Syllabus and Information for: TEAC859S09

Events, Topics, and DUE Dates

01/27/2009Unified Learning Theory; Expertise
02/11/2009Designing Effective Instruction
02/25/2009Design of Everyday Things
03/04/2009Cognitive Load Theory
04/01/2009Efficiency in Learning
04/08/2009Mastery versus Performance
04/15/2009Performance Related Feedback
04/15/2009Practice and Expertise
04/22/2009Technology and Learning
04/29/2009Summarizing Thoughts


Course Prerequisites
About Dave Brooks
Course Content
Course Management; WWW
Communication; E-mail
Participation in Discussion
Course Books
Written Assignments
Late Penalties
Technical Details
References; Face Validity
How This Course Works
Scholar Practitioner Model

Due Date: 01/14/2009

Description: Introductions

We use the first event in the course to introduce ourselves to one another and to learn about one another’s interests and goals.

There are three things for you to do.

First, contribute to the discussion about introductions that already is posted. Access this from "Discussion" in your "MAIN MENU."

Second, consider adding to the personal data section. Under the "MAIN MENU" there is an option, "Personal Data." Anything you enter there will be available to anyone having access to the course "Roster" (from your "MAIN MENU" list). This includes everyone registered in the course or participating in the course. Therefore, you should consider what is posted. Your name and e-mail are posted. The only way to access the course is using a password, but there are no controls over sharing access. That is, someone with access may grant access to someone for whom access is not intended.

Third, there is a system of assignment responding that you access under "Assignment" on your "MAIN MENU." Only I see this. Be sure that you are able to submit assignments.

Remember, both Assignments and Discussions must be LOCKED before others can see them. No one can see them while they are being edited.

{I can do this, but it is not easy for me; I have to be wearing my computer programing hat to do it.}

Hear my take on this course.

Question 1.1
(<= 1500 char) Why did you take this course? What do you expect to learn? (Submit this in writing using the "Assignment" option on your "MAIN MENU" of the course Web software.)

Read the course syllabus and information. Ask questions via e-mail as needed.


Due Date: 01/27/2009

Description: Unified Learning Theory; Expertise

NOTE: Although assignments usually are due on Wednesdays, this one is due on TUESDAY. I expect to be having a hip replacement on Wednesday.

If you are going to have a good handle on instructional design, you need excellent models of how people learn. Finding a working model of how students learn is very difficult. Three things are involved in learning new knowledge: prior knowledge, ability, and motivation. Until very recently, these entities have been treated separately. As the result of considerable prior work, I and five colleagues have developed a unified learning model (ULM). This model is fully empirically supported.

This course is about to launch into some ideas about design and instruction that are likely to seem foreign to you. They probably were covered in a course you’ve had in educational psychology, but were not emphasized and likely have been forgotten. Miller (1956) pointed out that, while the amount of memory one can have is extensive, the amount one can access at a given instant is limited. This notion evolved into the concept of working memory formally expressed in 1974 [Baddeley, A. D., & Hitch, G. J. 1974. Working memory. In G. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation. (Vol. VIII, pp. 47-90). New York: Academic Press].

We’ll read early chapters of the draft of the book currently being published. This draft includes one small and one big innovation.

The small innovation is to build into the model the idea that working memory capacity and ability amount to the same thing. This notion has been around for a decade, however.

The big innovation is to recognize that motivation amounts to working memory allocation.

It also is a reality that many educators have beliefs in systems that lack empirical support. For that reason, and especially because many favor highly open-ended instructional strategies, it would be good to read something that is deeply research based that addresses those issues.

We also will read a paper on how expertise develops that was published Scientific American.

Hear my take on the evolution of the ULM.

Question 2.1
(<=2500 char) Identify the three parts of the ULM and describe briefly what each means.

Question 2.2
(<= 3500 char) Enumerate the five tenets of the ULM and describe briefly what each means.

Question 2.3
(<= 3500 char) Identify the idea or notion in the ULM that you LEAST BELIEVE. What would you want to read more about before you were convinced to change your mind? Discuss your choice.

Question 2.4
(<= 2500 char) In the article, The Expert Mind, identify the aspect or aspects that you found most surprising.

In this course, it never pays to delay your reading; there is a lot to read.

"The Unified Learning Model" Shell et al.

