The 3E’s of Education: Engage, Evaluate, Evolve

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

How can you easily incorporate innovation into the student learning experience? Be smart with your LMS by organizing it into three simple but powerful pedagogical learning strategies. Learn how we motivated students to “Engage,” “Evaluate” and “Evolve” as we explain how the development of one professional Ethics course became a unique example of our educational framework. 

Extended Abstract

3E Framework: At one point our LMS shell was structured around rather conventional activities: Introduction, Discussion, Assignments, Quizzes, and Wrap-Up. While such a template made for a consistent student experience, it also restricted creativity, locking our course developers into predictable and rigid learning activities. We developed a more flexible framework—Engage, Evaluate, and Evolve—that we called the 3E’s, which were grounded in pedagogical best practices.

The first 15 minutes of the Lightning talk: Engage: We’ll explain that “Engage” activities are specifically learner centered. Students tap into their own interests by sharing and analyzing their own resources, whether it be podcasts on justice, movies about morals, or their own professional stories involving ethical dilemmas. In the first module, we created a “What’s Your Ethical Type?” test where students calculate their personal type; in this way, students begin to see that even without knowing formal ethical theories, they are already knowledgeable about ethics, a fact which we can use as a foundation for the rest of the course. In these “Engage” activities, right in the first module, students learn to lean on their prior knowledge of the subject matter and value their life experiences that shaped their current ethics. In this way, we give students early successes in order to encourage student retention. Lastly, each “Engage” activity concludes with a self-assessment. The instructor does not grade these “Engage” activities, but rather the students grade themselves which is behavior that is intrinsically and ethically motivated. Students take responsibility for their own learning, efforts, and integrity. This self-assessment quiz is composed of just one question. As an ethics class, we emphasize issues of respect for self and other so that students honestly answer the one question of whether they have contributed substantially to the social learning of the entire class.

The second 15 minutes: Evaluate: The activities associated with “Evaluate,” which build on the “Engage” activities, are not only to check the students’ knowledge of what they learned, but to bring out their brilliance. While “Engage” activities supported personal interests and boosted the self-esteem of students to trust their own prior knowledge, these “Evaluate” activities were designed to show students the gaps or blind spots in their ethical knowledge. Students can think they understand the material, but only with challenging or interactive activities can they identify gaps, especially with the coaching of the instructor.  Identifying such gaps in student knowledge can create intrinsic motivation in students because they suddenly see what they are missing and eagerly seek to expand their limited perspective. By using interactive and realistic contexts for the ethical dilemmas, students imagine the proposed situation as if it were based in a real-life. Consequently, this kind of cognitive exercise allow students to weigh alternative actions as well as consequences, thereby aiding the transference of learning to real behavior.

Importantly, we wanted these "Evaluate" activities to be centered around student choice and agency. We used two tools to set up the ethical scenarios: 1) Mastery Paths, a built-in tool of Canvas, that enhances personalized learning; 2) Rise 360, a tool for responsive design, in which we created different branching scenarios. Many learners feel as if they lack control over or agency in their learning. By giving them some control, giving them a choice about what they want to read or view, students choose to go down a specific mastery path, on which they are offered different resources. For instance, given their background and preferences, students can choose either news headlines about South Dakota Sioux, income inequality, or social media. Mastery Paths and Rise 360 give educators the opportunity “to show, not tell” what students need to learn. Let me explain: typically, feedback explicitly tells learners that they are "correct" or "incorrect" which is not as helpful as showing them how to draw conclusions or how to examine the consequences of their decisions. Rather than handing the student an “answer,” students are allowed to struggle with issues and make their own decisions. In Rise 360, we structured feedback to “show” learners what happened as a result of their choices, requiring them to make their own connections within their professional ethical dilemma.

Importantly, these “Evaluate” activities create active learning and social communities where student work as a team to educate and evaluate each other. For example, in one module, students are introduced to an ethical issue of global portions having to do with a pandemic. Students choose a mastery path, and then they learn to handle multicultural realities by being given resources to consider class, ethnic, racial, age, and gender implications. The students then teach each other about what they learned from the information found on their path. In a global world, we are always working in teams, so each group makes a decision about how to respond to the global ethical issue by creating a press release. In this way, learning communities allow each learner to bring their own perspectives and experience to the whole group by sharing and debating.  

The third 15 minutes: Evolve: The activities involving “Evolve” are a culmination of the discussions, exercises, or assignments of the “Engage” and “Evaluate” sections of the course. The “Evolve” is where students reflect on, concisely summarize, and expand on their learning by visually expressing it through the use of Microsoft’s SmartArt. Students don’t necessarily need any art skills, but what they are building, over the span of an eight week online course, is a tangible artifact of what they have learned through the course. In each module, they have read or viewed new material, but now they are given the opportunity to connect it to their prior knowledge. Visualizing how the new material relates to prior knowledge will strengthen their grasp on the new material and help them to remember it later. In the “Evolve,” they make connections between present, past, and even future learning. The visual image they produce represents their ethical decision-making steps, the tools that they will use to take action in the world.  Through their own act of creation, they design their own visual representation of their ethical and rational decision map.