Final Blog for ID!

Think about instructional design in general. What have you learned this semester about instructional design and development? What about process? What else?

Instructional design and development is a much more in depth process than I originally thought.  As a teacher, it would be awesome if we had the time to actually fully go through the ID process when developing our instruction.  We’re trained in ID, it’s expected that we are that thorough with every lesson, but the truth is, most teachers do not have the time to do that much in depth instructional design, at least not until they have been teaching for a long time and have time to start refining their lessons and fine tuning their analysis, assessment, and evaluations.

Also, what did you learn from the Evaluation of the product? What would you do differently next time? How much did you learn from the process and evaluation that will make you a better future instructional designer?

The World Geography STAAR Review went really well.  The goal was to review all of our testing standards (the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills of World Geography), focusing specifically on areas that students showed they were lacking based on benchmark tests, while keeping students interactive and engaged, and overall the results were qualitatively and quantitatively great.

The pre-quiz, which is a 42 question matching quiz covering the different physical and human characteristics of different regions of the world, really freaked out a lot of the students.  Many of them were overwhelmed at the number of questions, and if they did not know the answer to the first two or three, they would shut down.  After letting them work on it individually for awhile, we allowed them to work on it with a partner to discuss and change answers as they seemed fit.  They were not allowed to use other resources.  When they turned it in, we graded it to get an average of 41.4% correct – or 17.4 questions correct – for all World Geography students.  The regions that as a group they got mostly correct were the United States & Canada; Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean; Europe; Australia & Islands; and Antarctica.  All regions of Asia and Africa were pretty dismal, and South America was less understood than we had anticipated.

We continued with the instruction, first reviewing the physical features, human features, and events & issues of each continent.  This was the introduction to our Book of Knowledge (BOK, which becomes their study guide), the game concept of our teamwork, and the first of many days of matching cards.  It was wildly successful.  Students were engaged, they were speaking in academic language as they discussed which cards should go where, even arguing poetically about World Geography.  It was very exciting to witness.  Even students who were very vocal and determined not to work with the group to which they were assigned found themselves swept up in the competition of getting their matching done first, and, whether they noticed or not, became very good, collaborative teammates.

We added a few rules as the matching games went on.  For one, it turned out to be a headache for teachers to try and check every group at every moment they requested it – it took much too long.  So our first change in rules was that teams could only ask for assistance or checks from the teacher three times before the teacher started to deduct points from their team.  This helped immensely.  Students began working through the smaller problems themselves as a team and were more conservative with their assistance requests.  Another rule that was added was the “No Cell Phones or you are disqualified!” rule.  We are a Bring Your Own Device campus, and many teachers do not mind students listening to music, however many students began using the device to look up answers – so to make it easy, we just said no cell phones during the matching portion, because some students were accusing others of winning the day’s “quest” only because they were cheating by using their devices inappropriately.  The last (but certainly not least!) rule was that they were not allowed to speak to other teams unless given explicit permission by the teacher.  This helped to control the environment and reinforce students staying with and only interacting with their assigned group, plus it helped minimize cheating or unfair advantages.

We also had a kind of unexpected assembly during 8th period one Friday.  Most of the teachers did not see their 8th period that day, so we had to adjust the instruction so that 8th period classes received the information without getting too far behind.  We ended up giving them copies of the key for that day so they could transfer the information to their BOK.

Toward the end of the review week, we gave the post-quiz (which was the same 42 question quiz) to students, this time enforcing that they do it individually and without resources (such as their notes or the book).  We graded the quiz and had a significant rise in percentage correct, settling at 58.2%, a 16.8% increase.  Based on the results, students still seem to struggle with the concept of “Sub-Saharan” Africa, and they confuse the different regions of Asia.  They especially seem to forget that Southwest Asia is also referred to as part of the Middle East, so, although we have mentioned it countless times in our instruction, we probably need to address it some other way so that it sticks.  As a PLC, we acknowledged that our calendar required us to rush through certain regions, Asia especially, and we will address that in next year’s calendar.  This year’s calendar did not account for reviewing before the STAAR, and even had new instruction scheduled for beyond the STAAR test, which is not acceptable since the World Geography STAAR test can ask questions about any of the state TEKS.  Next year we will adjust the calendar to allow for more time to be spent learning about each region, covering all material by two to three weeks prior to the STAAR test so that there is time to review.

Overall, the teachers felt like the review went really well, and was, “better than the worksheet reviews we have done in the past.”  They felt the students enjoyed it, and the students agreed, though they did say that eight days of matching cards “got a little old,” so we might need to break it up a little bit when we organize this review in the future.

The biggest thing I learned about ID through this project is that when dealing with longer term instructional design, it is really important to follow the design document and timeline, but to remember to be flexible.  If something that you planned for is not working the way it should, you should absolutely change it when you recognize something is not working right.  We did not immediately change our instruction when things weren’t quite working the way we intended, but once we changed the instruction, things went much smoother and we felt it was more effective.  This applied to certain rules that were applied, and even the method of instruction itself in some cases.  So I guess, always maintain flexibility when it is in the best interest of the learner (not just because it might make your job easier :)).

Instructional Design

Designing instruction means having a learning objective in mind, and developing with purpose a method of teaching it.  It means analyzing, editing, assessing and evaluating.  Reflection and further fine tuning are essential to its continued success.

To design instruction professionally, you need to have both logical and creative sides to you.  You must be able to come up with an achievable, measurable goal, then analyze the needs of all parties involved from all different perspectives.  Your reporting must be detailed, with Design Documents and Job Aides that easily understood yet thorough.  That being said, in designing the instruction itself, and the materials used, those often take creative skills. 

I’d also that being a professional instructional designer also takes patience and poise (especially among difficult clients). 🙂