Planning and Analysis

These artifacts feature situations where it was necessary for me to identify the needs of stakeholders, the causes of a target population’s performance gap, and then determine emerging technologies that could facilitate achieving established instructional goals.

Organizational Analysis using the Nine Variable Framework

EDIT 7150e - Principles of Human Performance Technology and Analysis, Spring 2021, Dr. Stefaniak

As a part of the HPT coursework, we were tasked with using the Rummler & Brache Nine Variable Framework to perform an organizational analysis. I chose to analyze a common formative assessment initiative that was started at a high school where I formerly taught. This analysis technique proved to be an excellent way to look at an organization from all angles to determine why a process or initiative might not be performing as intended, as was the case with the common formative assessment plan I analyzed, and helped me to better understand and articulate the needs of this organization to improve the outcome of this initiative.

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Analyzing Needs and Solutions

Morgan County High School was noticing some discrepancies in student grades and outcomes between different sections of the same class. There was a concern that students who were taking the same class, merely being taught by different teachers at different times of the day, were not getting the same experience across the board. The administration felt that a more consistent approach to assessments, especially formative assessments, could be used as a unified measure of student outcome regardless of teacher. The challenge was that no such assessments had been developed. Correctly understanding that this could be perceived as reducing teacher autonomy, the administration decided to allow teachers to work together to develop and implement these assessments. The initiative was given to the schools High Performance Professional Learning Committee (HPPLC) to undergo planning and implementation...where it basically died. The initiative could never get off the ground and then when COVID hit the following year, priorities drastically shifted. Using the Nine Variable Framework, it becomes clear that while the administration's chosen solution might appear to be an appropriate one given the existing problem, there are other considerations that need to be made in order for the solution to work as intended.

Environmental Characteristics

The Nine Variable Framework gave me the tools necessary to better articulate and explain exactly why the initiative failed, and what would need to change in order to properly address the identified need. I encourage you to read the entire paper (provided below), but to keep it brief, there are significant misalignments and management issues in the organization's environment which caused it to fail. The initiative is well-reasoned and if implemented as intended, would likely improve the problem. However, administration is choosing to communicate this plan by proxy through a small team of teacher leaders which prevents them from setting clear goals, establishing metrics for success, and providing a singular vision and direction. The administration was correct to expect resistance from teachers regarding this initiative, but chose to give teachers all control of progress to encourage participation. This again removed the administration's ability to direct and manage the initiative. Lastly, the organization's design lacked necessary systems that would have enabled teachers to actually develop the common formative assessments. There was no common or protected planning time where teachers could step away from their classrooms to create these assessments, so it was unlikely that they would ever be created.

Finding the Right Solution

The administration was hoping to address disparities in the educational experiences of students taking the same class taught by different teachers. As the paper points out, the administration was hoping that common formative assessments would allow teachers to respond "...dynamically to the in-progress learning of their students, and to better cooperate and share teaching resources between themselves e.g., one teacher has significantly better results after an electromagnetism unit, so they share their presentations and activities with other teachers to use in the future." The paper also points out that a major issue is the lack of protected, joint planning time where teachers can cooperate to create the assessments that are intended to solve this issue. The desire for a protected, joint planning time is so significant an issue in the organization that it is a yearly request from teachers. One wonders if the push for common formative assessments, which necessitate this common collaborative time to implement, would really solve the issue. It seems that creating this planning time and allowing teachers to collaborate would give them the chance to share resources and work together as teams to develop stronger curricula and assignments jointly. The common formative assessments could be a byproduct of this effort, but I argue that they are not the solution to the problem; the joint planning time is.

Lessons Learned

Using tools like the Nine Variable Framework can help designers to identify better solutions to problems. Although I completed this organizational analysis as a "triage" where the initiative had already been proposed and ultimately shelved, it demonstrates how appropriate needs assessments and analysis techniques, when implemented early on, could help to identify points of failure before they happen. I'm suggesting that the proposed solution might appear to work and might address the issue, but only because it would require the organization to address some of its internal design misalignments to implement. It's this correction that would enable teachers to work collaboratively to solve the problem, not the implementation of the proposed solution itself. Completing this assignment and working with the framework gave me a greater appreciation for the complexity of organizations and clearly demonstrated to me the power that comes from conducting needs assessments and analysis in the early stages of design.

