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Developing Standardized Online Outcome Measures for PhD Blended Programs

Brian Ragsdale (Walden University, USA)
Additional Authors
Sherry Tankersley (Walden University, USA)
Cher de Rossiter (Walden University, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2013 - 5:30pm
Teaching and Learning
Areas of Special Interest: 
Blended Program/Degree
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Electronic Poster
Executive A-D
Session Duration: 
60 Minutes
Poster Session

Examination of the developmental process for creating standardized online outcome measures completed by 770 psychology PhD graduate students in a blended program.

Extended Abstract

Developing outcome measures for assessing student skills development for a blended learning program presents a unique set of challenges. Outcome measures should be standardized and constructed to assess student learning across competency and skills-based domains. Guidelines for the construction of our measures had to meet certain requirements; easy to use by students, provide quick results, and demonstrate reliability and validity.

Critics of distance learning and blended programs assert that there are not enough standardized measures that document student learning outcomes. PhD psychology graduate students must demonstrate competency in how to administer various tests as well as learning sophisticated scoring rules and how to write psychological reports. These skill sets are requisite competencies needed by graduate students in order to be competitive in gaining practicum and internship field placements.

Each summer and winter quarter, Walden University PhD students attend online and face to face assessment courses. Students are intermixed from Clinical, Counseling and School psychology specializations and/or programs across several classrooms and meet for a total of nine days of face to face lectures, small group exercises, and classroom instruction. These face to face meetings are referred to as Walden University, Academic In Year Residency (AYR). Online components and face to face instruction focuses on administration and scoring of personality and cognitive instruments, interpretation, and fundamentals of psychological report writing. The majority of the classroom time is spent in developing basic administration and scoring skills.

The AYR occurs across nine days: five days of classroom seminars focus on cognitive and personality assessment, and the remaining 4 days covered advanced assessment topics; administration and report writing skills. Following the first five days, students enrolled in the cognitive course completed a 50 item screener and personality students completed their 50 item screener or outcome measure.

Online screeners appeared in Classmarker (TM). Classmarker, the online software platform, allows direct link access such that student identifications need not be established within the software for students to access the test. This allowed flexibility to accommodate changes in the student rosters related to possible registration for the AYR seminars.

Classmarker provides basic statistical result on overall screener supports and supports further statistical analysis via an excel download. The in-depth statistical analysis provided information regarding various domain and subject areas. Options within Classmarker allowed us to standardize the administration and timing of the screener (e.g., whether correct answers would be displayed as the students completed the screeners, whether students would be able to go back to questions that had already been answered, and so forth).

Lead Presenter

Brian L. Ragsdale, Ph.D. is full time core faculty member in the clinical program, in the School of Psychology at Walden University and serves as skills development and faculty administration. From 2007 to the present, Dr. Ragsdale serves in various capacities; instructor and faculty course lead for cognitive assessment; and other academic leadership roles at Walden University; faculty administrator for Academic Year in Residency (AYR), Walden Academic Champion, where he serves a strategic role in ensuring academic quality and curriculum development in blended programs, managing assessment inventory, and supervision of Graduate and Teaching assistants in blended programs. He earned his Masters (1998) and Ph.D. (2000) in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rhode Island. He is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, IL.