Is the Learning Experience Significant? Using Fink’s Taxonomy to (Re)Design and Evaluate Asynchronous Distance Learning Courses

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**This webinar is part of the OLC Accelerate 2022 Best-in-Track webinar series!**

Evidence-based instructional strategies provide effective frameworks for designing both in-person and distance learning experiences that effectively achieve course learning outcomes. Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning (FTSL) is an evidence-based instructional strategy originally developed for in-person courses that describes six kinds of learning goals which exist in interwoven domains. When learning experiences promote interaction between different domains, a significant learning experience that lasts beyond course completion is more likely to occur. For instructors teaching asynchronous distance learning courses, how can we design learning experiences that promote meaningful and long-lasting change in the learner’s life? And, how do we evaluate and assess said experiences?

During this session, we will explore both questions using pedagogical principles that connect with FTSL, as well as insights from a recent scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) study implemented during Autumn semester 2021. In the SoTL study, we evaluated if a student’s learning experience in a 100% asynchronous distance learning course designed using FTSL contributed toward positive changes in their health promotion behaviors that lasted beyond course completion. Preliminary findings from the SoTL study demonstrate evidence of student learning gains in five of six learning domains (foundational knowledge, application, integration, the human dimension, and caring; according to Fink1). Learning gains also connect with statistically significant shifts in some student health promotion behaviors, including strengthened behavioral intentions related to safe medication use, storage, and disposal, increased likelihood to avoid medication misuse behaviors, and increased confidence toward teaching others medication safety and helping others whose use of substances has them concerned.

Therefore, this session will help attendees explore questions such as, how do instructors use FTSL to (re)design asynchronous distance learning courses? What are examples of assessments that support achieving course goals around significant learning, and what methodologies exist to evaluate the effectiveness of said assessments toward achieving these outcomes? What research strategies can instructors utilize to evaluate if a student’s learning experience on a whole-class scale produces long-lasting and meaningful change in their life?

Key Takeaways:

Attendees will leave with course design principles that aim to reach online students with meaningful learning experiences, as well as research strategies to assess achievement of significant learning goals both during and after course completion.

Intended Audience:

Design thinkers, faculty, researchers

Speaker Bio
Molly Downing, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor – The Ohio State University

Molly Downing, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy at The Ohio State University. At Ohio State, she designs and teaches several online courses that cover a variety of drug-related topics. Outside of the classroom, she serves as the Associate Director for Generation Rx and as a staff member within the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery. Her research interests include medication safety, prescription drug misuse prevention education for youth audiences, and instructional design for online educational experiences. She holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University.
Cynthia Canan, Ph.D.

Lecturer, Pharmacy – The Ohio State University

Cynthia Canan, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the College of Pharmacy at The Ohio State University. At Ohio State, she teaches several courses that cover a variety of topics including science communication and drug safety principles. Outside of the classroom, she is the Director of the Generation Rx laboratory at COSI, which is an innovative drug education research hub that promotes science learning, health career exploration, medication safety and prescription drug misuse prevention. Dr. Canan is also the Faculty Director of the Pills, Potions, and Poisons high school summer enrichment program. She holds a Ph.D. in immunology from The Ohio State University. Currently, she is interested in understanding effective public communication methods when discussing controversial science.