First Day of Class Activity

By Jennifer Garrett and Mary Clement, EdD

The interest inventory is a simple tool to help you acquaint yourself with your students. Unlike the typical icebreaker, the interest inventory is a paper-based activity and students do not have to give answers aloud in front of class. The interest inventory, therefore, helps you get to know your students privately and allows you to ask different questions than you would during oral introductions.

When creating your interest inventory, you need to consider what you need to know about your students in order to effectively teach them. The inventory is simply a list of questions about students’ interests and backgrounds, but you decide which questions appear.

The questions should always include students’ names and majors (or whether or not they have decided on a major). It is helpful to ask students their reasons for taking this course at this point in time, and what they would like to learn or get out of the class. These types of questions help you discover what their expectations are. Some fun icebreaker questions are valuable too. “What is the best book you’ve ever read?” “What kind of music is playing on your iPod?”

While the icebreaker questions might seem frivolous, they are helpful in building the classroom community and in establishing a warm, welcoming environment. Another strategy is to answer some of the icebreaker questions yourself. When you share information with students, it makes them more comfortable sharing information with you.

Keep in mind that although the interest inventory is private, you still want to use discretion with the questions. You don’t want to ask anything very personal or anything embarrassing. In addition, the interest inventory also needs to include questions that will provide information about students’ skills and preparedness. For example, you can have students solve some math problems or write a paragraph about a favorite book. This information will allow instructors to tailor lectures by addressing any general deficiencies or accelerating material if students are adequately prepared.

A Sample Interest Inventory
In creating your student interest inventory, ask questions that will not only help you get to know the student, but that also help you understand each student’s interest and background in the subject.

Get student background — name, major, year in school. Sample questions: How does this class fit into your major? What do you plan to do after graduation?

How do you learn best? What have teachers and professors done in the past that helped you to learn?
How many hours do you study outside of class? Where and how do you study? (by yourself, in groups, etc.)

Background in content. In this section, write content specific questions. This includes math problems to solve, or writing a paragraph about the subject matter. For example: In this field, there are many theorists. Name a theorist you have studied and describe why you are influenced by his/her work.

The fun questions that help us to get acquainted. What is your very favorite meal? Which restaurant is your favorite? List one hobby. If you have a completely free Saturday afternoon, how would you like to spend it? If I gave you $5,000 to spend on a trip, where would you go?

Like it or not, your students are going to form opinions about you and your course in the first moments of the first day of class. This white paper can help you make a strong start to the semester. Ten Ways to Engage Your Students on the First Day of Class. Learn More >>

If You Dare
Also consider including “if you dare” questions in the interest inventory. These kinds of questions might require follow-up, so they are called “if you dare” questions because you need to be prepared for all kinds of answers and the work they might entail. However, these questions are intended to give you additional information that will help you maximize instructional efficacy.

For example, consider asking, “What did an instructor do last year that helped you learn?” Be prepared for mentions of instructors who provided exam review questions, three-hour review sessions, and pizza. You can also ask students what a teacher did that didn’t help them learn. The answers to these questions will also help you understand your students’ expectations of you.

Another valuable question is “What else do you want me to know about you?” Many times the answers will require that you take some kind of action. Some students might tell you that they have Attention Deficit Disorder or a different learning disability, that they need to see written notes to understand material, or that they need extra time during exams.

You will have to determine how to respond to the answers they provide, but it often is far more useful to have the information at the start of class so that you can work with each student appropriately. Most schools have different rules and procedures to handle special accommodations for learning disabilities, but the questions allow you to have the necessary conversations with students and to direct them to available resources.

Again, be prepared for answers you have not encountered in the past. For example, a student may request unique conditions for taking exams. Knowing the information early affords the necessary time to respond to student requests prior to any exams.

Note: Be sure to bring enough copies of the interest inventory and even pencils for the first day. While the pencils may seem excessive for college-level teaching, it is important to ensure that everyone participates. You can use it as a teaching tool and tell students that you did extra work for them on the first day of class, but that the first day will be the only time you will provide them with basic tools, such as pencils, paper, or books. Let them know that you expect them to bring their materials from that point forward. Remember to state your expectations clearly; don’t assume that your students know them.

Retrieved from Faculty Focus, on July 21, 2015, C:\Users\Mary\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\8RFTJJTW\email.mht

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Fostering Student Learning through the Use of Debates

By Laura Trujillo-Jenks, PhD, and Lisa Rosen, PhD

There are many ways to get students engaged in a classroom, but when topics are controversial or taboo, students may shy away from sharing their thoughts on the subject. In contrast, some may be so overly passionate about a topic that they proselytize their point. One tactic that helps students feel comfortable enough to speak about controversial topics is through debates that are structured and promote students’ preparedness in defending or opposing a particular stance on a topic.

Debates allow students to see both sides of a situation, topic, or story, and debates also require them to think critically and support what they say with substantive and factual information. Although emotions and biases may come out in a debate, the research-based supporting information helps give context to those emotions and biases and can foster critical thinking, especially if students argue the position opposite to their initial beliefs. The “consider the opposite strategy” may force students to set aside their emotions and biases and evaluate the evidence supporting both sides of a controversial issue (Budesheim & Lundquist, 2000).

For a Psychology of Women course, debates were used mainly to help students see past their predispositions, since it has been noted that students enter such courses with their own biases (Chrisler, 2013). Additionally, because debates can foster critical thinking, considering information presented in the debates may help students move past those biases in this course and possibly change their minds about a topic or at least be more educated about the “other side.” In order to incorporate debating effectively, the following was done:

1. Participants were given a list of issues, they voted for their preferred topics, and the most popular issues were selected (e.g., Are single-sex schools and classes effective?).

2. Students were randomly assigned to one position of the selected controversial issue in the field. The in-class debate was coupled with a reflection paper that asked students to consider the strengths and weaknesses of both positions. Then, students were randomly assigned to groups so that some had to argue the position counter to what they originally believed.