The Expert Mind (5.5 Mb, from Scientific American)


Due Date: 02/11/2009

Description: Designing Effective Instruction

If you seek a job as an instructional designer, it is highly likely that persons interviewing you who were trained more than a decade ago will expect you to be conversant with the methods and terminology used in books such as MRK. There is little covered by MRK that we will not also cover again from a more modern perspective.

Hear my take on why I chose MRK.

Question 3.1
(<= 3500 char) Use Web resources to summarize and also cite examples of definitions of these basic concepts from behavioral psychology -- positive and negative reinforcement and punishment; shaping; and extinction. Provide examples of where and when you use these concepts and why they may or may not have worked for you.

Question 3.2
(<= 6000 char) Summarize the chapters of MRK (skipping Chapter 10) stressing ideas that you haven't known before this course OR that you don't believe. Identify something that you think of as missing from the MRK design process? [That is, what’s something that you think is important to take into account when designing instruction that they did not mention?] Justify what you have identified.

Question 3.3
(<= 6000 char) Summarize Chapter 10 of MRK. Be prepared especially to distinguish between relative and absolute standards. Discuss evaluation instruments. Pay special attention to the evaluation of affective objectives. Be specific about why evaluation of affective objectives is important.

In this course, it never pays to delay your reading; there is a lot to read.

Designing Effective Instruction (Gary Morrison, Steven Ross, Jerrold Kemp), 5th Edition, John Wiley, (Amazon).

Review the notions of behavioral psychology. Though behaviorism is in disfavor, the terminology of behavioral psychology remains widely used (and misused). This event involves a discussion of the MRK book. MRK is one of several texts that set forth systematics to approaching instructional designs. This event involves a discussion of the MRK book. MRK is one of several texts that set forth systematics to approaching instructional designs.


Due Date: 02/25/2009

Description: Design of Everyday Things

Donald Norman was the founding head of the Department of Cognitive Science at the University of California – San Diego. After several intervening recent positions, he now works from Northwestern University. Norman is acknowledged as a leader in cognitive science and especially in human factors. The book, Design of Everyday Things, was published about twenty years ago. In fact, the original title of the hardcover book was “The Psychology of Everyday Things.” His most recent book is entitled Emotional Design.

My objective is to have you transform the Norman terminology and concepts so that they apply to Web teaching. Norman's terms to think about include: wide and narrow versus thin and deep; connectionism; slips; physical constraints; logical constraints; cultural constraints; making things visible; and the gulfs of execution and evaluation. Think about the applications of these terms outside of the contexts mentioned in the book, especially as they apply in schools and in Web-based teaching.

Hear my take on Norman and his book.

Question 4.1
(<=2000 char) Describe your reactions to this reading. Why do you believe you’ve had those reactions?

Question 4.2
(<=4000 char) Write one or two paragraphs in which you use the new terms introduced by Norman to describe an instructional problem in your current setting. Also, consider how Norman would resolve such a problem and include a possible resolution using his terms. For example, is there a situation in your work environment where feedback related to performance is so sparse that work quality may be impaired?

Question 4.3
(<=3500 char) Describe something you’ve asked your staff or students to do that violates the principles presented in this reading. How would you change the request or system to adhere to the design principles you’ve learned?

Question 4.4
(<3500 char) Describe something you’ve been asked to do in your job that violates the principles in this reading. How would you change the request or system to adhere to the design principles you’ve learned?

In this course, it never pays to delay your reading; there is a lot to read.

The Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman). Two versions of this book are available. The hard cover book is entitled The Psychology of Everyday Things, Basic Books, New York, NY 1988, ISBN=0-465-06709-3. Although the titles are different, the two contents of these books are identical. Amazon


Due Date: 03/04/2009

Description: Cognitive Load Theory

The Unified Learning Model did not come as a random stroke of lightning. Much empirical work preceded it. John Sweller (followed by many others) was among the first to apply the notion of limited working memory to instruction. There are probably two hundred quantitative research papers in the literature involving studies of what is now called cognitive load.

When you really don't know anything, where do you start to learn? What examples work? How do we design materials for the true novice? Cognitive load theory gives us some means of addressing these issues.

Question 5.1
(<= 3500 char) Summarize the principal features of cognitive load theory as developed by Sweller and as expressed in the overview article by Cooper. Discuss examples of the features as demonstrated in your own experience.

