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In This Issue

First Class & Beyond + Motivation

Q & A :
Blended Learning
Book Review: Significant Learning

What's New:
* Maryellen Weimer coming to PSY!
* Fall Workshop Schedule posted
* New and improved One-Stop-Shop of Teaching Resources
* ANGEL Gradebook Reminder
Fall Workshop Schedule
Teaching Tip



Previous Issues

July/August 2006

May/June 2006

April 2006



Contact Me
Suzanne C. Shaffer, M.Ed.
Instructional Design/eLSS

Penn State York
ISTC 202







Volume 1 Issue 4 September/October 2006

teacher at computer
Teaching and Learning at Penn State York

Best Practices,  Teaching Tips,  Ideas,  Resources, What's NEW!


It's back to school, so this issue is dedicated to getting off on the right foot with topics that include:

  • Setting the tone for a positive semester
  • Creating a learning environment that encourages student motivation
  • Important elements when designing online activities
  • Book Review: Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L. Dee Fink
  • What's New? Maryellen Weimer coming to York, Fall workshop schedule ready, One-stop-shop website for teaching and learning resources at PSY, ANGEL Gradebook reminder

Feature Article: The First Class and Beyond: Setting the Tone for a Positive Semester

 This article will briefly summarize tips on:

  • Meeting your Class for the First Time
  • Things to do During the First Three Weeks of Class
  • Creating and Sustaining a Positive Classroom Environment
  • Motivating Students

Read the article….

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Q & A Blended Learning

Diane Harlow asks....

What is the best way to design activities online to supplement the work done in class? 

Fortunately, there is a lot of high-quality research going on now to inform the design of online activities. The Quality Matters group (working under a FIPSE grant) at has completed an extensive literature review of current research about online learning and has developed a rubric to evaluate online courses and activities. Relevant to the design of online activities are the following elements which can be used as a checklist when designing online activities for students:

Does your activity…….

**  Align with course objectives

**  Incorporate interactivity (with other students, with you, with the content?)

**  Engage students in meaningful learning?

**  Assess how well students have attained the objective?

**  Have clearly written instructions for students (your expectations, where to access resources, where to begin, what they are to do, how they will be assessed, etc.)

**  Match the skills you are trying to develop.

** Keep the organizational structure simple and repeatable to help students understand what they are supposed to accomplish

For more information:


Thanks for the question, Diane!

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book cover

Book Review: Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L. Dee Fink

L. Dee Fink defines learning as a change that takes place within the learner. For significant learning to occur, some sort of lasting change must take place within the learner. From this definition, Fink developed a taxonomy of significant learning comprised of six categories which can be used to guide the course development process. The categories and a short description of what constitutes significant learning follow:

  1. Foundational Knowledge: understanding and remembering ideas and information
  2. Application: skills, thinking (critical, creative, practical) managing projects
  3. Integration: connecting ideas, people, realms of life
  4. Human Dimension: learning about oneself and others
  5. Caring: developing new feelings, interests, values
  6. Learning how to learn: becoming a better student, inquiring about a subject, becoming a self-directed learner

Fink relates individual categories to corresponding values that each holds for learners. For instance, the application category has the special value of usefulness for the learner. When students perceive the learning to have a usefulness for them, learning is more likely to occur. Linking the design process to values that students hold increases motivation and interest. The categories are not hierarchical as Bloom's categories can be, but are interconnected with each other, forming an intertwined structure with significant learning at the center of overlap. Fink suggests formulating course goals around significant learning categories and provides many useful examples to illustrate his concepts.

This is a highly interesting approach to course design which links course objectives to learner values and in so doing makes a powerful connection to motivation and a holistic and integrated educational experience for students.

Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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What's New?


Maryellen Weimer is Coming to PSY!!

For those involved in the summer reading group, you'll be happy to hear that Dr. Maryellen Weimer (PSU Berks) will be coming to campus this semester (date TBD) to talk about her book, Learner-Centered Teaching: 5 Key Changes to Practice (See review in April Newsletter). I'll keep you posted!


Fall 2006 Workshop Schedule is here

To see the list of the upcoming fall workshops, visit this LINK. I made an effort to offer them at multiple times/days to accommodate as many schedules as possible.  Please e-mail me if you plan to attend. Hope to see you there!


One-Stop-Shop Location for Teaching Resources

It was time to try to organize the resources on teaching and learning into a one-stop-shop location where you could find information topically, locate upcoming workshop information, participate in on-going discussions, and provide feedback and suggestions as needed. You'll find the site (which is still being constructed) at:


ANGEL Gradebook Reminder

Get the "How to" manual HERE

Beginning in fall 2006, faculty members will have the opportunity to use the new ANGEL Gradebook instead of the grade report. The new features of the gradebook allow faculty to:

  • Calculate grades as points or percentages

  • Report individual, ongoing, and final grades to students throughout the semester

  • Report grades for all assignments, even those that aren't graded using ANGEL lesson tools

  • Award extra credit points

  • Assign different weights to assignment categories

  • Publish grades in an eLion compatible format

In the fall, you can still choose to use the old grade report or the new gradebook, but beginning in spring 2007, only the new gradebook will be available for use within ANGEL.

***NOTE: When you log into your fall courses and access the Gradebook tool, you will be given a one-time opportunity to choose either the current grade report tool or the new gradebook for your course. Once you choose, you cannot change options without contacting ANGEL Help.***

Workshops and supporting documentation on the new gradebook tool will be available in early fall 2006.

Thanks to those who shared their grading schemes with me this summer so that I could become familiar with the tool in advance.


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Teaching Tip

This is more of a teaching thought, than a teaching tip, but the answer any one of us provide can have a huge impact on what happens in our classes...

The proper question is not, "how can people motivate others?", but rather, "how can people create the conditions within which others will motivate themselves?" (Pg 10).

Deci, E. L. (1995). Why we do what we do: The dynamics of personal autonomy. New York: Putnam & Sons.

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