Creating a seamless student learning experience: merchandising math

In DSGN 472, Merchandise Planning and Control, students learn retail merchandising math at computational and conceptual levels.  Currently, content is delivered through a series of lectures paired with in-class activities.  Students apply what they learn through math homework assignments and Excel-based assignments developed with assistance from merchandising professionals.  Current course learning outcomes include:

  • Solve and interpret mathematical problems related to merchandise planning and control.
  • Use appropriate mathematical techniques throughout the six-month planning process.
  • Apply qualitative, analytical, and technical skills to develop merchandise assortment plans that are in-line with specific target markets, geography, selling format, marketplace trends, and performance goals.
  • Communicate rationale for decision-making throughout the assortment plan development process.
  • Use industry-relevant technology to formulate and communicate merchandising decisions.

Non-hybrid format:  This 4-credit course meets twice a week (1 hour, 50 minute each session). Class size ranges from 25 to 50 students.

Hybrid format:

  • Face-to-Face instruction/interaction will occur at the beginning of each week (100 minutes).  This time will be used to have in-class discussions that stem from reading online group discussion which occurred during the previous week, a review activity and question/answer session addressing math concepts covered the previous week, a short introduction to math concepts that will be included in math problem sets for the current week (this introduction will include an in-class activity).  Class time will also be used to introduce the more complex Excel-based assignments (6-month plan, assortment plan).
  • Online instruction/interaction will occur after the face-to-face class session (100 minutes throughout the week.  Students will watch a series of tutorials that introduce each math concept and related computations.  Typically, one tutorial will cover only one math concept.  After watching each tutorial, students will complete a practice math problem set.  When they struggle with a specific problem, students can access an “on-demand” tutorial that shows a video of how to solve the problem.  In addition to watching tutorials and completing math problem sets, students will search online for current news articles that relate to the math concepts covered during the week.  Students will work in small groups set up on Canvas to share and synthesize what they learned from the news articles (note:  each group will share what they learned with the entire class in the next face-to-face setting).
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Histopathology in Hybrid Format

Skin Pustule

Identification of specific disease processes is essential for the diagnosis, treatment and prognostication of health issues in patients of any species. Disease processes can lead to functional and/or morphological changes in tissues and cells of the body. Some of these changes can be readily identified by physical examination or by using clinical imaging modalities (radiographs, MRI, CT). However, in many instances microscopic examination of affected organs is required and comes in two primary flavors. 1. Cytology is minimally invasive and examines individual cells taken from tissues and fluids. 2. Histology is more invasive but allows examination of tissues (i.e., cells in context). In general, disease processes lead to very specific and distinct morphological changes. Thus, cytological and histological examination of diseases organs can add tremendous value to the clinical work-up.

The Basic and Advanced Histopathology Electives provide students in the third year (VMB768) or fourth year (VMB786) of the veterinary curriculum with the opportunity to connect basic veterinary sciences such as anatomy and histology with the study of diseases (pathology, microbiology) and clinical practice (medicine, dermatology, oncology). The courses are unique due to their interdisciplinary and interactive approach, practice-relevant content and use of simulations. Actual cases sourced from submissions to Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory are used to illustrate the logical progression in the work-up of a clinical case: from the patient history and clinical presentation through sample collection and submission to the diagnosis based on diagnostic tests (cytology and histopathology) and communication of results (case report). More specifically, the courses provide students with an opportunity to

  • explore the utility and limitations of two common diagnostic approaches (cytology and histopathology) used in companion animal practice and
  • develop an understanding of best practices in the diagnostic work-up of common disease conditions in a simulated environment. Enrollment is currently limited to 10 students per session. In the hybrid format, enrollment will be limited to 25 students per session.

Enrollment is currently limited to 10 students per session. In the hybrid format, enrollment will be limited to 25 students per session.
Students use out-of-class time to

  • review and critically appraise case materials (patient histories, sample submission sheets, virtual cytology and histology slides)
  • practice descriptive skills, and synthesize case data to formulate diagnoses
  • identify likely differential diagnoses
  • devise treatment plans, and
  • articulate prognostications.

In addition, students research the primary disease conditions and writes a brief synopsis.

On-site/in-class group discussions use a multiheaded microscope and overhead projection system to permit in-time visual cues and illustrations. The group discussions center on the case materials and the case work-ups generated by the students online with the goal to

  • integrate independent online work,
  • practice communication skills,
  • clarify uncertainties,
  • further explore the diagnostic process.