Question 5.2
(<=2500 char) Watch the Virtual Classroom Example on the Clark-Nguyen-Sweller CD-ROM (back of your textbook). Write a brief summary of ways in which you violate the principles and what you might do to your instruction to reduce these violations. (It will be helpful to look at the “Applying Cognitive Load Theory to your Training” example as you think about ways to balance cognitive load in your instruction).

In this course, it never pays to delay your reading; there is a lot to read.

Everyone reads:
Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW, Cooper (P)

All of the following papers relate to cognitive load. Choose any two of these to read and discuss. Let the titles guide your choices.

The Influence of Cognitive load on Learning from Hypertext (P), [Niederhauser, D. S., Reynolds, R. E., Salmen, D. S., & Skolmoski, P. (2000) J. Educ. Comp. Rsch., 23, 237-255.] Niederhauser

Learning from Equations or Words (P) [Leung, M., Loew, R., & Sweller, J. (1997) Instructional Science, 25, 37-70.] Leung

Sweller, J., & Chandler, P. (1991). Evidence for Cognitive Load Theory. Cognition and Instruction. 8(4) pp 351-362.

Assimilating Complex Informantion(P) [Pollock, E., Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (2002) Learning and Instruction, 12, 61-86.] Pollock1 Pollock2

Sweller, J., van Merrienboer, J.J. G., & Paas, F.G.W.C., Cognitive architecture and instructional design. Educational Psychology Review, Vol 10, No. 3, 1998 pp 251-296

A Comparison of Cognitive Load Associated with Discovery Learning and Worked Examples, Tuovinen & Sweller, (P) [(1999). J. Educ. Psych., 91(2), 334-341.] Tuovinen1 Tuovinen2

Optimizing Learning for Examples Using Animated Pedagogical Agents (P) [Atkinson, R. K. (2002). J. Educ. Psych., 94(2), 416-427.] Atkinson1 Atkinson2 Atkinson3

The Expertise Reversal Effect (P) [Kalyuga, S., Ayres, P., Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (2003).Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 23-31.] Kalyuga et al

Paas, Renkl, Sweller. Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design: Recent Developments. Educational Psychology, 38 (1), 1-4

Structuring the Transition from Example Study to Problem Solving in Cognitive Skill Acquisition: A Cognitive Load Perspective, Renkl and Atkinson (P) [(2003), Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 15-22.] Renkl and Atkinson

Dwyer, F., et. al., Effect of Cognitive Load and Animation on Student Achievement International Journal of Instructional Media v. 33 no. 4 (2006) p. 379-88

Pawley, D., Ayres, P., Cooper, M., & Sweller, J. (2005, February). Translating Words Into Equations: A cognitive load theory approach Educational Psychology, 25(1), 75-97.


Due Date: 04/01/2009

Description: Efficiency in Learning

With the Unified Learning Model and several examples of supporting work such as the cognitive load theory, we are now able to begin to look more systematically at instruction.

This is the second time I’ve used Efficiency in Instruction as "the theory book." I recently used Mayer’s book, Multimedia Learning. I then used Clark and Mayer’s eLearning. Ultimately, I thought this new book brings the learning principles together in a more clear and useful way. All along I’ve held the view that there is little if any difference between the views of Sweller and Mayer. Clark is an especially effective writer, and I think she helped Mayer and did an even better job on the current effort with Sweller.

Clark, Nguyen, and Sweller use a research-based approach to develop guiding principles for developing instructional materials that result in the appropriate cognitive load for various types of learning situations

Question 6.1
(<= 6000 char) Watch the “Before and After Overload” lessons and the John Sweller video interviews on the CD from Clark/Nguyen/Sweller. Differentiate between intrinsic, extraneous, and germane forms of cognitive load.

Question 6.2
(<= 6000 char) Describe Clark/Nguyen/Sweller’s view of irrelevant vs. relevant cognitive load. Think about a learning situation in which you could apply these guidelines. Describe the situation and relate ways that you would employ these guidelines. Using the Clark/Nguyen/Sweller view of how humans process images, oral text, and written text, explain how your instruction would change if you were to follow these guidelines. What guideline do you believe is least likely to apply to your situation/context. Describe the situation/context and explain why you do not believe the principle is applicable in that context. Describe how you might conduct an experiment to determine if the guideline does apply in that context.

Question 6.3
(<= 3500 char) Explain how you would use the process to transition from worked examples to full practice in your class. Explain why successfully managing this transition is important.

