Reactions to Action Plans (Part II)

Being a blogger, I’m always hesitant to make posts that are really long, but, I also mentioned in the previous post on action plans that I had to make two.

Before I do that, let me substantiate my claim that the first action plan was so totally awesome. Though simple, the structure of the lab session I created on coaching exercise technique was hugely beneficial to the students (they *should* corroborate that).

More than just observations on how they are coaching, a secondary objective of the session was to learn how to GIVE feedback, not just how to receive it. This is an invaluable skill they will need when working with clients. We discussed how negative feedback is better when sandwiched between compliments, and how best to deliver criticism.

The incessant feedback loop in KN-240 is really critical to its success. Students are continually evaluated and re-evaluated, and the addition of peer feedback is a new element I haven’t played with until now. From what I can tell, it can only benefit the students to observe and reflect on one another, rather than always having a top-down approach.

My second action plan was designed for EXCM-201 Physiology of Exercise as a way to better execute data analysis and reporting in their lab write-ups.  This particular template aligns more closely with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy:


You can think of this as loosely relating to college levels as Remember = 100, Understand = 200, and so on and so forth.

Before I reflect on how it went, here’s the plan:

Class: EXCM-201

Improvement Goal: Increase student engagement to work toward mastery of practical skills, data analysis, and reporting of data in lab write-ups


This class will revisit Lab Report #1 and identify areas of opportunity in which improvements can be made. Refinement of lab reports will result in students being awarded poinst back (up to half of those missed in round 1).

Content Focus:

This class reintroduces measurement of energy expenditure, as well as fundamentals of scientific writing, CMS formatting and citations, formulas and charts in Microsoft Excel, manipulation and analysis of group data. 

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):


Taxonomy Level

Lecture Objective: Students will be able to:



  •  Articulate understanding of measurement of energy expenditure
  • Demonstrate detail-oriented focus toward lab write-up guidelines



  •  Effectively and accurately synthesize, analyze and report data to articulate the “so what” underneath it.
  • Utilize provided resources and deductive reasoning to seek answers to questions they don’t know or understand.



  •  Develop strategies for more effective data collection and storage in future labs to facilitate lab write-ups

Key Words: Articulate, demonstrate, synthesize, analyze, utilize, develop strategies

Class Outline (verbs, adjectives, nouns) (ILO):

  1. Review general notes pertaining to lab reports applicable to the whole class

  2. Divide the room into quadrants and ask students to identify areas of greatest need

    1. Excel – formulas, tables and charts

    2. CMS – formatting and citations

    3. Math – calculations and interpretation of solutions

    4. Writing skills

  3. Give each group 15-20 minutes to work together to resolve issues of concern and confusion

  4. Report discoveries and remaining questions back to whole group

Class Learning Assessment (CLA):

Students will work independently to revise lab report 1 and receive points back for any improvements up to half the total points missed.

Achieved my goal                  
Somewhat achieved my goal              
More work to get close to my goal  √ 


I REALLY liked this lesson plan, but it had quite a different result than I expected… mainly because I didn’t get the opportunity to execute it. I had this planned for after the students took an exam, and the amount of time spent on the exam varied among students by over an hour. In an effort to not keep students waiting that long, I ended up giving whispered verbal feedback individually and outlining my comments in a shared document for them to review later. That’s fine, but not at all what I had hoped for.

It became clear to me through reading their reports that this particular group of students needs instruction in the basics of using Excel and scientific writing. When I assigned the report I made an assumption that they had a skill set they don’t actually have.

Old Lauren would have thrown up her hands and typed out a philosophical manifesto on the degradation of high school education and the unpreparedness of students and how it’s not my job to teach them these things.

New Lauren thinks: why not? Somebody should take the time to teach them, and it might as well be me. I’m not super awesome at endocrinology, but I can use Excel like a ninja. I’ve been trying to figure out where my value lies within this particular classroom, and I may just have found it.

So, while I didn’t get to do this lesson exactly how or when I planned it, it’s still worth doing at some point during the semester.


Reactions to Action Plans

Forgive me if this sounds arrogant, but teaching action-oriented classes comes naturally to me.

Wait, let me back up a bit.

My first semester as a doc student was all about qualitative research, and it kind of changed my world. When I glanced at the schedule of spring classes, nothing seemed to really “fit.” So, this semester is a whole different ball game. I’m taking a course on college teaching through the Graduate College, which is proving more beneficial for my job than for my journey as a student, but I’m not gonna lie – the timing couldn’t have been better. I’m experiencing a bit of a lull after a number of disappointing experiences dealing with students in the past two semesters, and the process of reflecting on my teaching has been totally cathartic.

The past two weeks, we’ve been charged with creating lesson plans designed to maximize student engagement. Honestly, I sat and stared at a blank sheet of paper… for quite awhile…

The thing is, I don’t really have a lot of practice with making formal lesson plans.


Sometimes grad students have homework, too.

I mean, I make lesson plans, which typically consists of a post-it tucked into my grade book. That makes me sound like a horrible teacher. I plan – I promise – I just haven’t been, to date, that teacher who has stated goals, objectives, and measures of assessment planned for each class period. I’d like to think that’s because it comes naturally…. and, because I’ve learned a lot through trial and error what works and what definitely doesn’t.

This task takes me back to the days when I used to design ballet classes. Every component mapped and beautifully planned. Pedagogical methodology behind every decision I made. Damn, I was good in those days (if I may say so). And what is action-oriented learning if not the stuff of dance classes? I am continually amazed at the transfer of skills from teaching three-year old creative movement classes to teaching college.

We’ve created two lesson plans in as many weeks, and it’s been really interesting to implement a strongly designed lesson plan. In this first example, I developed a new lab for my students in KN-240 Instructional Techniques in Fitness.

Class: KN-240
Level: 200
Duration: 110 minutes
Resources: Weight room equipment, white board, student notebooks

Student learning outcomes (SLOs): Always state what the students in your class will achieve because of their engagement in your class

  1. Students will gain practical experience watching, doing, and leading one-on-one exercise instruction.

  2. Students will evaluate trainer effectiveness through peer-driven feedback, instructor feedback, and group reflections

Instructional objectives (IOs): State the things you will do as a teacher to help students achieve the intended learning. In other words, what will you do to get the outcomes you desire?

  1. Instructor will divide class into groups of four at random, and each group will select roles as the trainer, client, or observers.

  2. Working in these roles, the trainer will conduct an interview of the client to establish goals and needs, executing a mini-workout session of three exercises from a pre-selected list.

  3. Observers will share peer-to-peer feedback within groups before switching roles, and the cycle is completed three more times.

  4. Convene as a whole class to share observations and reflections.

Class pre-work: State what students should have prepared (you too) to engage in this class.

  1. Students should have reviewed chapters on communication and exercise coaching technique.

  2. Supplementary technique clinics have been offered

Student Engagement Techniques (SETs):

  1. Instructor, TA, and UTA will circulate the group probing the observers on what they see.

  2. Instructors will witness peer feedback sessions and supplement where necessary

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

  1. Verbal feedback from Instructors

  2. Peer feedback

  3. In-class evaluation of coaching technique (in a later class)

The verdict? A rousing success