PSY 519

Western Kentucky University, Fall 2011

Course description: Strategies and techniques designed for coping with problem behaviors in the classroom. Covers both preventative and problem encounter measures.

Contents and Design of the Course

In this online course, graduate students (mostly in-service teachers) explore educational psychology theory and classroom best practices relevant to creating positive classroom environments conducive to learning for all P-12 students.  Students partner with me to shape the learning experiences of the course, including use of a class blog, student-led discussions, and student sharing of learning/teaching resources.  As much as possible, this online course employs the same elements of many graduate courses, with students taking turns leading discussions (on the online discussion boards), working collaboratively with peers (through online collaboration software), and occasionally meeting “face-to-face” with me to talk about their group projects (via voice chat).

Academically and Professionally Beneficial Projects

During the semester, the students are engaged in completing two major projects: a classroom management plan and a collaborative literature review related to a specific area of interest within classroom management.

• Classroom Management Plan.  Students create a plan tailored their current or future classrooms that is grounded within research literature and the theory explored in the course.  The goal of this project is to produce an evolving document, useful to the PSY 519 students in their practice as classroom teachers and for sharing with their students’ families.

• Collaborative Literature Review.  The students assemble teams based on their areas of interest, such as middle grades classroom management or school-wide behavioral expectation plans.  Within these groups, the students develop a “compelling need statement,” which describes the impetus for their project.  Together, students locate and review current research-based sources that help address their compelling need.

For both of the projects, the students submit multiple drafts to allow for incremental feedback and improvement throughout the writing process.

Using Technology to Our Advantage

Concept map for "Building Teacher-Student Relationships." Shows connecting bubbles for the concepts classroom discourse, mutual feedback, getting to know students, and establishing expectations and boundaries.

Concept map for "Building Teacher-Student Relationships" (made with CMap,

About 90% of the current students in this course have taken all or most of the courses in their graduate programs online, which means they are used to the benefits and challenges of using new technologies for instruction.  One of the most important issues is creating a sense of community within the class.  The students’ experience with online learning, their willingness to try new technologies, and their flexibility have worked together to make this an exciting course.  We use interactive teaching tools, such as videos and visual concept maps designed with free concept mapping software, to help structure discussion of the course subject matter and to model tools for their teaching.