Question 6.4
(<= 6000 char) Of the various guidelines cited by Clark/Nguyen/Sweller, select the one you find least believable. State why, and suggest tests that could be made to challenge this principle.

Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load, Clark, Nguyen, & Sweller, Amazon


Due Date: 04/08/2009

Description: Mastery versus Performance

I’m sure that all of us have taken courses where we just want to get things out of the way. We shoot for a grade, and we do the minimum needed to achieve that grade. On the other hand, there are some courses where we really try to learn the material and master it as well as we can. Numerous studies have shown that mastery learning outcomes are generally more effective and longer lasting than are performance learning outcomes. Therefore, trying to set mastery as a course goal is often reasonable and desirable.

It is not an easy matter. For example, setting mastery goals must receive institutional support. If the goals are perceived of as being too high, students simply complain and have pressure brought to bear on an instructor. And, some goals really are ridiculous – goals set by instructors who are way out of touch.

Four decades ago, there was quite a large national movement to set mastery as a goal. It involved the so-called Keller Plan; Fred Keller was among the first to set up such programs for learning. Well-designed Keller courses were extremely successful in terms of having more students achieve greater learning gains than had previously be experienced. The courses were largely dropped for several reasons.

The purpose of these readings is to introduce the notion of mastery learning and explore some of its parameters.

Hear my take on issues related to mastery learning.

Question 7.1
(<= 5000 char) Summarize the strategy used in Keller/PSI courses. Summarize the RESULTS from using this strategy. Suggest reasons why this strategy may be (have been) abandoned.

Question 7.2
(<= 5000 char) What are the “costs” and benefits of mastery and individualized instruction? At what point do the costs of mastery and individualized instruction outweigh the benefits? Would it be feasible in your context/situation? If not, might access to technologies increase the feasibility?

Question 7.3
(<= 2500 char) IF you have had experience with such a course, summarize your experience. How does/did it fit with the research and commentary read for this course target?

If you have not had experience with such a course, look for either a current research article on PSI (2000 or newer) and summarize that article or look for an institution that is using PSI and describe that usage.

The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring, B. Bloom [Educational Researcher, June/July 1984, pp. 4-16]

Effectiveness of Mastery Learning Programs: A Meta-Analysis [Kulik, J. A., Kulik, C. C., & Bangert-Drowns, R. L. (1990). Rev. Educ. Rsch., 60, 265-299.]

Concerns with some recent criticisms of the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI), Gallup and Allan

The Keller Plan: A Personal View, Silberman [J. Chem. Educ. 55, 97-97(1978)]

Darnon, C., Butera, F., & Harackiewicz, J. (2007, March). Achievement Goals in Social Interactions: Learning with Mastery vs. Performance Goals. Motivation & Emotion, 31(1), 61-70.


Due Date: 04/15/2009

Description: Performance Related Feedback

Training humans and training neural-net computer programs involves the same approach -- providing performance-related feedback. Experts can give themselves feedback; beginners almost always require teachers (or intelligent tutors) to provide feedback.

When one reads about feedback, however, the results are often discouraging. As often as not, right/wrong gets as good a learning outcome as does an extended answer about why a response is right or wrong. Further, while some tutoring systems are available in computer assisted instruction, students more often than not choose not to avail themselves of these powerful learning tools.

Hear my take on performance related feedback.

Question 8.1
(<= 3000 char) Enumerate as many ways as you can think of through which performance related feedback, both intentional and unintentional, is given to learners in a face-to-face course as well as an online course. Give examples of feedback that has not been successful and reasons you believe this.

Question 8.2
(<= 3000 char) Using the information you have discovered about feedback, describe changes or implementations that you plan to make to increase performance in your courses/workplace.

Performance-related Feedback: The Hallmark of Efficient Instruction (Brooks, Schraw, & Crippen, J. Chem. Educ., 2005, 82, 641-644

In computer-based systems, learners often don’t attend to feedback. Help Seeking and Help Design in Interactive Learning Environments [Aleven, V., Stahl, E., Schworm, S., Fischer, F., & Wallace, R., Rev. Educ. Rsch. 2003 (73), 277-320].

