office of Employee and Organizational Development (E.O.D.) is responsible for the design and delivery of training and development programs for personnel at the University of Tennessee. They offer numerous training classes on topics pertinent to issues of the university, and employees are strongly encouraged to complete at least 32 hours of training each calendar year (some departments have made this a requirement). It is important that all E.O.D. courses serve to improve employee performance and support the mission and goals of the university. The training classes that are offered should, and do, reflect the university s policies, procedures, strategic plans, identified needs, and future visions (such as the Ready for the World Initiative and Diversity Action Plan). It takes time and effort to produce a training program that provides in-depth coverage of a specific topic, and it is not clear to me how a training department such as E.O.D. does so in such a large university. I suppose it is difficult for me to look at U.T. in its entirety instead of focusing on the specific situations and training needs of each individual department, but I am unable to comprehend how E.O.D. determines which training classes need to be offered and what new content needs to be included. If a needs assessment is necessary to identify gaps between what should be happening and what is actually happening across the entire campus, it does not seem possible for the trainers use such an assessment a part of their instructional design process. Goal analysis seems to be a better for this situation. It is also unclear how a learner analysis can be conducted since employees from many different departments and job levels attend these training courses 8

9 and the participants are different for each class. They are extremely diverse in their job responsibilities and skill levels. And, once again, I am unsure of evaluation in such a situation. The purpose of the training is to be able to effectively use the learned knowledge and skills while on the job, but how is it possible for E.O.D. to evaluate the learners competencies and skills when they return to their workplaces. As the University of Tennessee and other educational institutions look for ways to remain successful and competitive, they must consider the benefits of employee training and the outcomes it can provide. It is logical that they will also look for convenient, cost-effective methods of training delivery, and computer-based training has become a widely-used option in delivering training to enhance employee performance. Computer-based training, which is an interactive web-based learning experience, is available at U.T. for numerous courses and it provides an alternative to traditional classroom instruction that does not interrupt work schedules and is available on a 24 hour basis. It is self-paced and the learner can spend as much time as necessary to fully understand and learn the material, repeating learning steps as necessary. There is a high degree of learner control, and topics can be chosen by relevance of information to their current needs. For these reasons it appeals to adult learning characteristics. The use of instructional design principles in the development of computer-based instruction is important as they being designed and developed. It is important that they are carefully designed so the instruction serves as an efficient tool to enhance learning. Effective presentation of the content in a way that centers on the learner experience will assist in keeping the focus on the learning rather than on the technology. All organizations are concerned with performance and the extent of each person s ability to contribute to productivity and to the overall mission. A competent, capable university community is needed to provide quality products and services, and for this reason learning and training must be effective and efficient. Professionals in the field of instructional technology and design help people perform more effectively by using systematic processes to design, develop, and implement the most effective instruction possible to meet educational and training needs, be in the format of online instruction, self-paced computer-based training, or instructor-led training sessions. Whether instruction is directed at students, staff, faculty, or field practice instructors, it is important to ensure that the learning goals and needs of all learners are met. The changes that are being implemented in the College of Social Work will hopefully offer me a chance to utilize my knowledge and gain practical experience in the development of webbased courses and use of instructional design to create effective and efficient learning. 9

10 References Morrison, G., Ross, S., and Kemp, J. (2004). Designing Effective Instruction (4 th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. 10

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