Michigan State University masthead graphic Michigan State University masthead graphic


Evelyn Oka

CEP 260: The Dynamics of Personal Adjustment
Honorable Mention - Online
Active learning communities”
- Evelyn Oka -

Through a clear and consistent structure that provides diverse opportunities for collaborative and active learning, CEP 260 promotes self-reflection, interaction, and real-life application of psychological principles.

The course architecture for CEP260 creates opportunities for active learning and engagement through a clear and consistent course structure. Each week consists of three sections that allow students to explore the concepts first individually and then in groups, starting with interactive course content. The first section, Exploring the Big Ideas, corresponds to work completed individually (course readings, external links to real-world applications, interactive PowerPoint lectures, and reflection activities). The second section, Digger Deeper, consists of a discussion activity and participation in a discussion forum within a small group. The third section, Testing Your Knowledge, assesses students’ understanding of course concepts and provides students with weekly feedback about their learning.

The consistent structure of the course is also reinforced by the use of a visual, color-coded conceptual map that appears on each page, orienting students to how the current topic fits in the overall course. In addition, students receive specific and frequent feedback in a variety of ways including Angel Rubrics and instructor comments on written assignments. vuDAT’s Check DAT widget provides checkboxes that enable students keep track of their task completion. Students are also invited to participate in informal polls that prepare them for the upcoming week’s content and provide instructors with feedback on students’ perceptions and interests.

CEP260 engages students through diverse instructional methods. First, seven different instructors are featured in course presentations providing a variety of perspectives and teaching styles. Second, the course gives students multiple ways to engage with course content and apply it to their own lives. Interactive PowerPoint presentations invite students to pause and try out ideas, make observations, view a video, visit web sites, collect data, and explore outside resources. This diversity of instructional methods is also reflected in the multifaceted approach to assessment that includes reflection papers, online discussion, quizzes, and a final course project.

The course creates safe and collaborative learning communities that support the discussion of sensitive issues and provide the chance to try out new ideas. Students develop their own learning community in small groups across the semester. The small discussion groups bring together students who otherwise may not meet, interact, or share ideas and provide a way for students to access others’ perspectives on similar issues. Cultivating these collaborative learning communities provides students with a supportive and respectful place to express differing viewpoints, to promote self-disclosure, and to listen to and learn from one another.


Carolyn Hayter, Ph.D. Student, Development Team Leader

Andrew Saltarelli, Ph.D. Student, Development Team

Sarah Rowe, Ph.D. Student, Teaching Assistant, TA for 4 semesters

T. Romney Stevens, Ph.D. Student, Development Team, TA for 5 semesters

Brandon Blinkenberg, Virtual University Design and Technology, Producer

We also gratefully acknowledge Dr. Anisa Goforth, Dr. Chelle Busman, and D’Andrea Jacobs in contributing PowerPoint presentations to the course.