Developing Self-Regulated Learners: Goal Setting, Self-Evaluation, and Organizational Signals During Acquisition of Procedural Skills. Kitsantas, Reiser, Doster. Journal of Experimental Education, Vol 72 (4), 269-287


Due Date: 04/15/2009

Description: Practice and Expertise

How much can we expect of students? Who can become an expert? What does it take to become an expert? These are questions addressed in the reading.

We live in a world where it is easy to hold the belief that experts are born, not made. I held this belief until about five years ago. The Scientific American piece ("The Expert Mind") that we read during the first course assignment goes a long way toward dispelling that idea -- with the story of how expert chess masters were made.

Ericsson introduces the concept of deliberate practice. I actually believe that few graduate students are capable of deliberate practice in graduate courses. Yes, we all can engage in practice, and practice that leads to feedback is necessary to learn. However, to become an expert we must already have achieved sufficient expertise that we are honing are skills rather than learning them. Most graduate students in education simply have not done the reading or had the practical experience to make deliberate practice possible.

This is not unusual. For example, radiologists generally do not become expert in 'reading films' until their 2nd-3rd years of residency. Remember, this is after medical school and after a year of residency training, the total amount of 'medical experience' at that point amounting to over 15,000 hours! We generally don't think of having 15,000 hours invested in something as the time when we are just beginning to get good at it.

Hear my take on deliberate practice.

Question 9.1
(<= 2500 char) Of the data provided, identify the part of the Ericsson study that most surprised you; what did you least expect?

Question 9.2
(<= 3000 char) Think either of your professional life as a teacher in the context of the students you prepare, or your own professional life. Identify the effort you now think it will take to achieve expertise in that context.

Question 9.3
(<=3000 char) What conclusions can you draw about your teaching practices from the Johnson & Edmonds article? Think about what is feasible and what resources you would need to accomplish deliberate practice goals in your situation.

Question 9.4
(<=2500 char) Are people more likely to become experts while on the job or while taking classes? What contexts of a “job” inhibit deliberate practice? Can systems be changed to encourage development of experts?

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance (Psych. Rev., 100, 363-406, 1993)

Johnson, M., Tenenbaum, G., & Edmonds, W. (2006, June). Adaptation to physically and emotionally demanding conditions: the role of deliberate practice High Ability Studies, 17(1), 117-136


Due Date: 04/22/2009

Description: Technology and Learning

Many teachers and technologists immersed in technologies believe that learning can be enhanced greatly by using technologies. Is this view supported by research?
When two media are used in a controlled way in side-by-side experiments (treatment, control, so-called media comparison studies), the effects of media are very small. Typically, students rate most highly the medium from which they learn the least.

In fact, what seems to be learned over and over is that the nature of the design of instruction is more important than the nature of the technology. In other words, no magic comes from using a particular technology as a learning support tool. Keep in mind that one premise of this course is that Web teaching affords new and unique opportunities. However, just because one uses the Web does not mean that anything new or special happens.

Hear my take on the non-magic of technology.

Question 10.1
(<= 3500 char) Based on the articles provided, what aspects of technology promote effective learning? Support your conclusions with references from literature AND examples.

Question 10.2
(<= 2500 char) Describe one new application of technology (new to you) you’d like to implement in your course/workplace. What do you hope will come of this implementation.

Clark [(1994). Media and Method. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(3), 7-10.]

Liao reports on HyperMedia materials. (P) [(1998). Effects of HyperMedia Versus Traditional Instruction on Students' Achievement: A Meta-Analysis Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 30(4), 341-359.]

Fletcher-Flinn and Gravatt report on CAI programs.(P) [(1995). The efficacy of computer assisted instruction (CAI): A meta-analysis J. Educ. Comp. Rsch., 12(3), 219-242.]

Dillon and Gabbard report on hypermedia as an educational tool.(P) [(1998). Hypermedia as an Educational Technology: A Review of the Quantitative Research Literature on Learner Comprehension, Control, and Style Review of Educational Research, 68(3), 322-349.]

Kulik reported on the effectiveness of using technology. (P)


Due Date: 04/29/2009

Description: Summarizing Thoughts

In what ways has this course made you think about learning?

Question 11.1
(<= 6000 char) Identify an idea or concept you held BEFORE you took this course that you no longer hold. Support your choice with appropriate references -- not including any course texts or course papers specifically assigned.

Question 11.2
(<= 6000 char) Identify an idea or concept you held BEFORE you took this course that you now can support with appropriate literature-based references.

