Dr. Gina Zanardelli – Counseling Psychology

Project Overview

My goals in tech fellows were to increase student engagement in class and to help students learn more about ways technology can be useful as they pursue careers as mental health professionals.

Project Planning

My classes had several old school, paper-based activities in them. The activities are designed to allow/encourage students to put the activities in their clinical toolbox. In other words, they are therapeutic interventions or tools that students would be able to use with clients if they had access to them. In addition, transition from paper to tech would facilitate sustainability. The activities I use, such as card sorts, become fairly ratty after a few uses, necessitating replacement.

Additionally, by providing students with the technology to use these activities, the student can revisit the activity for themselves and the activities become much more customizable, fitting clients’ and students’ needs better.

When considering Bloom’s Digital Taxomony, the purpose of most of these activities falls in two categories – Applying and Evaluating. First, students are expected to be able to apply the activities, then they are also expected to critically analyze the activities – which clients are the activities appropriate for? What modifications might be useful to make the activity applicable to different groups or individuals? From SAMR’s perspective, this is more augmentation rather than modification. However, I’d like to think that with the increased use of tech in a classroom, some students will be able to engage in Redefinition – using tech to do previously unimaginable things!

Project Implementation

I use a values card sort in my Ethics class. As a mental health clinician, self-awareness is of utmost importance. Clinicians must be aware of their own values and ways that their values can intentionally or unintentionally influence the counseling process.  By using a values card sort, students can clarify their own values, then reflect on (through discussion and a paper) ways their values might influence perceptions of clients.

With much assistance from Lauren and Becky, I translated my old paper values into Padlet, which allowed students to sort several values into one of 4 columns:

Padlet

My plan B was to have a few copies of the paper versions, and paper worksheet at the ready. Padlet provided several ways to share this template with the students, including an option to allow students to remake the template on their own device. I could also email the link to students, embed it in Moodle, or even share it on Facebook (I chose not to do that…for obvious reasons).

Project Assessment

I assessed the project informally. First, most students were able to use Padlet; only 2 of my students were not able to access Padlet via their computers. I’m still not sure why but those students used the old-school paper cards to sort their values. The rest of the students were able to use the Padlet version on their computers (yay for plan B). Most students said they liked it. Two of the students said they would have preferred paper because there was something engaging about actually holding (“weighing” one student said) the values in their hands. The research on online vs. paper reading helps me make sense of this – there is a bit of evidence that pen and paper methods may be associated with better retention, but it is far from conclusive at this point. Personal preference has also been cited in the research: Age and nationally tend to influence preferences (younger students tend to prefer screen).

To me, the project gave all of us (students and me alike) the opportunity to consider personal preferences and reflect on how our clients will have preferences for paper or technology as well. Students came to the conclusion, on their own, that client preferences should be honored and that the Padlet version of the card sort is a little more pleasing to the eye and customizable. But,

Similarly, I am also using Padlet to coherently organize all of our field placement listings for our master’s students. IN the past, I have simply sent out an email with attachments of descriptions of the various internship opportunities in the community. With the brilliance of Lauren, she suggested Padlet. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, as the listings are more organized, easier to access, and more aesthetically pleasing:

Feedback response

Project Reflections and Next Steps

I think the projects worked well and I really like Padlet! The downside is for the free account, one can only have 3 Padlets, and now I want to use it for everything!  However, there are so many other fantastic tech tools available, I am excited to explore other options.

For my next project (coming up in my class in about a week), I plan to use Google Maps to have students create community asset maps. Another option is ThingLink, but that will have to be for another time.

What I learned:

  • I really like using tech and learning about tech to improve teaching!
  • For the card sort project and the job announcement bulletin board, I think I have a good thing going. However, getting more formal student feedback is important and will very likely help me make the tools even more user friendly for students.

More generally, I learned that I have to carve out specific time for learning and implementing tech into my teaching. Implementing the ideas can take time and sometimes involves a steep learning curve but Lauren and Becky have been fantastic in providing refreshers as needed and moral support/encouragement (and coffee…thanks!)

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