Students are assesses on quality of their case write-ups, participation in the discussion and demonstration of skills (microscopy).

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H 513 – a monster of a hybrid course

H 513 Integrated Approach to Public Health comprises the common core of the MPH degree, something that used to be accomplished through 5 separate courses.  The H 513 learning objectives cover critical and interdisciplinary content in foundational areas of public health, and the course is designed to deliver that core knowledge in a way that demonstrates both the application and the integration of the different public health disciplines. This course is team-taught by 5 instructors, is required for all incoming MPH students (51 last year) and is 12 credits.  Hence, the monster.

We are structuring the hybrid version to meet 2x a week.  Tuesdays will be devoted primarily to a “data camp” which will cover introductory material in quantitative and qualitative methods.  Thursdays will be used for a case study which will allow students to apply the concepts covered that week in the online materials.  We will be using online discussions, short assignments and activities, and quizzes (self-study and graded) to assess student progress and knowledge.  In addition, students will be organized into Student Learning Community groups the first week of class and those groups will work through a course project together.

The key method we are using to link the online material and the classroom time is the weekly case study.  Each case study will be tied to the learning objectives for that week, which in turn are mapped to course-level learning objectives.  Our hope is that this case study approach will both illustrate and reinforce the course concepts while also giving the students an opportunity to explore additional concepts.  If it all works like envisioned, maybe we can tame this monster.

Image result for frankenstein


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My hybrid course in a nutshell

FIN 441 talks about financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies, and investment funds, etc. Students will learn how financial institutions operate and why their efficient operation is important to the economy. The course is offered in the fall (2 sections) and winter term (1 section) and each section is expected to have 45 enrolled students. The course will be conducted in a hybrid format. The online and classroom meeting will be equally weighted. The classroom meeting will take place once per week, with 10 meetings in total plus a final. Students must have taken FIN 240 (finance) or BA 360 (intro to financial management) before taking the course. It is expected that students will mostly be in their 3rd or 4th year and will have at least chosen finance as their major or minor.

The weekly course cycle is described as follows. First, a weekly learning module will be posted. A typical learning module will include reading assignments (e.g., textbook), online lecture videos, a short online quiz, and a low-stakes homework assignment. The online quiz and the low-stakes assignment are expected to be completed before they come to the class. In addition to online learning module, I will pose weekly questions in the discussion board and incentivize students to share their opinions online with bonus points. After students fully absorb the knowledge from the online learning module, they will come to the class to demonstrate their understanding.

The main activity during the classroom meeting is the “guided and graded” in-class group exercise. Students will work as a group (which includes up to 4 members per group) on the problem sheet they receive in the beginning of the class. The problem sheet typically includes about 10 quantitative problem solving and may include some essay questions. Although students work with group members, they submit their answers individually before leaving the classroom. They are allowed to use textbook or any internet resources as an aid. And since it is guided, if they have any questions or encounter any difficulties, I will be their guide and provide them with hints. The difference between online quiz and the in-class exercise is that the former measures the degree to which students achieve the lower learning domain in Bloom’s taxonomy while the latter focuses on the higher learning domain. The in-class exercise thus reinforces the online learning activities through the development of problem solving skill and the application of the concepts they learn online into practical examples.

After the classroom meeting, a new cycle begins.


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Designing the Hybrid Introduction to Merchandising Management Course

DSGN 276: Introduction to Merchandising Management is four credit course that provides the introductory knowledge necessary to prepare students for working in the retail industry. It introduces students to the retail industry including basic terminology, industry history, and merchandising management decisions. The course prepares students for the more advanced knowledge acquired in the Merchandising Management design major and business administration concentration. The course bridges the College of Business first-year experience with the Merchandising Management curriculum. Students are generally College of Business sophomores, but the class also includes some upper-level students who were admitted under a prior curriculum catalog and still need to complete the course as a graduation requirement.

While the face-to-face course design met 1 hour and 50 minutes twice a week, the three sections of 35-45 students for the hybrid design being offered Fall 2018 will meet once a week for an hour and 50 minutes. The primary course objectives are for students to (1) recognize and recall basic retail and merchandising terminology and (2) use basic retail math skills to solve merchandising management pricing problems. The secondary course objectives are for students to (3) discuss potential career paths in the retail industry and merchandising management and (4) interpret retail history in the U.S. to understand how the retail industry has evolved to its current environment.