Question 11.3
(<= 2000 char) Find a recent reference (available on the Web or sent to the instructor as a pdf attachment to an e-mail) that would improve this course. The reference must be research based. If it is not (for example, the Silberman article in the mastery learning event), it should help enhance or focus discussion or elaborate issues. Then, write a brief justification of what the issue is and why this paper is an improvement.

Question 11.4
(<= 10,000 char) Revisit from the beginning of the course. Write a summary of what you have learned in this course as a “So what” for the classroom teacher. Suggested sub-headings include: a) the goal of teaching for expertise, b) directing working memory allocation, c) adapting teaching and instruction to expertise, d) maintaining student motivation, e) externally expanded working memory capacity, f) inquiry and high-motivation techniques, g) social constructivism, and, h) any others you deem appropriate.

Extra reading as needed.



I'm the sort who can never leave well enough alone. I change the books and readings in this course often based upon new research findings. As it happens, there have been enough findings in recent years to justify a major overhaul of the course. I did that in the Fall 07, and then proceeded to do it over again!

I've started using Efficiency in Learning as a text. This is the fourth text change I've made to 'cover' this material.

The changes were so massive that I asked several students to help me with the course redesign. While I did not accept any individual or collective changes wholesale, I did take many changes from each of them, and I did benefit greatly from their collective wisdom.

Thanks to Kelly Deter, Kathy Eitzmann, Dallas Malhiwsky, Collette O'Meara-Hanson, Heath Tuttle, and especially Beth L. Veale, the team leader.



You access all of the TEAC 859 materials provided starting from my Web site.

Access from the site permits anyone to view a course description, the course syllabus, and public readings. Enrolled students may access forms for submitting assignments, active discussions, and archived discussions.

To access your particular materials, enter your e-mail address. Your temporary password is the same 'name' that UNL BlackBoard uses for you, usually something like s-smith8.


Course Prerequisites

There are no specific prerequisites for this course.

It would be good if you have taken EDPS 854.


About Dave Brooks

I teach many of the technology courses at UNL. I work in the area of technology, and especially with high school chemistry teachers. You can learn more about me at my Web site or from my biosketch.

I post the doctoral dissertations of the recent doctoral students I have mentored.


Course Content

Instruction -- activity (or activities) designed to bring about a specific change in knowledge or skills. The changes are the result of neurological changes in the learner.

Message -- pattern of signs, words, pictures, gestures, sounds produced for modifying the behavior of one or more persons. Messages appeal to the senses; they interact with the learner's neurological gateways.

Design -- deliberate process of analysis and synthesis.

Taken together, the meanings of these terms embody the scope and purpose of this course. A principal focus will be on Web-based teaching.

This course has a heavy reading load. Frequent writing and participation are required.


Course Management; WWW

This is a Web-only course. Electronic discussion is required. Assignments are submitted on the Web.

Consider each date topic as if it were a target deadline. Your assignment MUST be posted by 1 PM Central Time of the target date. All due dates are Wednesdays. Usually there will be discussions posted within 24 hrs of the target time. I usually send a group e-mail to announce this posting.

I maintain a rigid schedule with severe penalties for lateness; research suggests that students in Web courses perform better when the course schedule is rigid.

The size limits on assignments are expressed in terms of number of characters (including spaces). While these are suggestions, keep the following in mind. Length is not rewarded; quality is rewarded. I can tolerate small overruns in length -- occasionally. Usually when you have written MUCH less that the suggested amount, you haven't written enough.


Communication; E-mail

I communicate via e-mail. You must have access to an e-mail account and to the World Wide Web if you are in this course. No exceptions! You should check your e-mail at least once every 48 hours.

All assignments are turned in using the Internet. You will be able to access the posting page from my Web site,, first under the "courses" entry, and then for this course (TEAC 859, Spring 08).


Participation in Discussion

Discussions are of key importance in the course. Your participation in electronic discussions is required for TEAC 859. You must contribute to EACH discussion. A contribution is made based upon content analysis, not reports about the weather or your pet cat.

Sample discussion entries are posted.

I track ALL of your contributions; I determine whether you have accessed the contributions of others. Participation counts!



There are no face-to-face (F2F) class meetings. I am available for campus meetings with you, however. Also, I am available by telephone or using Web-based video. If something goes wrong in your life such that meeting a class target schedule becomes problematic, be certain to contact me as soon as possible.


