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J. Burns Brown Fellowship of Excellence
  • Dr. Belinda J. Deal, University of Texas at Tyler
As a new lead graduate faculty for the nursing education track, understanding and exploring teaching and learning is my passion. I have introduced a few of the principles for “significant learning” from Fink (2003) in my current courses. The taxonomy of significant learning includes: Learning how to learn, Caring, The Human Dimension, Integration, Application, and Foundational Knowledge. Currently, students completed “muddy points” questions at the end of lab, wrote reflections after viewing videos and other experiences (going to a nursing home), and compiled a portfolio at the end of the semester and reflected on the course and how they learned.
I would like to expand those practices to see if reflecting on learning makes it more meaningful for the students. If this occurs, the teacher also benefits. As Fink says, “When teachers dream about what they really want their students to learn and when students reflect on what they learned from their really great teachers, both groups include understanding the subject but go beyond this and even beyond learning how to apply it” (p. 244, 2003).

Intervention: Students will be divided into two groups. The control group will continue with the current activities of the course. The intervention group will be asked to reflect on their experience in the course by keeping a journal where they will write about “What am I learning?”; “Why is this important to me?”; “How did I learn best, most comfortably, with difficulty?” and “What else do I need to learn?” Teachers will give feedback to students in the intervention group and note areas of deficits where action may be needed. Additional activities will be implemented such as determining the appropriate learning style, and applying memory techniques to move learning into long-term memory (Fink, p. 137, 2003). Students will share knowledge with others; teaching a student peer adds a social dimension that requires understanding of the concept. The journals and other selected materials will be compiled into a learning portfolio that is turned in at the end of the course.

Evaluation: Student success will be evaluated by the content in the reflections in the journals in the intervention group; by comparing pre-test and post test scores for 1) foundational knowledge and 2) learning how to learn as types of significant learning between the two groups, and by comparing exam and final course grades between groups. Future studies could include assessing strategies and evaluation of the other kinds of significant learning (Caring, The Human Dimension, Integration, and Application).

References: Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Deal, Belinda (PI) J. Burns Brown Fellowship of Excellence, J. Burns Brown Fellowship of Excellence (October 18, 2013 - May 15, 2015) Awarded: October 18, 2013, USD 10,000.00 Completed Summer 2015