Students complete online multiple choice quizzes on the assigned textbook readings. Previously, in-class lectures occurred during the first of two days a topic was covered. Under the hybrid format, lectures will be presented as video recordings and be viewed by students online. The discussion questions related to the lecture topics will become online discussion questions. In the face-to-face course design, the second class meeting included in-class activities, which will continue to occur during the face-to-face meetings of the hybrid course. These activities include Think-Pair-Share related the week’s topic, reading an online timeline of the History of Retail in the U.S. and discussing the key themes for a period of time, conducting a gap analysis of skills needed for their potential retail career, grouping retailers based on format type, analyzing the customer segments for a given zipcode, completing practice retail math problems, and examining pricing strategies of competing retailers. Finally, student’s knowledge will be assessed with exams.

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General Human Nutrition (NUTR 225) in a nutshell

General Human Nutrition (NUTR 225) is a 3-credit course designed for non-nutrition majors. NUTR 225 addresses the relationship of food and nutrients to the promotion of health and fitness across the lifespan, with emphasis on the young adult. Current issues in food and nutrition (e.g., fad diets, food safety, food security, dietary supplements) are also examined. Current enrollment in the in-seat course is 114 students. The course is open to all students, and is required for some CPHHS majors as well as students in some nursing and dental hygiene programs. The majority of students who take this course have very little, if any, science background. They are generally very interested in learning about nutrition and health from a consumer perspective.

The in-seat course currently meets in the classroom on a T/Th schedule. My plan is for the hybrid course to meet in the classroom on Th only. Classroom and online meeting times will be used for the following activities:

Classroom time is for:
1. Providing an overview of major and minor concepts, and how they fit together
2. Explaining difficult concepts
3. Expanding on the textbook to include newer and more advanced information on current issues
4. Participating in group activities
5. Taking exams
6. Asking and answering questions

Online time is for:
1. Completing modules that will prepare students for in-class meetings, including readings and videos
2. Taking pre-class quizzes to assess learning and to inform the instructor on which topics are most difficult
3. Engaging in peer discussions related to course topics
4. Completing the course project, including peer review
5. Participating in group activities
6. Asking and answering questions

Online and classroom experiences will be linked in a variety of ways. Specifically, the online activities will help students prepare for class by completing readings, video lectures, and quizzes prior to class meetings. Class time can then be used to focus on difficult concepts and to expand on current issues in nutrition. Students will have opportunities to interact with one another and with the instructor via discussions that will take place both online and in the classroom, for example. Students will also complete a course project, which will be primarily completed online with requirements for peer review that will take place online and face-to-face during class time. As I continue to develop this course, my goal is to incorporate more experiential learning opportunities, in and out of the classroom.

I am looking very forward to offering the hybrid version of NUTR 225, and to seeing how it evolves over time. I believe the students will greatly enjoy the hybrid course delivery!

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Open-ended Discussion Boards to enable student-led discovery/content

For my course I will have 2 open-ended discussion boards that students can post new information that they have come across from other sources outside the class.  This will allow students to contribute to the direction of the course discsussion while earning optional extra credit points toward their grade in the process.  The first of these will be to post relevant news articles on climate change.  The second will be to post relevant blogs, youtube videos, or websites that question whether:

  • the climate is warming,
  • humans are responsible,
  • warming will have an impact, or
  • it is feasible to try to make a change.

Below is the post for the News discussion Board.  I would love it if folks have suggestions or thoughts on how to improve upon it.  Thanks in advance!  Jillian

Example Discussion Board Post:

WOW – Global Climate Change is all over the News!  And just in time while you are taking this course on Introduction to Climate Change.  To help keep everyone abreast of all that is happening, post Global Climate Change News articles or links of interest on this new Discussion Board.

Maximum extra credit on this Discussion Board will be 40 points.
All points will be added after the Discussion Board closes at the end of week 9.
5 points: Posted a link to an article, blog, seminar, etc. together with an overview of the content and a statement describing what aspect of this course’ lectures/labs/reading it addresses. (Also post each to Turnitin!)
1 point (maximum of 5 of these types of posts):
Conversational post
                e.g.: “OMG, XXX is so amazing! (must be specific to the post!).
                           Then state what further information would you want to know?
                           Thanks for posting!
3 points (maximum 3 of these types of posts):
Short but thoughtful response to someone else’s post (1 paragraph).
e.g.: I agree with you and also found the part where they said “xxx” super interesting.  Although I am not sure I agree with or understand the point where they said “xxx”.  Does anyone get this or have any insights on xxx???  It seemed related to xxx in this course….
5 points: Involved response to someone else’s post (2 or more paragraphs).
Should include additional links or references to course material and be posted to Turnitin!
10 points: Outstanding original post or response that nails the entire issue (3 or more paragraphs).  Must include at least three references using proper citation format as outlined in the Start Here module and be posted to Turnitin.
“Liking” is also possible – so go ahead and “like” posts that you find interesting!