Course Books

If you've not yet purchased a book from or Barnes and Noble on-line (, you might try this. Busy people buy books quickly (and cheaply) on line.

Designing Effective Instruction (Gary Morrison, Steven Ross, Jerrold Kemp), 4th Edition, John Wiley, ISBN 0-471-21651-8 (Amazon). It seems as if a new ediution of this is coming out. I don't care which one you use. If you read the (poor) review at Amazon, you'll get an idea of the book. I actually think that including material for industrial trainers is an asset rather than a liability.

The Design of Everyday Things (Donald A. Norman). Two versions of this book are available. The hard cover book is entitled The Psychology of Everyday Things, Basic Books, New York, NY 1988, ISBN=0-465-06709-3. The paper version works fine. (Amazon)

Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load, Ruth Clark, Frank Nguyen, and John Sweller, Pfeiffer (Wiley), 2006, ISBN: 978-0-7879-7728-3. This book provides a readable summary of important research results related to learning.

The required readings other than books are available on line. Some require a password that I will provide by e-mail.



The base grade in this course is A-. If everything is both timely and adequate, expect an A-.

Your evaluation is based upon your discussion and the quality and timeliness of your written responses. Written responses are weighted roughly in proportion to the number of characters set as the upper limit. So, a 10,000 character limit is roughly 5 times more important than a 2,000 character limit. Writing counts for 80% and discussion 20%. In TEAC 859, silence is not golden -- it is costly, up to a grade and a half (i.e., A- --> C+)

I try to use a modified mastery approach. Therefore, these percentages are more time weights than fractions. Missing any one piece of the course, however small, is devastating. Essentially, your grade is no higher than a 'C+' until all of your papers are of 'A-' quality! I expect all work that is not of 'A-' quality to be resubmitted -- in a timely fashion -- in order to receive an 'A-' evaluation. Let me be clear about this. A- is the minimum standard, but, if I have to 'beat it out of you' you're likely to get only a B- or B for that A- level or work.

The grading is inherently subjective.

Final letter grades are awarded as follows:

An A+ will be awarded for those who complete all work and for whom the instructor feels that special creativity or ingenuity has been demonstrated.

An A will be awarded to students who complete all work at a professional level (timely, good), and show some creativity as well.

When your work does not meet "A-" standards, you will be notified by e-mail. When I do this, I expect to give you specific comments about what needs to be done to improve the work. Also, I will comment if your discussion work is not appropriate (i.e., A- level).

As already noted, I hold a mastery learning philosophy. Rather than give a grade less than an A-, I expect to notify you about all less-than-A- work for revision and resubmission until it meets the A- standard. A grade of less than A- from me means either that you did not meet the standard, or that you often turned in less than standard work. (Once again let me say that if I feel that I'm frequently returning work, then I'll give a B or C . This is a graduate course. It's not my job to tell you over and over that your work is not up to the standard.)

If you do not participate in discussions, your work will not be A- even though the assignments submitted may be at that level.

A grade of W (Withdrawal) will be issued for those who withdraw in compliance with UNL guidelines.

A grade of F will be issued for academic dishonesty, submitting plagiarized work, misuse of UNL computing facilities, or similar unacceptable behavior. Plagiarism means, among other things, submitting work that is not your own writing. When you submit work written by others, use quotation marks.

I will use all of the other grades available in accord with my view of the appropriateness of the work submitted. However, work may be resubmitted until it receives a grade of A-. ALL resubmitted work must be in BEFORE 3 PM Monday, 2/16/09 for reconsideration.


Written Assignments

A written assignment is due at 1 PM Central time on each event date (all Wednesdays).

Sample assignment entries are posted.

ALL of your written assignments must come in electronically on the Web; no exceptions. You submit assignments by first accessing the course menu page (as indicated above) and choose Assignment. Then, from the next page, choose the assignment you want to work on. These are done one-at-a-time.

Any assignment may (should) be rewritten and resubmitted if the grade is lower than an A-. You have 7 days after notification about a written assignment to resubmit for a regrade for full credit. Do not expect explicit feedback on your assignment.

This is a graduate course and most submitted work is ok. If the work is below standard, you'll receive an e-mail from me.