3. Each student submitted a paper addressing how his or her group, as well as the opposing group, used theory and research from the course and additional sources in the literature to formulate their debate position. In so doing, students noted the strengths and limitations of their arguments, as well as those of the opposition. Students also discussed how their thinking may have changed or developed over the course of the assignment.
Some students were apprehensive about the debates and were uncomfortable displaying their emotions when debating a topic that they felt very passionate about. The following data was gathered and presented to the students to help them better understand the purpose of the debates:

1. An issue assessment was conducted at three points (i.e., pre-debate, post-debate, and in a post-reflection paper). For their issue, students indicated what side they favored. Students also indicated how confident they were that their opinions were correct on a 1 (Not at All Confident) to 7 (Very Confident) scale.

2. Students completed a post-debate survey modeled on Vo and Morris’s (2006) scale, which included statements such as: The debate makes me see the real-world relevance of this course better, the debate makes this course more interesting and exciting, and the debate teaches me to think more critically.

3. To evaluate the “consider the opposite” strategy, calculations were made of the absolute value of the difference in pre-issue assessment to post-issue assessment. This enabled a captured change, regardless of whether the student initially sided with the affirmative or negative position.

An independent sample t-test was conducted to examine differences in change scores for those assigned to a position that matched their original views or those assigned to a position that ran counter to their original views. Students who were assigned to argue a position inconsistent with their views had higher change scores on the issue assessment than those assigned to argue a position consistent with their views, t (21) = 2.48, p < .05. This suggests that arguing the opposite position can be an effective strategy for challenging students’ initial assumptions.

Students were able to see firsthand how the debates that they prepared for helped them confirm their belief in their positions and/or become educated about the other views. In addition, students believed debates helped them recognize the real-world relevance of the course material, which helped them understand that emotions and biases can cloud one’s perspective about a certain situation, topic, or story. Finally, this information helped the students understand that debating does not equal fighting but instead understanding, an idea that students could easily transfer to other courses.

Budesheim, T. L., & Lundquist, A. R. (2000). Consider the opposite: Opening minds through in-class debates on course-related controversies. Teaching of Psychology, 26, 106-120.
Chrisler, J. C. (2013). Teaching about gender: Rewards and challenges. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14, 264-267.
Vo, H. X., & Morris, R. L. (2006). Debate as a tool in teaching economics: Rationale, technique, and some evidence. Journal of Education for Business, 8, 315-320.
Laura Trujillo-Jenks is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Texas Woman’s University. Lisa Rosen is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Philosophy at Texas Woman’s University.

Retrieved from Faculty Focus on May 27, 2015

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Reality Check: Helping to Manage Student Expectations

August 20, 2014

By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD in Teaching Professor Blog

Most students begin college, the academic year, and new courses motivated and optimistic. Many first-year students expect to do well because they were successful in high school. Some are right, but others will only find similar success if they work much harder than they did in high school. Yet most start out expending the same level of effort. They will talk with their classmates and convince each other that an exam covering three chapters can’t be that hard, so they put off studying and then “look over” the chapters the night before—happily dealing with any and all interruptions and distractions.

It’s not until the day of the test, as they’re confronted by a number of questions they can’t answer, that the anxiety sets in. They will sit staring at the questions and guessing at far too many answers, before turning in the test and then persuading themselves that chances are still pretty good for a B.

A lot of students continue to hold unrealistic expectations throughout the course even in the presence of mounting evidence to the contrary. A student can be going into a cumulative final exam with a solid C, but she believes she is going to ace that final and come out of the course with a high B. That may be possible in a few courses, but it’s a long shot in others and is simply not going to happen in most courses.

Adjusting expectations
Unrealistic expectations present teachers with a conundrum. We want students to believe in themselves. We want them committed to doing well. But we need them to be realistic about what success demands.

So, we tell them what they will need to do. Sometimes we try to get their attention with hyperbole. Most of us no longer offer the “look to your right, look to your left. . .” admonition used when we were students. But many of us do still tell students that they need to invest two hours of study for every one hour in class. Yes, that’s true of some courses, but it is no longer true of most courses. Is it true of your courses? I recommend evidence-based answers, gently noting that unrealistic student expectations are not adjusted by equally invalid faculty declarations.

The most persuasive claims about how much work it takes to do well in the course are those delivered by other students. Teachers can control those messages a bit by sharing advice from former students on the course website, in the syllabus, or by getting permission from some carefully selected former students that students can contact if they’d like to talk with someone who has taken the course.

Beyond telling, most of us also try to make the expectations more realistic with an early assessment in the course—a first test, early paper, or some other kind of graded work. And some of us are a bit tougher on this initial work. We let the lower-than-expected grade convey the message that this is going to be harder than many students anticipated.

When trying to help students adjust their expectations, it’s good to remember how strongly students believe performance is ability based. If they get feedback (which their performance deserves), they are quick to conclude that they can’t do it, so they drop the course and perhaps later leave college. What we have them do immediately after the tough feedback is just as important as that initial expectation-correction activity. Is it another test or paper? Is it an opportunity to redo what they didn’t do well initially? Is it having a policy that removes the lowest score from the final grade calculation? Is it leading a class discussion about the value of high expectations and sharing realistic ideas about how to reach them?

I remember one faculty member telling me that he had students respond to their first disappointing test grade with a goal-setting activity. He’d start with the prompt: “So what’s a realistic amount of grade improvement for your next exam?” After that, each student created a list of what they needed to do and when they needed to do it in order to accomplish that goal. The instructor provided regular reminders and a review of the goal and accompanying activities before the next test. That exam debrief included discussion of who reached their goal and why they did or did not, followed by another round of goal setting.

Setting realistic expectations is an important life skill, and our courses can provide students a chance to learn how.

© Magna Publications. All Rights Reserved.


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Experts debate the value of final exams

The all-night cram session before a final exam has long been a rite of passage for many college and university students, but it could soon be a thing of the past. A growing number of educators are pushing for final exams to be abolished. Last month, Alberta reduced the weightings of its standardized final exams for high school students, and Ontario plans to pilot an alternative method of evaluating students. Cognitive science seems to support the idea that exams are poor measures of learning; however, some critics argue that the pressure of an exam situation helps prepare students for the “real world.” Exams increase students’ anxiety levels, and can trigger a “fight or flight” response. For some students, this can contribute to improved performance, while for others it can have the opposite effect. Some educators therefore suggest that students must be taught to better cope with stress, or to understand stress as part of success rather than failure. National Post

VCC – School of Instructor Education

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“The essence of teaching is change, and change always has political dimensions. Forteachers and learners, nothing is exactly the same after a learning event as it was before”.

