One of the intended learning outcomes for my on-line course is: Critically assess research studies on human resilience to identify and discuss the findings and the limitations of the research as well as areas where future research is needed.
One learning activity that is aligned with this outcome is the writing of a short essay that evaluates the research on resilience. Students are asked to critically think about the research they’ve encountered throughout the course – how that research has evolved, key issues in the field, and areas still in need of research. They are also asked to explore and expand on their own personal thoughts/opinions about the topic – the areas they find most interesting and surprising.
I think linking topics you learn about to your own life experiences and personal thoughts/opinions helps foster the critical thinking process.
A second learning outcome for my on-line course is: Describe some of the practical applications or interventions suggested by the research on human resilience.
There are written assessments (i.e., short answer and essay) which ask the learners to consider and evaluate specific treatment programs/interventions. In addition, throughout the course, students are asked to participate in several web discussions – they must post their own discussion and they must comment on the discussion posts of others learners in the course (comment in a way that moves the discussion forward). I believe some of these posts, although not directly asking them about interventions, get them thinking about intervention possibilities, which I hope will help them evaluate the intervention programs that they learn about in the course readings. For instance, they are asked to discuss why they believe it is important to study resilience (here they start to think about the importance of varying aspects of resilience and their potential for application in intervention programs). Another post they are asked to submit requires them to find research on protective factors (related to resiliency) and discuss whether they believe these protective factors could generalize to other areas of adversity (and why or why not). Protective factors are one aspect that successful interventions must focus on, so it starts the students thinking along the lines of intervention design.