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Northwest Missouri State University

Don Ehlers

Don Ehlers

Dr. Don Ehlers, Instructor
School of Health Science and Wellness
Collaborative Classroom & Practice Activities

A team of individuals led by Dr. Don Ehlers, Instructor in the School of Health Science and Wellness, has been making great strides in improving student success for the 08-103 General Psychology courses. The team includes Dr. Ehlers and adjunct instructors BK Taylor and Sarah Jackson assisted by graduate assistant Justin Hicks. Dr. Ehlers has been working on the course redesign of the six sections of General Psychology courses since fall of 2011. B.K., Sarah, and Justin joined his team in the fall of 2013.

There are two aspects to the course redesign for General Psychology. The first aspect is the redesign of the classroom learning space. Classrooms in Colden Hall 1700 and 1750 were redesigned to allow for a more flexible learning space for groups. Rectangular shaped tables and chairs on wheels were included in each of the classrooms. A teaching station and projection system are facing opposite ends of both classrooms combined. The two classrooms can be divided by a wall which drops down from the ceiling. The rooms can be opened up to make one large classroom as needed. Whiteboards are available around the room on the classroom walls.

The second aspect of the course redesign, using the SQ3R method of study as a course delivery model, included integrating a component from the textbook publisher titled Learning Curve. SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. This tool provides online quizzing and personalized learning to help students achieve the course learning outcomes. As students work their way through the questions they are provided with instant feedback. The system monitors incorrect answers and adds similar questions based on what students have missed until they begin to answer questions correctly for that concept. The system is also set up to encourage students to go back into the etextbook or hardback textbook to read over the content area if they continue to miss a particular concept. As the student works their way through the quizzes, it continually brings back previously learned content to help student retain the information through repetition which they have already learned. This method of game-like quizzing motivates students to engage with the course content. The reporting tools associated with the program helps the faculty determine what each class needs to focus on during group discussions.

Learning Curve provides students with one of the review components in the SQ3R method that Dr. Ehlers has incorporated into the course as part of the course redesign. During one day of the week, Monday, Dr. Ehlers provides a preview or survey of the course content. Wednesdays, team members BK Taylor and Sarah Jackson work with the students in small groups to discuss and ask questions about the content. Fridays are dedicated to the online component, Learning Curve. Besides the Review using Learning Curve, students also must Read the material in the text either online or using the hardback textbook and Recite or discuss content in their groups. This combination of practice exercises helps the students in achieving the learning outcomes for the course and based on Dr. Ehlers’ preliminary research, in which his GA Justin Hicks has played a vital role, is improving student success. He recently presented at the Annual Gateway Course Completion Conference sponsored by the Gardner Institute for Excellence and is scheduled to present a poster at the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology in January.

Dr. Ehlers is an Instructor in the School of Health Science and Wellness retired in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about these new collaborative classroom and uses practice activities, contact the CITE Office at and x-1532.