Brookfield’s opinion is that “any teacher of any subject is engaged in politics since he or she is exerting influence and coercion in the organization of classroom activities” (Brookfield p. 236). “Anytime teachers encourage students to think in new and different ways, to explore alternatives to common sense interpretations of their experiences, or to challenge the accuracy and validity of society’s givens, their teaching is, in this sense, political” (Brookfield p. 241).

“Teaching is intended to encourage students’ growth and development and is inevitably infused with moral, social and political dimensions” (Brookfield p. 328). “You cannot teach without in some way changing yourself, your students, and the world around you” (Brookfield p. 237).The way we treat students, the way we organise our learning environments, evaluate and influence learners are all political elements.


I chose to research and reflect on this quotation as I can relate to it. Adult education isbased on transformative learning. Transformative learning is “designed to foster change as a form of adaption. This includes adapting to the needs and demands of the broader, socio-cultural context” (Dirkx).

Adults seek out education for “a new or different job, their current job, self-improvement, or greater involvement in their community” (Dirkx). All of these reasons for education have a political dimension. Once the learner has engaged in an educational session they are no longer the same person as there were prior to engaging in the educational session.

Teaching is a relationship with governments and societies. “Sociopolitical context of education includes, the conditions, laws, regulations, tradition and ideologies that influence and define education at any given time” (Nieto). “Teaching is political through decisions about funding, curriculum, class size, testing, tracking, and other matters of policy and practice”

Educators must be able to survive the politics of the organization. Teachers continuously teach under political pressures. Examples are; job postings, staff room, promotion, tenure, funding, the learning environment and publications. All of these factors shape the teachers practices in the learning environment.

I identify with this quotation as I was one of the two main leads in obtaining accreditation with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia (CLPNBC) and Private Career Training Institutions Agency of B.C. (PCTIA) for the new Provincial Practical Nurses Curriculum of British Columbia.


The insight that I gained from researching and reflecting on this quotation is that even the instructional strategies in the learning environment have a politic dimension. I had never thought that my decisions into instructional strategies were deemed to have a political element. As educators we need to be aware of the political aspect and implications of teaching. Adult educators “operate under the influence of political values that are central to the democratic tradition: (Brookfield p. 238).
Teachers are part of a community. Adult educators “believe in values such as honesty, compassion, respect, fairness and inclusion in the classroom. These educators are operating under the influences of political values” (Brookfield p. 238). And are culturally responsive teachers. “Culturally responsive teachers develop intellectual, social, emotional and political
learning by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills and attitudes” (Singer).

It is the teacher’s responsibility “to empower the learners to take control of their lives” (Singer). We encourage learners to construct new knowledge and skills while engaging in social change.


Teaching the Practical Nursing Program has many political dimensions and elements. It starts with the Government of British Columbia, approving the Provincial Practical Nursing Curriculum. There are laws and legislation that guide Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) practice in British Columbia. The Health Professions Act (HPA) states what duties a LPN can legally
perform in British Columbia. This is done through passing the Standards of Practice for LPN’s in B.C. The HPA grants authority to CLPNBC to regulate the practice of LPN’s in B.C.

Every day that I am teaching Professional Practice is political, as LPN practice is based on laws and legislation. As well as ethics developed by the self-regulatory body. At each session I facilitate the learner towards building upon previous knowledge/skills or constructing new knowledge/skills. “A variety of different factor are interrelated and integrated in the learning-teaching process” (Ivanic). Learning is not predictable therefore it varies from learner to learner (Ivanic).

I need to be cognizant of the teaching methods that I am using in the learning environment. And determine how the learners are comprehending the content/material and how they are perceiving my instructional methods. As a facilitator in adult education I “must take account of social aspects of learning, including the political and institutional context in which it takes place, the broader socio-cultural context in which learning is situated, and the social life in classrooms.
Social interaction is the key mechanism through which learning takes place” (Ivanic). I need to ensure that the instructional strategies that I am using are interactive and are suited to the learning styles of the learners in the class. As an adult educator I need to use “critical questioning techniques and through critical incident activity to facilitate the learners journey through transformation” (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner p.155).

I currently use a lot of interactive instructional strategies in the learning environment. Since starting the Provincial Instructors Diploma (PIDP) I have incorporated using Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT) in my sessions. Now that I have gained knowledge and skills on how to effectively implement the use of questionnaires I will be using these to assess the
learners knowledge and the effectiveness of my instruction.

After each session I engage in critical self-reflection. Reflection is associated with change as I “assess my beliefs, goals and results of changing approaches to my work” (Imel).


Brookfield, Stephen, D., (2006), The Skillful Teacher On Technique, Trust, And Responsiveness In The Classroom

Dirkx, John, M., Transformative Learning Theory in the Practice of Adult Education: An Overview, Retrieved from the World Wide Web,

Imel, Susan, Change: Connections to Adult Learning and Education, Retrieved from the World Wide Web,
Ivanic, Roz, Dr., Understanding the Relationships Between Learning and Teaching; A Review of
Them Contribution of Applied Linguistics, Retrieved from the World Wide Web,

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007), Learning in Adulthood aComprehensive Guide (3rd Edition)

Nieto, Sonaia, Teaching as Political Work: Learning from Courageous and Caring Teachers, Retrieved from the World Wide,

Singer, Alan, Pezone, Michael, Education for Social Change: From Theory to Practice, Retrieved from the World Wide Web,

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“Teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic”


Brookfield is of the opinion that there are no habits of effective teaching, no standardized indictors, and no rules for teacher success in the classroom (Brookfield p. 1). “Teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risks are endemic” (Brookfield p. 1). Teachers often do their “best to muddle through the complex contexts and configuration that our classrooms represent” (Brookfield p. 1).