Late Penalties

Assignments are accessible for submission according to the schedule. After a due date/time. The assignments page is LOCKED and you must contact me to open your access for submitting the assignment. Late assignments, especially without prior notice, will result in lowered grades.

When you 'log-in' at the Website, you enter your e-mail address and provide a password. This leads to the creation of a list of materials available to you -- but not necessarily to others. You can always review submitted material, and read my usually sparse feedback comments.



This course is based upon two key ideas among others.

First, feedback is the gold standard of teaching.

Second, self-regulation is a goal for all learners. I expect graduate students to be effective self-regulators and that, as such, they ought not require the same quantity of feedback that is appropriate for a freshman.

In other words, if you do a routine graduate-level job on a routine assignment, don't expect feedback. Assume that the feedback, too, would be 'CEHS' routine (e.g., good job).

My favorite comment for feedback is 'ok. ' This translates to 'A-.'


Technical Details

Spell check your documents before submitting.

Examine your material in Web format. That is, submit your responses and then look them over. When you write on a word processor, and then paste that material into a Web form, expect problems. Quotation marks (often called smart quotes) and special symbols give trouble.


References; Face Validity

The references you submit for this course must come from EITHER from the WWW (submit a URL) OR via a pdf file attached to an e-mail to me ( You may NOT use references that require password access. On your URLs, indicate the date that YOU accessed the URL.

In research, there is a concept called face validity: Does something make sense? The idea of time-on-task makes sense and is borne out by research.

Some things that make sense are not borne out by research. For example, although Gardner's notions about multiple intelligence make sense, they are not supported by much research or writing -- other than by Gardner. While the notion of learning style seems to have face validity, it is not well supported by measurable and testable constructs. Knowing someone's Myers Briggs type, for example, does not really give one insights about how to improve that learner's learning. (In the Myers Briggs scheme of personality, I'm an INTJ. I'm borderline E/I, but essentially totally one-sided in NTJ. I've seen a report in which MB types were measured, and then correlated with grades in chemistry. Over half of the As went to INTJs, and not one person of the opposite type [ESFP] received an A. Indeed, many of them failed. INTJs are the kind of people that would include facts like this in a course syllabus.)

One construct with face validity that I use often is pedagogical content knowledge -- what a teacher needs to know to be successful in teaching a particular course. This construct does not yet have good empirical support.

Anytime you say something that is not well supported -- be that something I don't believe in like multiple intelligences or learning styles, or something I do believe in like pedagogical content knowledge -- expect to be challenged. This is not a course in faith; this is a course intended to increase your understandings of learning based upon the best available recent literature.

To be influenced by face validity is to be human. Generally speaking, to make decisions based upon it is unwise -- and possibly stupid.


How This Course Works

This course is based upon writing and discussion. In order to participate effectively, you must read the readings. Sometimes you may be asked to work in groups to respond to particular problems or questions. Most weeks, however, we will engage in discussions.

It's one thing to know what authors have said, and quite another about what is meant. You are expected to know what they have said! In other words, you are expected to read closely and not reinterpret authors' writings with your personal meanings.

If you believe in something that I don't believe in -- like learning styles -- it's not my job to change your mind. It IS my job to make sure that you know the literature. I develop deep respect for those who change my mind about something that I've thought about for a while. Ways to do this include presenting new literature, or making more powerful arguments. While you are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled either to make up what the literature says, or to point to weak studies that fly in the face of strong studies.



In order to access some of the course materials you will need an id and a password. I'll e-mail passwords when the time comes.



Civility during Web-based discussions is expected. I am the arbiter of civility. You are expected to conduct yourself in a manner that encourages the active participation of all persons in the class.

The writing samples submitted in this course are to be original with the named author or authors. Submitting any string of 40 or more characters that are written by someone else but not attributed is considered plagiarism. To cite the work of others, use quotation marks and give a citation sufficient that I can readily determine the exact original source.


Scholar Practitioner Model

All instruction at Teachers College is based upon the scholar-practitioner model. This is especially true of my courses, since these essentially always include the latest research results and stress debunking of notions that do not enjoy strong research support.



"The University of Nebraska is committed to a pluralistic campus community through Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. We assure reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact me for a confidential discussion of their individual needs for academic accommodation. It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to provide flexible and individualized accommodation to students with documented disabilities that may affect their ability to fully participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. To receive accommodation services, students must be registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office, 132 Canfield Administration, 472-3787 voice or TTY.


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