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KASH+ — Soft Skills Expanded

EDIT 7520e - Online Teaching and Learning
Summer 2021, Dr. Stefaniak

This is a "proof of concept" expansion to a previously-developed soft skills curriculum for high school students which can be completed completely online without instructor-led sessions. It was created for the Online teaching and Learning course and demonstrates how I would revise some of my early design work from my previous job as a high school teacher to incorporate formal ID practices and principles.

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Considering the Learner

This is an example of some of my early work in the program, and was one of the first times I preempted the design process with high level planning. A significant focus of the early planning was on the characteristics of the target population and their learning context. In my design document, I detail general and specific characteristics of the learners including age, expectations, motivations, attitudes, and aspirations. Knowledge about the target population later informs the design of the instruction including the lexile level of the content, difficulty and duration of activities, assignment formats, and navigation concerns. Also included in the design document is a look at the environmental characteristics of the learners. This specific school is a unique setting that has qualities and considerations that must be taken into account. It is in a very rural area, serves all students in the district regardless of college or career goals, has a long history of advocating for vocational work, and closely partners with community businesses to form industry partnerships for the students. This college and career oriented environment also heavily informs the writing of the content because the final instruction must take present itself through a lens of career-readiness in order to fit into the environment in which these learners are situated.

Designing the Right Instruction

Knowledge of the learners and the learning environment drives the design of the instructional interventions. The planning document details how the final product would be created to showcase how selected soft skills would be directly applicable to students in their future careers. This is a means of creating relevance for the students which should help to improve their motivation to engage with the content. Leveraging internal and external community business leaders, something the school regularly does through its partnerships, will also help to create a final product that is "community embedded" which is critical for this specific community of learners. Special considerations are also taken to make sure that the final design allows for learner-learner, learner-content, and even learner-teacher interactions. This allows the final design to promote the necessary interactions for learning to take place. You can read more about these interactions, and the content decisions, in the full design document available below.

Choosing the Best Technology

Once again, engaging in high level planning prior to starting design informs the choice of technology used to host, present, and manage the instruction. While there are a number of potential LMS and content hosting options, this school system is already familiar with, and spending money on, the Google Suite for Education. As such, Google Sites serves as an excellent option to host and present the instructional content. While it does lack many dynamic features that other eLearning solutions could provide, its simplicity is its greatest strength. This allows for administrators and teachers in the school to make continual revisions as they see fit without needing to bring in an eLearning expert to make simple changes. It is cost effective, where other solutions would be a greater expense than is necessary. Most importantly, it is already a part of the technological ecosystem the system and students are familiar with. Minimal training would be needed to help the system begin fully using this curriculum program. For all of the same reasons, Google Classroom makes the perfect "LMS" to host and present the learning activities for students and instructors. Minimal training is required and the system already has infrastructure in place to create, manage, and assign Google Classroom sections centrally based on the school's SIS and enrollment information.

Next Steps and Lessons Learned

This single module, the 10th grade "Job Applications" module from the "Career Skills" monthly topic, served as a proof of concept for a potential expansion and rework of my first KASH curriculum design that is still being used by the entire school district. I fell that the initial version, detailed in my portfolio, is still lacking in sufficient content for some of the lessons to fill the entire 30-minute period. It's also evident that I created that design prior to entering the ID program because there are some major improvements to be made in terms of intentional design of activities and assessments. I'd be interested in further developing this proof of concept to be more complete and robust so that it could be packaged and offered to not only my previous high school, but to other schools looking to implement soft skills instruction without burdening teachers with more work.

I learned so much from completing this project early in the program. As mentioned before, working on a design after going through detailed, top level planning simplifies the process because design decisions can be made with concrete knowledge about the users and the environment in which the design will be situated. I enjoy planning and organizing tasks before starting them, but having experience and exposure to systematic planning procedures and considerations gives me a solid starting point for any design project I have to undertake.

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