Muddling through occurs in the learning environment when there are “no clear guidelines to help with unexpected contingencies” (Brookfield p. 2). According to Brookfield this can “be done well or badly. When done well, it involves the application of informed practical reasoning” (Brookfield p. 6). Practical reasoning involves “three interrelated skills of scanning, appraisal, and action” (Brookfield p.6). Scanning is determining what the “central features of the situation, to diagnosis the big picture. During the appraisal phase we call on our interpretive resources to help us understand the situation correctly. And the action phase involves sorting through the interpretations we have gathered by judging the accuracy and validity of the assumptions and interpretations gathered and take action” (Brookfield p. 6 -7).


I chose to reflect and research this quotation as I can relate to muddling through in the learning environment. I identify with this quotation by reflecting on a prior experience. I was informed at the last minute to go in and substitute for a course that I had never instructed before. There was no time to prepare and I was expected to use another faculty members
power points. There was no prepared lesson plan, lecture notes or class activities for the session. It was an awful feeling walking into a classroom being unprepared. Being that it was part of the nursing program I had some knowledge of the material/concepts, but was certainly not prepared and felt uncomfortable for the whole class. In this situation I muddled my way through by using essential questions to provoke discussion. This allowed me to scan and appraise the situation and take action as required. At the time I was not aware that I was using the practical reasoning process. I was muddling through to try and make the best of the situation for the best outcomes of the learners

Teaching is unpredictable, no matter how well trained, skilled or prepared the instructor is. All teachers at times in their practice will find themselves muddling through a classroom situation. This may be due to the learners learning styles, a dilemma, a culturally diverse classroom, or an unforeseen circumstance in the learning environment.

In completing five modules of the Provincial Instructors Diploma Program I have gained a lot of knowledge on adult education. But I want to learn more about how to be more effective in dealing with “unexpected contingencies” (Brookfield p. 2) in the classroom environment.


The insights that I have gained from researching this quotation is how to effectively use the three interrelated skills of practical reasoning when I find myself muddling through a situation. During the scanning phase I will look for patterns that I have been seen before and determine what needs the most attention now. In the appraisal phase I will use previous experiences, guidelines, professional development and my intuition to “attend to the instinctive analyses and responses that immediately suggest themselves as relevant” (Brookfield p. 7). In the action phase “I will judge the accuracy and validity of the assumptions and interpretations that I have gathered” (Brookfield p. 7). This involves past experiences, using judgement to connect it to the current situation, and professional protocols. Then I will take action on what makes the most sense.

I understand that no matter how experienced, skilled or prepared an Instructor is, there is always a possibility that you may find yourself in a situation of “gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic” (Brookfield p. 1). And as “we muddle through different teaching contexts we usually draw on insights and intuitions born of experience” (Brookfield p. 2).

Adult educators must have “constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teacher’s actions” (Brookfield, p. 17). In order to check the learner’s learning and how they are perceiving my instructional strategies I must use Critical Incident Questionnaires in the learning environment.


Since researching and reflecting on this quotation I will be more cognizant of the process of practical reasoning and engage in this process in the learning environment more frequently.I will implement more Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ) in the sessions that I facilitate to assess the learner’s learning and how they are perceiving my instructional strategy. I need to ensure that I am responsive to the learners. Responsiveness “is the teacher’s constant attempt to show that she wants to know how and what students are learning, what inhibitors and enhancers to learning are present in her teaching, and what concerns students have about the course” (Brookfield p. 71).

I must be reflective in my practice. “Reflective practice, practitioners engage in a continuous cycle of self-observation and self-evaluation in order to understand their own actions and the reactions they prompt in themselves and in learners (Surgenor).


Brookfield, Stephen, D., Teaching: A Complex and Passionate Experience, Retrieved from the World Wide Web, on February 24, 2014,

Brookfield, Stephen, D., (2006), The Skillful Teacher On Technique, Trust, And Responsiveness In The Classroom

Brookfield, Stephen, Working Skillfully With the Emotional Rhythms Of College Learning, Retrieved from the World Wide Web,

Surgenor, Paul, (2011), Tutor, Demonstrator & Coordinator Development at UCD, Reflective Practice, Retrieved from the World Wide Web,

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“Students want to know their teachers stand for something”


Brookfield states “students what to know their teachers stand for something and have something useful and important to offer, but they also want to be able to trust and rely on them” (Brookfield p.55). When students describe teachers they recall the “memorable and significant teachers, students rarely talk the language of effectiveness” (Brookfield p. 55). It is about trust and the teacher that helped them ‘get’ something important” (Brookfield p. 55). They perceive a teacher as being effective “because she combines the element of having something important to say or demonstrates the element of being open and honest with students” (Brookfield p.55). Adult learners want to have confidence that the material they are learning is relevant and that they are being treated as adults.

In completing many critical incident questionnaires Brookfield found that students identified “two general clusters of preferred teacher characteristics” (Brookfield p. 56). These two characteristics are; credibility and authenticity. Students identified credibility as “the perception that the teacher has something important to offer. They are seen as possessing a breadth of knowledge, depth of insight, sophistication of understanding and length of experience that far
exceeds the student’s own” (Brookfield p. 67). Authenticity, “is defined as the perception that the teacher is open and honest in her attempts to help students learn” (Brookfield p. 68). The student believes that they can “trust the teacher to be honest and helpful” (Brookfield p. 68). She shows “passion, enthusiasm, frailties and emotions” (Brookfield p. 56). Students believe that both of these characteristics must be present in the teacher to enhance their learning. By utilizing classroom assessment technique will prevent you from deviating off in one direction.


I chose this quotation as I felt it was essential to learn more about how the learners perceive their instructors and what they want their instructors to stand for. My goal as an adult educator is to be an effective skillful teacher in achieving the best outcomes for the learners. I have learned and experienced that “no one teaching model fits all occasions in which teaching and learning takes place” (Galbraith & Jones).

Adult educators often enter the learning environment with little or no formal education in the role of educator. They “develop authenticity in their teaching over time and with experience” (Cranton). Both Cranton and Brookfield believe that authenticity develops through engaging in critical self-reflection. Whereas Freire “argues that that authenticity comes through having critical knowledge of the context within which we work and seeing the principal contradictions of
that society” (Cranton).

