2:30-5:00 p.m., April 19, 2005
Mary Gates Commons
The On-Line Small Group Project creates a quarter-long semi-structured learning environment in which students work collaboratively to explore a topic, critique information, connect learning to theory and deepen their understanding of community health nursing roles. Working in groups on Blackboard should enable students to engage more thoroughly with their topics than they could in class or individually. My goal is to understand how this project fosters engagement and how to enhance it.
The course is Community Health Nursing: Care of Populations in the Community. Students in this theory course are RNs finishing the BSN completion program at UW, Bothell. Most work in acute care and have little prior experience with community health nursing theory or practice. While in this course, students also do the practicum.
My teaching includes explaining the project, clarifying the project structure and requirements, reading and responding to posts, redirecting discussions, suggesting print or live sources, and providing examples of good posts. Formative evaluation is iterative with my teaching. Student questions indicate where clarification is needed and how often. Discussions get redirected when group work flounders or is superficial. Sources are suggested when groups do narrow searches. Examples of good posts are given at the beginning and when a pattern of poor posts appears. Summative evaluation is done with a survey.
Much of what Im learning is unexpected in some way. The amount of reinforcement of structure and skills is a concern. Students struggle to incorporate the project into their schedules. Some start out doing the minimum or less. However, around mid-quarter, emotions shift. Groups bond and many show enthusiasm for their topics. They want longer final presentations because they have so much to share. No other assignment has produced this comment: "This community health stuff is cool!" How can I help more students have that experience?