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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Blended Learning and Discipline Approved Learning Goals Enhance Best Practices for a Capstone Course

Carrie Switzer (University of Illinois Springfield, USA)
Sheryl Reminger (University of Illinois Springfield, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 5:30pm
Blended Models and Course Design
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Best Practices
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Electronic Poster
Plaza Foyer
Session Duration: 
60 Minutes
Electronic Poster Session

This presentation describes how the blended learning format and discipline approved learning goals combine to enhance best practices for a psychology capstone course.

Extended Abstract

This presentation will describe how we have combined discipline approved learning goals and a blended learning format to enhance best practices for a psychology capstone course. The original capstone course for psychology majors met on campus for 16 weeks. It served as a review of psychological theories and concepts that culminated in the completion of a 25 page literature review. In 2003, the course was redesigned to align with the 10 learning goals that were adopted by the American Psychological Association for undergraduate psychology majors (Task Force on Undergraduate Psychology Major Competencies, 2002). These objectives emphasized learning goals that were important for a liberal arts education (e.g., communication skills and career development) and a degree in psychology (e.g., research methods and values/ethics). In the redesigned course, students wrote individual narratives that described how they mastered some aspect of each of the 10 learning goals and they created a portfolio that documented their work from previous psychology courses. The department faculty decided that additional assignments should be a part of the capstone course that emphasized the critical thinking, ethics, oral communication, and sociocultural awareness learning goals. For the first four years, the redesigned course was still held on campus for the 16 weeks.

In 2007, the instructors of the course decided to adopt a blended learning format to enhance particular learning goals and students' ability to complete their degrees in a timely manner. In the blended learning course, students are required to meet on campus for five of the sixteen weeks. They only come to campus for activities like mock job/graduate school interviews or oral presentations. The shifting of the majority of the course to the online format has allowed the Psychology Department to place stronger emphasis on the career development and written communication learning goals. We are now able to devote an entire on-campus class period to mock interviews to provide practice for students who are applying to graduate school or seeking immediate employment. The new format also allows us to concentrate on written communication skills because we can require more writing assignments during the weeks that the class does not meet on campus. The assignments are then graded and subsequently revised by students. The blended learning format is more flexible for all students, but it is of particular benefit for non-traditional students who may have full-time jobs or live far from campus. The new format that requires fewer on-campus meetings allows students to continue working and to live farther away, yet they can still complete their degrees in a timely manner.

This presentation will give participants detailed examples of how to design a capstone course that is anchored in discipline approved learning goals and maximizes the use of the blended learning format to enhance student success.

Lead Presenter

Carrie Switzer is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois Springfield. She has a Ph.D. in Developmental/Educational Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Switzer has been teaching online and with a blended format for the past 12 years. Her research interests are focused on motivation, perceived barriers to education, and academic self-efficacy.