I was offered a job as an adult educator with no formal training or education in the role of an adult educator. Upon reflecting on my early teaching assignments I question how effective I was in the learning environment? Did I display credibility and authenticity? As a nurse I have always engaged in critical self-reflection and engaged in lifelong learning. It is imperative to continue engaging in these as an adult educator.

With experience in the adult learning environment I have been able to display credibility to my leaners by displaying; expertise in the subject matter, experience in the field, rationales, and convictions. Examples are; expertise, I demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge on the subject matter. This enables me to welcome questions and answer them with confidence.And to deal with unexpected events in the learning environment with control and confidence. Experience, I relate the learning concepts to practice stories and include providing rationales for my decision making. This enables the learner to see the relevance of learning the material and gives them the ability to understand my decision making skills and critical thinking skills. Rationale, I provide rationales for my decisions, reasons, and actions in classroom decisions.
This builds confidence with the learners. Conviction is demonstrated by ensuring the learner understands the concepts or topic. This is done by providing constructive feedback to the learners on an ongoing basis.

I display authenticity in the learning environment by displaying; congruence, full disclosure, responsiveness, and personhood. Examples are; congruence, by using class assessment techniques in the learning environment. This enables me to review how effective my instructional strategies are for the learners. And allows me to revisit or review a subject matter or concept. Full disclosure is displayed by providing a syllabus which includes grading criteria, dates of evaluations including the type of evaluation, stating the learning objective of each session. I review this on the first session of the course. I will review each evaluation prior to the date of the evaluation. I provide the learning objectives at the beginning of each class on the overhead projector. This builds trust with the learners that I have outlined and communicated
learner expectations. Responsiveness is shown by listening to the learners concerns or suggestions regarding the course. This includes the effectiveness of my instructional strategies. I use classroom assessment techniques to determine the effectives of my teaching. I am responsive to the learners concerns, suggestions and how the learners are perceiving my instruction. This does not mean that I will always change, but will provide a rationale to the learners why I can’t change it.


By researching this quotation for this journal entry has validated that there are no standardized principles for effectiveness in the learning environment. I have gained insight that there are two important characteristics of an adult educator, credibility and authenticity. “Credibility has four common indicators; expertise, experience, rational and conviction” (Brookfield p. 58). “Authenticity has four common indicators; congruence, full disclosure, responsiveness, and personhood” (Brookfield p. 67). “Self-awareness is an essential component for understanding ourselves as a teacher of adults” (Galbraith & Jones).

The understanding I have from this assignment is that I do display credibility and authenticity in the learning environment. Prior to completing this assignment I was not aware that my actions were revealing credibility and authenticity to the learners.


“Self-awareness is an essential component in becoming a skillful teacher of adults. Self-awareness is the foundation for your philosophical orientation or vision for mechanism for enhancing authenticity and credibility of yourself as a teacher with your adult learners, and a guide for your teaching perspective” (Cranton).

To validate that I am displaying credibility and authenticity I will implement critical incident questionnaires into the learning environment. This will provide me information on how the learners are perceiving my instruction and me as a teacher.

“Good teaching should be a balance of understanding one’s self as a teacher and knowing how to develop learning encounters that are meaningful and useful in the promotion of personal and processional growth” (Galbraith & Jones). As an adult educator I need to continue to engage in professional development.


Brookfield, Stephen, D., (2006), The Skillful Teacher On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness
In The Classroom . Jossey-Bass .

Cranton, Patricia, Living a Critical Life through Authenticity, Retrieved from

Click to access Cranton.PDF

Galbraith, Michael, W., Jones, Melanie, S., (2008), First Things First in Becoming a Teacher of
Adults, Retrieved from

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“…there will be very few standardized practices that help students across the board learn essential skills or knowledge. An approach that one student finds particularly useful or congenial may well be profoundly unsettling and confusing to the student sitting next to them”.


Brookfield believes that not all learners learn at the same level, from the same instructional strategy, or have the same desire to learn. Therefore the Instructor must have the ability to get an “accurate reading” (Brookfield p. 18) of the diverse learners in the classroom and adjust their facilitation based on the learners needs.

He states that a skillful teacher will be aware of “habits of mind and of practice” (Brookfield, p. 18). But “sometimes they get in the way, leading us to do things out of habit that student’s find unhelpful” (Brookfield p. 18). Adult educators often use standardized or past practices for instruction and these often have a negative impact for some of the learners. In the adult educator role you must have the competence to identify when learners are confused or struggling and to recognize when to intervene for the benefit of the learner.

Skilled educators “adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice” (Brookfield p.
17). Brookfield defines critical reflection as, “the process by which we research the assumptions informing our practice by viewing these through four complementary lenses’; the lenses of students’ eyes, colleagues’ perceptions, literature, and our own autobiography” (Brookfield p. 26). By “viewing our classroom choices and decision through the four lenses of critical reflection increases chances that our action will be based on assumptions that are accurate and valid” (Brookfield p. 26).


I chose this quotation as I feel that it is essential in my role as an adult educator to understand the rationale why standardized practices do not work for every learning situation and the impact that utilizing standardized practices have in the learning environment. Throughout the Provincial Instructors Diploma Program I have learned that adult learners come to class with a variety of learning styles, experiences, prior knowledge and desire to learn.

Adult educators must have “constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teacher’s actions” (Brookfield, p. 17). As a facilitator in the adult learning environment I must have the skills and ability to facilitate the students learning, be cognizance of how adult learners learn, and be responsive.

As a nurse and nursing educator I engage in critical reflection on a daily basis, I ask myself and my colleagues, what did I do well, what could I have done better in that situation? By engaging in critical reflection I identify what needs improving to ensure the best outcomes for my patients and or learners.

In the Provincial Practical Nursing Program in British Columbia there is an enormous amount of theory that the learner is required to comprehend. As a facilitator I must have the ability to deliver this content in an engaging and motivating manner. At times this can be challenging to ensure that all learners’ needs are being met. By incorporating Brookfield’s three phases of “scanning, appraisal, and action” (Brookfield p. 6) will enhance my facilitation skills in recognizing what needs attention, analyzing the situation and acting to facilitate the learners in achieving their learning goals.

