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Cathleen McGreal

PSY 320: Health Psychology
Best Fully Online
“A sense of community in a large enrollment course”
- Cathleen McGreal -

PSY 320 is a large-enrollment course, offered both face to face and online. It focuses on “Social, psychological, and biological factors affecting health, illness, and use of health services. Stress and coping processes, lifestyles, and illness management.” This course also crosses many disciplines, including those outside of the psychology department. Backward design informed assignment development, meeting the needs of students from different majors and allowing them to share their areas of expertise. Eleven course competencies, each with specific learning objectives, informed design. These were created using D2L Taxonomy Choices which are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Lectures, videos, and the textbook provided breadth whereas student specialization in regard to competencies added depth. The course was designed based on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, as a means of ensuring that all students would have an equal and equivalent learning experience in the course.

This course was developed with the student experience in mind. Custom widgets in D2L were used in order to facilitate navigation. Engaging photos from the Noun Project were used to illustrate the content covered in each module. The three papers (Modules 6, 11, and 16) had the same visual representation in order to distinguish them from the content modules. A table in the syllabus and in D2L gave the timeline for each module. To find the course content needed, students click on the desired module which then links to a D2L checklist. The checklist has information regarding the chapter to read, as well as links to the online audio lectures, lecture outlines, videos, quizzes, surveys, and due dates.

In previous semesters, students had been required to choose a competency at the beginning of the semester and then delve deeper into it as the semester progressed. But McGreal found that students had little investment in their original choices and often would request changes as time went on. To mediate this, she incorporated a free tool called ToonDoo. ToonDoo allows a person to create a cartoon and the process of creation helped students engage with their competencies earlier in the semester. A video example was provided to ease the process. According to McGreal, students showed interest in the creativity of the cartoons created by their teammates. Working within the UDL framework, students were required to include a “Cartoon Composition” section in the paper which gave a cell by cell description of the cartoon in detail. The purpose of this paragraph was to allow students who were visually impaired to provide feedback for their teammates. According to McGreal, “A plan for cartoon creation by visually impaired students was also in place. Although no students needed this accommodation, the inclusion of the Cartoon Composition section proved useful to me, an aspect of UDL design that I hadn’t anticipated. There were often aspects of a cartoon that had been carefully planned by the learner that I hadn’t picked up on!”

Technologies and frameworks used in this course:

Team Members:

Dia Chatterjee Graduate Student – Psych Teaching Assistant

Alana Harrison Graduate Student – Psych Teaching Assistant

Samantha Schires Graduate Student – Psych Teaching Assistant

Shannon McGreal‐Miller - former learning design student, MSU Information Technology