Achieving Learning Outcomes

I have recently added an “Early Learning Check” survey in both CSD 115 & 304 that is deployed around the quarter-point in the semester. I select several course objectives from the syllabi and ask for student input with both Likert Scale responses and a space for comments/feedback. It gives students an opportunity to assess how they are learning with regard to the course objectives at an early point in the course, and most importantly, gives me feedback about how best to provide opportunities to ensure that the learner outcomes are achieved throughout the course. “Course corrections” can be easily made at this early stage in the semester. I will then respond to students with overall survey results, and address their comments and concerns in a video message.

Early Learning Check2

CSD 115 obj 3 early data


Student Quotes

“This class is a great opportunity for me, as a student, to learn and be able to describe the various characteristics of speech, language, hearing and swallowing. The class is only half way though and already I feel as if I have learned a significant amount of knowledge”.

“I feel that this class offers sufficient opportunity to achieve the knowledge in typical/atypical speech, language, hearing and swallowing. I already feel that I have learned a significant amount of information relating to several of these topics.”

“I feel as if I can use what I have learned to be able to communicate more effectively with those who have communication disorders.”

CSD 304 obj 1 early data

Student Quotes

“Lectures are a great tool, especially with the voice overlay, and are are extremely helpful when it comes to grasping the information.”

“This class provides many useful resources that can be used to achieve the knowledge about identifying anatomical structures. There are more than enough resources available to be successful in this class.”

“Dr. Musser offers lectures, videos, labs, and etc. to have a clear understanding of the anatomical structures.”

early data

Student Quotes (CSD 115 & 304 combined)

“Being able to apply the knowledge in a real way rather than answering questions from a book really helps me to understand the material in a more profound way.”

“I think the readings, lectures, labs, videos, and assignments are all very helpful in helping me meet the course objectives. All of them provide me with a ton of information that relates to the chapters we are studying. After completing all of the learning activities in module 1, I felt prepared for the quiz.”

“I love and utilize all the resources that are given. It makes it impossible to do poorly in this course, unless no effort is given.”

As previously discussed, my online courses offer a variety of ways to achieve learning outcomes. The first step is to make the objectives and outcomes transparent and readily available, beyond what is printed in the syllabi that may not be frequently accessed by students once the course has begun. Students are provided with learning objectives and outcomes for each topic covered in each Module. I accomplish this by brightly displaying this information at the top of the Module page. Students report that these expectations are clearly presented.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

learning outcomes 4

In a discussion board assignment, I pose the question “What is a voice disorder?” that students are asked to answer before diving into the learning activities for this topic. Upon completion of topics, “Voice Disorders” and “Laryngectomy,” they are again asked this question in order to reflect upon their learning growth. Below, a student describes how her knowledge of this disorder has evolved.

What is a Voice Disorder? – A

I am not sure what a voice disorder is exactly. I would guess that this type of disorder would interfere with the production of the voice. I have “lost” my voice due to abuse (as in yelling at a sports event or concert) or due to an illness. I also had a friend who worked as a DJ and had to have nodes removed from his vocal cords. I remember that he carried a dry erase board for a while in order to communicate. I can understand that if someone over uses or abuses their voice or contracts an illness, that this could cause the problems in the production of the voice.

What is a Voice Disorder – B

Now that I have read the material and listened to the lectures I can see that voice disorders include many more situations than I could have imagined. In my original post I basically described the temporary loss of voice due to abuse or illness and due to overuse for employment (such as a DJ). As I watched the lectures, the video of the female smoker with the polyp really got to me. I then remembered that I had a great-uncle who had to have a laryngectomy due to years of alcohol and tobacco abuse. It was pretty scary to witness as a young child and his voice was rather unpleasant. He basically stuck his thumb into the whole in his throat and produced a sound, but I can’t say it was a voice, by any means.

I am also now more aware of neurological disorders. I have a customer at work who appears to have a neurological disorder (Parkinson’s perhaps) and learning how these disorders can affect the voice helps me to understand why she has such a hard time ordering her food. I know pretty much what she wants and we are friendly with one another, but we cannot really have a conversation because she struggles too much to produce her voice.

The pathology or condition that stands out the most to me was the coughing/clearing of the throat as misuse or abuse that could possible lead to a voice disorder. My oldest daughter was asthmatic when she was younger and suffered from bronchospasms. This excessive coughing often resulted in breathing and steroid treatments. As I watched the lectures, I also remembered that she would excessively clear her throat during these episodes. Her voice would become raspy and hoarse. Today, although she has outgrown most of her asthmatic symptoms, she still clears her throat quite a bit. I think she sometimes does this out of habit and it was interesting to learn about this as abusive to the vocal folds.

I feel like I learned a lot from the material and the lectures.

A favorite lab assignment asks students to analyze the speech production of a young child on video. Following chart completion of all speech errors, students are asked critical thinking questions about the results. As will be further discussed in my “Learning Engagement” section, this lab is now encouraged to be completed in groups. Student collaboration has improved the quality of submissions and results in higher learner outcomes.The following is an excerpt from a student’s lab with my response.


As previously mentioned, A&P uses an e-text that is heavily used to complete not only reading assignments, but lab assignments, as well. Recognizing this may be uncharted territory for some, I begin the course with a “Navigation Lab” which asks students to access and utilize all facets of the e-text, to introduce them to the application and increase their comfort level, thereby guiding them to successfully achieving the learning outcomes. In my internal course evaluation, I ask students to evaluate the e-text cost, how user-friendly it is, and their overall satisfaction. Students reported that they are overall pleased with the e-text where 55% “Strongly Agree” and 45% “Agree.” CSD 304, Internal Course Evaluation, Fall 2015 

Student Quotes

“I really liked this course. I enjoyed the shorter lectures and our online e-text because it was super user-friendly.”

“The e-text is extremely helpful. I wish I could use it throughout my career!

I’m a visual person so having the option of seeing videos and 3D structures is a positive.”

Lab activities for both classes, and especially those for CSD 304, demonstrate high (81% for “strongly agree” and “agree” combined) ratings for their ability to reinforce course objectives and outcomes. CSD 304, Internal Course Evaluation, Fall 2015

Lab reinforcement data

Student Quotes

“It was a little confusing for me when I simply dove into the readings, I honestly felt a little overwhelmed. However, I can say that completing the lab really helped me to understand the material better!”

“The lab really helped me understand the four different types of speech sounds.”

“The labs help with describing and understanding what is being taught in the lecture and review slides.”

And finally, course evaluations help provide continued evidence that students are not only enjoying CSD 115 & 304, but are achieving the learning objectives for each. As course evaluations moved to external distribution, I designed my own, internal course evaluations that target specific areas of interest, such as the question above to continue monitoring the quality with which learning outcomes are achieved. These two evaluative formats give me rich feedback and provide a “bank” of new ideas to draw from to continually improve my online courses.

learning outcomes 5

learning outcomes 6

Excerpts from CSD 115 & 304 course evals, 2013-2015

Student Quotes

“Everything is useful knowledge in the day to day world and can really help people understand communication disorders.”

“I learned useful information for the degree I am working towards. The knowledge I gained is very useful in my field of study.”

“The labs are useful for learning course concepts.”

“The explanations of the material is very detailed and thorough. It improved my knowledge immensely. Knowledge of not only the field, but the ability to teach the knowledge to the students. This was an expert who could dumb it down in some sense for us in this beginning course.”

“I learned how to treat individuals with speech difficulties. I have a better understanding of what a communication disorder is.”

“I have a better understanding of the anatomy of the head and neck. I learned how to treat a swallowing disorder and understand the muscles involved in speech production.”