I have a professional obligation to engage in lifelong learning. I have had experiences in courses or workshops where the session has been less than advantageous to me as a learner. There are many reasons that this has occurred. Examples are due to not understanding the content, poor facilitation skills, having prior knowledge about the subject matter or being
unmotivated. The facilitator was either complacent or did not read their audience, so this went unnoticed.


“Classroom reality can never be predicted” (Brookfield pg. 18). Each learner comes to the classroom with “varying levels in their readiness to learn, their intellectual acuity and their previous experience in the subject” (Brookfield p. 19). As an adult educator you must not assume that standardized practices will work when instructing the same course with a different set of learners. Learners are diverse and no set of learners will respond to your instruction in the same manner.

By being a skillful teacher empowers you to have the ability to scan, appraise and take action to adjust your instructional strategies at any time throughout the session. By utilizing
Brookfield’s three phases allows the instructor to determine the best method to fit the current situation to benefit the learners.


After reading the assigned chapters in The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield I will continue to go into the learning environment prepared. This will include knowing the learners, having and maintaining current knowledge on the subject matter, having lesson plans developed, and a variety of instructional strategies to use for the session. I will start to prepare alternative instructional strategies and list these on my lesson plan in brackets beside each instructor activities and or learner activities. This will assist and guide me in changing focus at any given moment during the session.

I will continue to ensure “constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving my actions” (Brookfield p. 17). By utilizing Brookfield’s three phases of scanning, appraisal and action will be valuable to both the learners and myself. It will assist me in meeting the learner’s needs and will lessen or prevent me having to muddle through a teaching session. After each class session I will continue to engage in critical reflection on what went well and what needs to change in the session to benefit the learners.

To further my role of facilitator in adult education I will “continually attempt to shape teaching and learning environments into democratic spaces of knowledge and exchange” (The University of Sydney). I will accomplish this by collecting feedback from learners and colleagues, engaging in critical reflection and reading scholarly articles.


Brookfield, Stephen, D., (2005), The Skillful Teacher On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom

The University of Sydney, Brookfield’s Four Lenses: Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, Retrieved from

Click to access Brookfield_summary.pdf

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Instructional Strategy

Think Pair Share Instructional Strategy

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Assignment 4

During this module of the Provincial Instructors Diploma Program (PIDP) the focus was curriculum development. I have focused on developing a Professional Practice course in semester two of the Practical Nursing Program. The content of this course is
based on professional issues in relation to the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) practice. Some of the content is this course will construct upon previous knowledge and skills acquired in Professional Practice 1 in semester one of the program. It will also include integration of new content and skills.

In this paper, I will supply rationales for the purpose of the course, why I chose to use performance objectives, a course syllabus, and the chosen learning activities for this course. And explain why curriculum integration and alignment is important in curriculum development.

Assignment #1.1
1. Describe the purposes/need that your course addresses: Why is this course needed? What is needed in the course in terms of content and/or delivery?

This course, Professional Practice 2 will be in semester two of the Practical Nursing Program. As with all courses in the Practical Nursing Program, this course is compulsory. The pre-requisite for Professional Practice 2 is successful completion of Professional Practice 1 with a minimum grade of sixty-five percent. Within this course it is essential to introduce new content as well as continue to build upon the prior knowledge and experience developed in semester one and clinical practicum experience.

Nurses have a mandate from their licensing body to provide safe competent care to the public that they serve. This course will enhance the learner’s knowledge and skills on previous learned components on the nursing process, critical thinking, and professional practice from semester one. The learner will learn new theory regarding regulatory bodies, self-regulation, legal and ethical implications on LPN practice, identify guidelines and legislation that influence LPN practice, the LPN leadership role, leadership styles, collaborative practice, and the role and mandate of a union. These are all vital
components of nursing practice.

This course requires the learner to have the following resources. Textbooks, IPAD, internet, assess to the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia website. The learner will need to be given the course outline and schedule on the first day of class. This will ensure that the learner has a clear understanding of the course objectives, evaluation methods, dates of evaluations, grading criteria, and how to contact the Instructor. The Instructor will need to review the curriculum, obtain copies of the course outline and schedule prior to the start of the course. It is the Instructor’s
responsibility to develop lesson plans that align with the curriculum and course outline to ensure that the learning objectives are being taught. This will assist the instructor to effectively facilitate the learner’s learning. Each class the Instructor will require a power point projector, whiteboard, markers, eraser, flipcharts and tape.

2. Why have you chosen either the CBE approach or the OBE approach?

I have chosen the competency based education (CBE) approach, as this approach ensures that the graduate has the basic competencies (knowledge, judgment, skills and attitude) to serve a specific profession. This type of education ensures that the learner
has achieved a minimal level of competence in a specific job category. It includes “fives levels of competencies; novice, advanced beginner, competence, proficiency, and expertise“(PIDP 3210 Curriculum Development). The learner begins with mastering basic competencies and as they advance through the program they will achieve a higher knowledge and application of these competencies.

With the CBE approach the learner is required to be self directed in their learning, build upon their prior knowledge and experiences, utilize critical thinking skills, and engage in transformational learning, and accept responsibility for their learning. These are all essential components of nursing practice. This form of education includes both objectives and performance based measurements aligned to desired outcomes (Competency-Based Nursing Education) and contains practical components (PDIP 3210 Curriculum Development). Competency based education ensures employers that the graduate has meet the required minimum competencies to work at an entry level position in a specific job classification. And aligns the course content to meet the licensure requirements the specific profession.

The Practical Nursing Curriculum in British Columbia is based on Jean Watson’s theory of humanist and caring model. The curriculum is formatted in a spiral model. With each semester the learner is required to construct upon prior knowledge and
experience while learning new content and skills.

Assignment #1.2
3. Why did you choose Performance Objective, Confluent Objective or Expressive Objectives? How do these objectives reflect the level of learning expected of the students? How are these ten related to each other?

I chose to use performance objectives in this course as “performance objectives are a detailed description of the criteria that the students must be able to do when they conclude a unit of instruction” (Writing Objectives, ITMA). Each performance objective includes a behavior that the learner must achieve as outlined in the curriculum
and course syllabus. By using performance objectives the learner has a clear understanding of the requirement that must be achieved in order to be successful in the course. “Performance objectives are measurable and observable” (Writing Objectives, ITMA).

