Inquiry Project: Golabki

When I set out to choose my inquiry project topic, I decided that I wanted to learn something that I would never think to make time for or tackle individually.  I chose making golabki (cabbage rolls) because I am not a culinary expert.  And, I wanted to try something that I would find challenging.  While I found the process of making golabki very repetitive, I enjoyed the experience of being taught by my mom.  Reflecting back on the entire experience, I have realized three things:   1)  That learning can be fun when the task is not.  2)  It is important to satisfy related “wondering” moments.  3)  Being shown “how to do it” reduces frustration.  These are strategies I plan to offer my students.

The Wide World of Webquests

Although I teach a college certificate course, my student population greatly varies in age, maturity, past experience and motivations. This requires me to adapt my initial teaching approach to each intake I instruct. One of my favorite topics within the Comprehensive Health Care Aide (CHCA) program is the Chain of Infection. This topic has always been of interest to me and I enjoy sourcing innovative ways to deliver the content in such a way that actively involves the students. Currently, students within my program are required to complete a basic power-point, group presentation after they have researched an assigned infectious disease. The ideas and resources contained in this Infectious Disease Webquest could easily be adapted to complement the course content, learning objectives and assessments of the CHCA program. I think this would be a challenging and interactive way to engage my students and guide them to higher learning opportunities. The outcome of this Infectious Disease Webquest mimics the assignment that currently exists within my program. However, this specific assignment encompasses the student-centered approaches of a webquest and role-playing.

I have been searching for an innovative way to deliver anatomy and physiology without resorting to passing around model organs and body parts. In learning about the advantages of using a webquest, I feel that this would be an alternative way to deliver components of the curriculum. In my experience, one of the most challenging topics for students to understand is the circulatory system, as the students are required to learn many anatomical terms, the flow of blood through the heart and the health issues associated with circulation. It is a big topic and I feel that I am often crunched for time. A webquest would allow the student to work through, review and utilize the content either independently or within a group. Some of the links I can foresee utilizing include:

  1. A blood volume calculator.

Students input their weight, sex and height to calculate their total blood volume. The webquest would include instructions to source 5 different individuals of different ages. Students must then source a visual representation of their calculated blood volumes and present them to the class.

  1. CPR role-play. – Ken Jeong AHA no hands CPR – Heart and Stroke Association of Canada CPR Guidelines 2015

In groups of 4, students would be instructed to develop a role-play that utilizes the current CPR guidelines and perform it before the class.

  1. Blood flow through the heart. – educational video about blood flow through the heart. – interesting and fun video clip that demonstrates the physiology of the heart. Students are able to learn terminology and physiology through song and rhythm.

The Flipped Classroom


The flipped classroom is not a new idea in all schools of higher education. However, the idea of the flipped classroom is receiving much more attention as it is now being considered as an active learning strategy to facilitate student engagement and student centered learning. While requiring the initial investments of time and organization on the part of the instructor, the flipped classroom promises many opportunities to the instructor and the students.

  1. Pre-taped lectures- Pre-taped lectures and media allow the instructor to refine and condense the content for the intended topic. Students are able to pause, replay and ponder the lecture and content prior to class.
  2. Low cost- Technology needed for a flipped classroom requires very little budget. Recorded video can be uploaded by the instructor onto a site such as YouTube for student viewing.  Student access to computers and internet sites are readily found within the colleges and many public venues.
  3. More efficient use of class time- Instructors can utilize class time to apply, explore and create understanding of the content rather than using the time for passive student learning. Active learning exercises such as problem based learning, group activities and team projects can be used to generate additional knowledge and understanding.
  4. Higher-level learning- Instructors are able to utilize class time to tackle the concepts that the students typically struggle with rather than having to deliver basic core information, while being able to identify and assist struggling students during the class.
  5. Individualized instruction- During active learning in the classroom, instructors are present to remediate students who possess inaccurate information leading to incorrect application or understanding of topic knowledge.

While the flipped classroom affords many opportunities to both the instructor and student, preparing a flipped learning environment should be considered an investment resulting in students contributing to their learning through active engagement with peers and their instructor.



The 11th Way

I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught. ~Winston Churchill  

A student centered learning environment allows students to invest in their own learning and apply value to the knowledge and understanding they have gained through the learning experience.  The student is encouraged to individualize their learning while being guided through opportunities that develop the critical thinking, reflective and problem-solving skills required to navigate the world around them.

I have attempted to apply student centered learning in many aspects of my CHCA classroom by incorporating learning activities within theory classes, utilizing case scenarios in lab and organizing community experiences related to course content.  While implementing this instructional shift in my classroom, I realize that the article omits #11.  The student may require guidance to learn this new way of learning.

For instance, when I first began teaching I jumped right into giving students problems, projects and presentations but after the students realized they weren’t worth “marks”, I received very little buy in and ended back up at the front of the room lecturing.

What was I missing?

I realized that the students’ past institutional experiences had narrowed their perception of learning.  I knew that it wasn’t that the students couldn’t learn in this way, I needed to change my approach.  So instead of throwing them in at the deep end and expecting them to swim the very first day, I give them several “orientation days” of hanging out in the kiddie end of the pool.  I do what is familiar and lecture, organize a million icebreakers, bait them with smaller problems, all while luring them deeper to where collaborative and active learning take place.  I have found that while easing the transition to student centered learning has worked for my group, I have trouble maintaining it especially when the students’ motivation bottoms out mid-way through the term.