The semester-break resource contained weekly modules each covering previously introduced stenotype writing principles and allowing for practice and skill retention. Students were additionally provided fresh material correlated to those lessons to challenge their ability to apply learned principles to new experiences. The modules were further broken down into daily activities to chunk the material into manageable segments. This promoted a feeling of success as students were able to accomplish each day's activities while they were on semester break. This also encouraged practice outside of regular course assignments which led to proficiency in their acquisition of skill.
Each day's assignments included the following: warm-up exercises, reinforcement of concepts, games and/or puzzles, skill-development drills, self-regulation activities, opportunities for interaction with fellow students to maintain a sense of camaraderie, and motivational messages and/or videos from instructors. These activities and exercises were presented using the adaptive-release feature in the learning management system. This allowed activities to be sequentially released so that as students completed one activity, the next activity would appear. This sequential presentation of materials further supported the accumulation of skill. It also promoted a sense of curiosity for the students as they did not know what type of exercise or activity would be presented next. Faculty were also able to use this feature to track the number of individual exercises each student was completing.
The design of this resource allowed for learner autonomy as they could select which exercises and/or days they wished to complete as they managed their personal time during the break and worked to attain their own academic goals.
The activities were varied and purposefully designed to increase motivation as students could see the relevance in what they were doing and identify improved writing skills.
The weekly modules were adapted to fit the length of each semester break to ensure replicability. The instructor could easily modify the activities available in the site to correspond with the length of any particular semester break.
The activities and exercises were created using a variety of multimedia resources incuding PowerPoint and screen captured presentations, videos, digitally recorded audio, and games and puzzles.
The instructors who designed this practice site utilized the announcement feature in the learning management system to provide students with the appearance of faculty presence through regular announcements. These were written before the start of the break and were scheduled to be released automatically.
The design of the site purposefully incorporated elements of humor as a means of engaging the students and encouraging their continued participation.
The varied activities were designed to meet the needs of individual learning styles and incorporated differentiated instruction based on the current skill level of the student.
Faculty members' comments included the following, "I thought this was a terrific way for the students to maintain their skills and reinforce what they had learned;" "it was amazing to see the difference in the skill level of the students who utilized the Survival Site versus those who did not;" "I felt more satisfied with my work because I did not spend so much time reviewing things that my students had forgotten."
The current practice has demonstrated student satisfaction and learner effectiveness and would prove useful in other disciplines, particularly in skill-based environments where continual reinforcement and practice enhance learner success.
Survey Results. The survey from the initial offering of the practice is attached