The performance objectives used in my course development are crucial outcomes for the student to master to ensure safe and competent nursing care during clinical practicum experience and as a graduate nurse. And will ensure that the graduate has the employability skills to enter the profession of nursing.

These ten performance objective are not related by subject. Together they produce basic competencies for the beginning practitioner. These performance objectives ensure the licensing body (CLPNBC) that the learner has the knowledge, skills, judgment and attitude to provide safe competent care to the public.

Assignment # 2
4. Describe reasons for your choice of Course Outline format. (Booklet, brochure, other)

I opted to use a course syllabus for this course as it allows for organization of all related information in a one document. This includes Instructor contact information, instructor work hours, purpose of the course, course objectives, compulsory prerequisites, supplies and texts required for the course. As well as the evaluation methods and dates,
grading criteria, course policies and any other relevant data.

A course syllabus provides potential students, registered students, Instructors and stakeholders with a clear understanding of the course requirements and content that will be covered during the course. Students registered in this course will utilize this document as a reference throughout the course. “A course syllabus clearly sets out course requirements and policies regarding grading, academic integrity, student conduct, late work and other issues. Students are responsible for reading and understanding the syllabus, the terms of which thy implicitly agree to abide by when they take the course”
(Preparing a Syllabus). This will prevent any discrepancy between the learner and the Instructor. An example of a stakeholder who may review the course syllabus is an employer looking at the outcomes of the course to ensure the graduate will have the minimum competencies in a specific job classification. It aides the Instructor in organization and planning of the course. Examples of how a course syllabus will aide the Instructors are; course structure, assignments, exams, learning methods and review sessions.

5. Provide reasons for your choices related to Course Formats, Activities, Schedule, and Assessment/Evaluation activities.

I have chosen to schedule this course to be delivered over ten weeks for three hours a week. The rationale for this decision is that the learner will be more focused over a three hour period than a five hour period. As adult learners have other life commitments that make attending a course for a lengthy time difficult.

I have utilized a variety of learning methods to benefit the characteristics of adult learners and promote a positive learning environment. These include activities to keep the learner engaged, motivated, work collaboratively, allowing for autonomy and self-reflection.

This course incorporates two assignments into this course they “supplements and complement formal evaluations of learning” (Classroom Assessment Techniques, page 26). These assignments will allow the learner the opportunity to research the topic and “provides students with the practice that allows them to learn and apply the material presented in class” (Classroom Assessment Techniques, page 356). This will allow me to provide positive feedback to the learners in a timely manner. At this stage I may set-up tutorials if required.

The rationale for incorporating evaluations every three weeks is to allow me to assess if the learner’s comprehension of the material delivered to date. It gives the learner the opportunity to reflect on their strengths and deficits, and the ability to make any necessary changes during the course. Provides the “Instructor to reflect on the effectiveness of my teaching methods” (Incorporating Dynamic Assessments in Evaluation of Adult Learner).

Using assignments and evaluations in this module prevents having a heavily weighted midterm and final evaluation by distributing the marks more equally throughout the course. This has many advantages to the learner. It will aid in stress reduction while increasing their concentration. This technique allows for self-reflection on their learning
and their study habits throughout the course.

6. Why is curriculum integration and alignment important? How would you illustrate this for your curriculum; e.g. include your responses to p. 164 or p.166.

Curriculum integration and alignment “address both academic and industry skill standards and connect academic content with the real world through interesting, practical applications” (Integrating Curriculum: Lessons for Adult Education from Career and Technical Education). It is important to connect the academic content to preparing the learner for employment (Integrating Curriculum: Lessons for Adult Education from Career and Technical Education). This is accomplished by integrating employability skills into the curriculum. This prepares the student to transition from student to worker in specific job classification. And ensures the employer that the applicant has the minimum requirements for the specific job.

It is imperative to have integration between curriculum documents to ensure that the goals and objectives of the course are being met and no gaps occur. What is outlined in the curriculum must be written into the lesson plan which are aligned with the learning goals. Educators must carefully align assessments and evaluations to the outcomes of the course.

When developing curriculum it is essential to “use multiple instructional approaches, as is common in curriculum integration, also enable students to master more challenging concepts and skills” (Integrating Curriculum: Lessons for Adult Education from Career and Technical Education). This will assist the learner with securing a job, future education, or advancement in their role or career (Integrating Curriculum: Lessons for Adult Education from Career and Technical Education).

I will provide an example of how I have illustrated curriculum alignment with the materials that I developed in this module of the PIDP. The objective on my lesson plan is, by the end of this lesson, each student will be able to identify the characteristics and competencies of a critical thinker and apply critical thinking skill to their practice. On course schedule week five the content is related to performance objective E.1 to E.5.On the course DACUM chart, goal E is to analyze critical thinking skills. Performance objective E.1 is to describe critical thinking; E.3 is to define critical thinking competencies, and E.5 is to apply critical thinking to practice. This lesson plan is alignedwith the course outline and the DACUM chart.

It is essential for all nurses to develop and utilize critical thinking skills in nursing practice. Critical thinking in nursing is a “systematic approach to problem solving, out-come directed thinking, based on principles of the nursing process, and re-evaluating” (Critical Thinking in Practical/Vocational Nursing) to ensure the best outcomes for patients.

Assignment # 3
7. Provide reasons for your choices related to the Instructor and Learner Activities, Timing, Resources, and other key elements of your lesson.

By displaying the quotation on the screen, I will acquire the learner’s attention. This will focus the learner’s attention to the expectations for the lesson. By clearly identifying the objectives of the lesson will assist the learner in preparing for an evaluation on the subject matter by knowing what they are expected to learn from this lesson.

Posing the two questions for a pre-assessment will engage the participates in a discussion regarding the content of today’s lesson. It will allow me to determine the previous experience and knowledge of the learners in the room concerning the subject matter. This will give me the opportunity to identify if the learner’s have prepared for the lecture by completing the required pre-readings. And readjust my lesson if necessary, based on the level of prior knowledge in the class.

Throughout the lesson the learners will engage in active learning. I will link clinical practice examples to the content being delivered. This will reinforce to the learners that the material is relevant to nursing practice.