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Online Course Design Pitfall #4: Expect your students to consume knowledge rather than create it.

I find this pitfall difficult to overcome, especially, when I think about how I should address areas, which have traditionally been taught with a face-to face lecture (e.g. anatomy, physics, etc..) in a small, but still large class. I struggle sometimes at the beginning of a class understanding/estimating  were student stand in regards to their knowledge. Doing case discussions helps me usually to better understand where the class stands and what key concepts they feel comfortable with or not; however, I have so far only done in in classes, which are about half the size from the new class . I checked out how people flip the classroom in medical education and came across the Khan university website. On the Kah website, I could find a lectures series about cervical radiography; however, that looked relative basic in regards to radiography. I had also been wondering if radiology is ready to flip the class room and came accross the artilce ”

“Practice Corner: Is Radiology Education Ready for a Flipped Classroom?

…mastery of medical knowledge is only one of the core competencies as defined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The other competencies are professionalism, patient care, practice-based learning and improvement, systems-based practice, and interpersonal skills and communication. These skills are not easily conveyed in a short video: They must be modeled. A radiology curriculum commons may act as a substitute for textbooks and live didactic lectures, but local radiology faculty will still be needed to reinforce medical knowledge and to help trainees develop the other professional competencies. After all, “professionalism is at the core of the art, as well as the science, of medicine” and “we learn the art from role models, from the people around us” (6).”

I am not sure, if students can easily provide knowledge do a degree needed in class and teach it; however, I agree that there is a lot of potential in students and I/we need to look for the best way tapping it. I envision that the class may have some of both elements, including short lecture series and lots of discussion sessions.


Author List


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Innovation in Online Team Projects

My goal, since this is a new course is to “author” not “re-author” my course materials to take full advantage of the benefits of both in-class and online delivery methods. The course; Introduction to Design Management is a 300 level, undergraduate course and is the first course students will take in the design management option. As a new course, students have no expectations of how the course was previously offered and this is both exciting and challenging, as I have no roadmap to use as a guide. I do know that I want the online content to push students to utilize online tools and practices in creative and collaborative ways. I chose pitfalls #1: Upload your course materials, then call it a day and #5: Ignore the ways students learn from each other to respond to.

I am particularly interested in exploring innovative ways the online portion of the course can push team projects in new directions. One idea that I am considering is to have groups create their own unique online presence, enabling the entire class to see how all teams in the class are organizing and managing a given project. In addition to their own group members, students can collaborate with teams outside of their group and share feedback and ideas. One of the great things that online courses provide is the opportunity to have more transparency throughout a project compared to a non-hybrid class, because the digital material is available all the time and the entire class can have access. In a typical non-hybrid course, students utilize class time for team meetings and presentations, but the students rarely see the daily or weekly progress and process of how other teams are working. Allowing teams to see one another’s process, progress and being allowed to contribute to other team’s process and progress may create a richer and more transparent experience for students. My hope is that innovative online team experiences will expand student’s collaborative toolkit, help them gain confidence in peer learning and discussion and aid students in letting go of “ownership” in collaborative work.

Team building and coaching flow chart on blackboard


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Avoiding the “Sage on the Stage”

How does your class add value to the wealth of free online content available to students?  I believe this is a central question to creating any successful class, but especially for hybrid courses when a large portion of content delivery is online.  There are three ways I will try to address this question with the environmental materials for H513.  First is determining the key content and learning objectives for what MPH students need to know to be successful public health practitioner. This is not an easy task given the breadth of the field and the rapid pace of change. Second is connecting existing and new resources to these learning objectives that promote problem-based learning through weekly case-studies, as well as other online activities that connect concepts to current environment health issues. Advise welcome here! Finally, I would like to integrate experiential learning components (e.g. where students would be given inexpensive air pollution monitors to capture/understand local pollution sources) but I am still unsure how to best fit this into a hybrid format.  Advise welcome!

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