Designing Skills Based Classes

Designing Skills Based Classes

Barbara A. Frey (D. Ed. University of Pittsburgh, USA), Richard G. Fuller (Robert Morris University, USA) and Gary William Kuhne (Penn State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-865-4.ch013
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Personal Reflection Suggestion

Consider a physical skill that you would like to teach in an online course (e.g., how to play the piano, drive a car, and lift weights). Even though the skill is primarily physical, there is likely an important cognitive component to teaching the skill. How would you begin the learning process? Should the skill be taught in chunks or as whole process? What is the difference between how a novice and a master perform this skill?

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Example One: Online Science Course

Traditionally, many online instructors are reticent when it comes to presenting physical skills or courses that require physical manipulation of something such as a lab science. Teaching a lab science online for some looses the sense of instructor control and begs the question of whether the student is actually doing the skill or the lab. Are they simply using someone else’s work? This frequently asked question about online kinesthetic activities is easily dealt with as in the following example.

Let’s look at an online Science Methods Course. The company LabPaqTM provides home science lab experiment kits in a number of science specialties including Anatomy and Physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, microbiology and others. These are not computer simulations of experiments but actual science experiments were students receive a kit at the beginning of a semester and conduct the experiments throughout the semester much the same way that they would in a traditional science lab. The kit includes all the materials that are necessary to conduct the experiments and a laboratory manual with procedures. The cost is comparable to that of a text book.

The topics for the Science Methods Course Lab components include the following in the LabPaqTM kit:

  • The Scientific Method

  • Measurement: Length, Mass, Volume, Density, & Time

  • Experimental Errors and Uncertainty

  • Separation of a Mixture of Solids

  • Properties of Gases

  • Microbes Everywhere

  • Spread of Contagion

  • Phenotype and Genotype

  • Caloric Content of Food

  • Introduction to Electrical Circuits

  • Pendulum and the Calculation of g

  • Crystal Growing and the Rock Cycle

  • Radioactive Decay

  • Plate Tectonics

  • Using Statistics

  • MS Excel© and Statistics

Let’s look at an example lab lesson that focuses on the Properties of Gases.

The objectives for such a science lab might be that the learners will:

  • Examine and report on the physical and chemical properties of gases

  • Identify different gases according to their physical and chemical properties.

  • Conduct gas experiments using safety precautions

  • Report and present experimental data findings given a lab report format.

The online lesson formatting may look something like this:

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