This lesson plan includes all the domains of learning, affective, cognitive, and psychomotor. While addressing the characteristics of the adult learner by building on their prior knowledge and life experiences. It takes into consideration different learning styles by utilizing a variety of instructional techniques while keeping the learner challenged, motivated, and engaged.

As a facilitator I will provide practice examples, provide positive feedback, and encourage participants to actively participate by asking question or offering information. I will respond to all questions promptly with clarity. I have included a break approximately half way through the lecture. This will allow the learners to tend to their nutritional needs, stretch, and network with other learners.

Adult learners are usually self-directed; accept responsibility for their own learning, have varied learning styles, and different knowledge levels regarding the content to be learned. Therefore I chose to utilize a variety of learning methods. I have included a power point lecture, discussions, activities, case scenario, and graphics.

I have chosen to use various forms of media for this lesson. By using more than one form of media keeps the learners stimulated and engaged throughout the lesson. By using a power point presentation during the lecture part of the lesson, the learner will visualize the key points of the lecture. The handouts will provide an area to take notes; act as a reference at a later date, and aid in preparing for an evaluation. The use of flip charts will facilitate the learners to record their group’s ideas, comments or thoughts, and assist the group with reporting back to the class. It will also assist other learners by having the ability to visualize the group’s work during the reporting back, these charts will be posted throughout the room for referencing for the remainder of the lesson. As an Educator I must be cognizant some students may be visual learners. The video adds a visual graphic component to the lesson plan.

The case scenario will provide the learners the opportunity to link the theory learned to practice while utilizing critical thinking skills, working collaboratively and engage in problem solving. All of these skills are essential in nursing practice. After the allotted time given for the case scenario, we will reconvene as a large group and discuss the case scenario. This is vital so that I can ensure to add in any omitted components or data during this process that the learners did not identify.

I need to assess the learner’s knowledge on the content delivered in the lesson. I will present each learner with a paper and ask them to briefly summarize the main points of today’s lesson. I will collect their papers for review and provide individual feedback. By examining these will dictate how much of a review I need to do at the start of the next class.

In providing closure to the lesson I can emphasize the main points of the lecture and inform the learner how this lesson will flow into the next lesson. Assigning a journal entry for the learners engages the learner in self-reflection.

Each activity is timed to have the student participating in active learning (Student Engagement Techniques). These activities will engage the student through a variety of learning methods. Each activity or learning method is scheduled for a ten to twenty minute time frame. “The average adult can process an item for ten to twenty minutes before mental fatigue or boredom occurs and attention drifts” (Student Engagement Techniques, pg 102).

8. Describe how the activities of this lesson/workshop will ensure/promote a positive learning environment.

A positive learning environment is created in many ways, not only the physical environment, but also the learning that occurs within the physical environment.As an educator I am aware that each student learns differently and I have a responsibility to facilitate their learning . I must incorporate a variety of learning activities and have the ability to alter the delivery if I sense that the method is impeding the learners learning.

“Emotions impact learning in two distinct ways: the emotional climate in which learning occurs and the degrees to which emotions are associated with the learning content” (Student Engagement Techniques, page 35). Therefore it is essential for the Instructor to create a positive learning environment including incorporating it into
learning activities.

“Learner centered teaching allows the learners to think, solve problems, reflect on what and why they are learning it, motivates the learner, allow them control of their learning, and encourages collaboration” ( Faculty Focus, Five Characteristics of Learner-Center Teaching). All of these are essential components in promoting a positive learning
environment for the adult learner.

The activities of the lesson plan will promote a positive learning environment by ensuring organization of the lesson, accommodating the learners different learning styles, keeping the learners motivated and engaged, fostering peer relationships and and working collaboratively.


Curriculum development or curriculum revision is a multi step process. The steps include “determine the topic of investigation to assess, formulate the issues, questions and sources of information, describe the desired situation, identify the needed content, gather relevant information needed by decision makers, recommend a method of delivery, document your research, review information collected and verify, report and recommend” (Curriculum Development Course Guide).

It must be determined if the curriculum will be competency based education or outcome base education. Will it include “integrating employability skills into the curriculum” (Curriculum Development Course Guide). When developing curriculum for the adult learner I must take into consideration the characteristics of the adult learner.

Curriculum documents are a structured approved document containing what is to be taught within a designated course or program. These documents have an impact on the learner, instructor and educational facility. They will contain the course overview, learning objectives, learning goals, time frames, required resources, suggested instructional delivery methods and evaluation methods.

“Effective instruction and learning depends upon good curriculum” (Curriculum Development Course Guide).


Anema,, Marion G., McCoy, J., Competency-Based Education Guide to Achieving Outstanding Learner Outcomes – Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 23, 2013,

Angelo, Thomas, A., Cross, Patricia, Classroom Assessment Techniques, Second Edition

Barkley, Elizabeth, F., Student Engagement Techniques A Handbook for College Faculty, 2010

Blooms Taxonomy – Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 9, 2012,

Chernus, Kathleen, Fowler, Donna, Integrating Curriculum: Lessons for Adult Education from Career and Technical Education, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 21, 2013,

College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia Website,

Fenwick, Tara, J., Incorporating Dynamic Assessment in Evaluation of Adult Learners, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 24, 2013,

Gebbie, Kristine, M., Gill, Elizabeth Standish, Competency to Curriculum Toolkit – Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 25, 2013,

Potter, P. A., & Perry, A. G., Canadian Fundamentals of Nursing, 4th Edition

Quine, Thom, What are Performance Objectives, Retrieved from the World Wide Web, on April 2, 2013,

School of Instructor Education, April 2012, PIDP 3210 Curriculum Development Course Guide, Vancouver, BC: Vancouver Community College

Washington University in St. Louis, The Teaching Center, Preparing a Syllabus, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 13, 2013,

Weimer, Maryellen, PhD., Effective Teaching Strategies, Retrieved from the World Wide Web, on April 20, 2013,

West Virginia University – Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 25, 2013, Materials/Competency-Based-Curriculum

White, Lois, Critical Thinking in Practical/Vocational Nursing

Writing Objectives (Lesson 6) – ITMA, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 23, 2013,

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