Learner -Centered Course Design for Competency Based Education and Quality Benchmark Measures

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This presentation will address how faculty become the Instructional Designers to provide a learner-centered approach to competency-based education to include quality benchmark measures.


Nearly fifteen years of experience in higher education administration working with adult learners and distance education including online, self-paced, and accelerated programs. Teaching and Research areas of interest include health informatics, health policy, health promotion, strategic planning, and strategic management. Margaret has earned at Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. During the 2005-2006 academic years Margaret served as a Fulbright Grantee with the National Institute of Hygiene in Warsaw, Poland. Teaching Experience includes: Public Health, Healthcare Informatics, Strategic Planning, and Strategic Management. Research Experience includes: Health Behavior and Health Promotion. Certifications: Online Learning Consortium Online Teaching Certificate, Quality Matters Applying Rubric Certification and Quality Matters Peer Review Certification.

Extended Abstract

Traditionally, faculty teaching online tend to setup courses in Learning Management Systems (ex. Blackboard, Moodle and D2L) the way they believe the student should be learning the content and how they perceive interaction throughout the course. However, most faculty have transitioned to a new learning environment referred to as “Student-Centered Course Design” also known as “Learner-Centered Course Design”. The learner-centered course design typically includes student-content interaction, student-student interaction and student-instructor interaction. Each type of interaction doesn’t necessarily require the use of a particular type of learning activity or assessment for a grade. However, it does require intention, planning and instructional design to stay focused on the learner. Specifically, a faculty member should ask themselves a few main questions such as: What do I want my students to learn in terms of content?  What are the learner’s preferences in content learning and interactions? and What tools are available to meet the needs of the learner for learning and interaction? For faculty it may be challenging to find the balance between the three types of interactions (student-content, student-student & student-instructor interaction) if they have traditionally used only one or two types of interactions.

Therefore, depending on the resources available at a given institution the faculty member maybe required to become the instructional designer of their courses. Insight on the learner’s needs are often expressed in the End of Course Evaluations through Likert scale scores and qualitative comments. The faculty are responsible to interpret the comments and adjust the content and design to become more learner centered. Typically, this is not achieved on the first attempt and one course offering. Achieving the goal of the most effective course design that provides a learner centered approach may require multiple attempts. A minimum of offering a course at least twice to determine that the design is achieving the intended goal is necessary prior to making additional changes to the design. The learner-centered course design is also dependent on if it is required or an elective course offering. Required courses may have the disadvantage that all students must successfully complete the course to complete their degree/certificate program regardless of their specific initial interest in the topic. Electives may have the advantage that only those students interested in each topic register for the course. Therefore, students enter the course with various motivation levels to the learner-centered approach. The goal is to find a learner-centered approach that regardless of the course status (required vs. elective) the focus of the course design is on the learning style of the learner. In competency-based education the interactions must also achieved gainful knowledge, skills and attitude needed for their careers.

The goal of this presentation is to explore the benefits and challenges experienced by an OLC Teaching Certified faculty member with a track in Instructional Design. In addition, the presentation will discuss the faculty members confidence in what is needed for “Learner-Centered” course design and the challenges to achieve quality measures that may be needed for competency-based education. Specifically, the presentation will describe the various approaches taken in each course and discuss the role of the course type (introductory vs. advanced) influences the benefits and challenges a faculty may encounter. In addition, the presentation will discuss benefits and challenges of the tools available to faculty by the institution for both faculty and students. Often an institution may have limited tools integrated within the gradebook and/or may have different tools available at no cost to the students and different tools available to faculty. The faculty members instructional design skills and creativity in course content become critical to achieve the student-content interaction, student-student interaction and student-instructor interaction. In conclusion, the presentation will discuss how the team based-approach between instruction designers doing a generic course shell which provides the foundation and gives the faculty member the option to edit as needed assists and achieving learner-centered course design.