OTL301 Post 2 – Re-visiting Teaching Presence

After delving more into the concept of teaching presence, I don’t think my view of effective practice has changed very much. What has been highlighted for me though, is the extreme importance of teaching presence. I agree with the authors who state that it is much more effective for the instructor to have presence than to just sit on the side-lines, which I imagine is fairly easy to do in an on-line context. Putting in the effort to have a sustained presence will make the course experience more enjoyable for students, and I would venture to guess, instructors as well.

The practice I referred to in my first post (OTL301 Post 1) demonstrated the direct instruction aspect of teaching presence. The instructor, via personal email, responded to questions, explained concepts, diagnosed misconceptions, and responded to technical concerns.

In terms of direct instruction, I’m not sure it could have been more effective! However, lacking from the course, in my opinion, was the aspect of facilitating discourse. There was not very much communal posting, therefore, not much discussion for the instructor to motivate, move along, or draw links to (identifying congruence and disparity of ideas/opinions).


OTL301 Post 1 – My Experience with Online Learning

Although I have been teaching face-to-face for a number of years, on-line teaching is new to me. I have just begun teaching my on-line course at TRU.

About a decade ago I took an on-line course that was about on-line teaching. We focused on various multi-media modalities (how to create a website and a podcast, understanding programs such as Elluminate, etc.). All of the on-line “tech” terms were very new and confusing to me and because of my lack of comfort and familiarity with technology, the class tasks/assignments seemed daunting.

One practice which was extremely effective was the instructor’s presence. She was extremely available, patient, and encouraging. Even though I asked a million questions, she never made me feel incompetent. She responded to email questions very quickly and gave lengthy answers/explanations. She offered to speak to me over the phone and always checked in to make sure that her explanation had clarified my query. Although I found the class difficult and stressful, her way of being present with me made me feel supported and motivated me to persevere.

One thing I wish is that she had made accessible to us a document of FAQ’s (I probably could have saved myself and her quite a bit of time!) as well as a glossary document (often in her replies to me, she would use technological terms that I did not understand. I would then need to send a second email asking her to explain them to me).

I have a glossary document of key course concepts that I send to my students as soon as they register and I am in the process of creating an FAQ document (because I have just started teaching this course, I haven’t yet had very many questions). I hope to be as responsive and supportive of my students as my instructor was with me; she left a lasting impression.

OTL201 Post 6 Learning Activity 4 – APA “Cliffs Notes”

As students in Psychology, students must submit their work in APA format. This can be very daunting – the APA manual is very long and detailed. In order to help students, I’ve created this Cliffs Notes version of the APA manual, with examples to illustrate each point. It covers everything they’ll need to know for the purposes of using APA in their coursework for my class.

APA Style Info

This is some basic APA information. For a much more in-depth look at APA style see: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (2009). Washington, DC: APA.


1” (one-inch) margins all around

Double spaced (even the title page)

Times New Roman 12-pt font


In the header, you will put your Running head (“R” is capitalized, “h” is not, the word is followed by a colon, then a space, then a synopsis of your title, all written in CAPS). Flush left = the Running head, which is a synopsis of your title, 50 characters max.  *NOTE: A Running head is not required for the Psyc course 3991

Flush right = page number. Your title page is page 1 (*note:  do not put a “p.” or “pp.” or “pg.” in front of the page number

Your title is a summary of the main idea of your paper. It is centred, in the upper ½ of the page, and in upper and lower case letters

Underneath your title is your name (First, middle initial, Last) (for our course, put a comma after your name and then put your student number)

Underneath your name is your institutional affiliation (Thompson Rivers University)

For our course, under Thonpson Rivers University, please put Psyc 3991, followed by a comma, followed by “Dr. Rourke”

For our course, under Psyc 3991, please put the date on which you handed in the paper/assignment

On the following page is an example of a title page which includes all of the info from above (the formatting does not show up properly on this blog…in the document I’ve created, it’s on its own page, just as their title page would be).



APA Style Information 6th Edition

Jane B. Doe, V0112542

Thompson Rivers University

Psyc 3991, Dr. Rourke

July 15, 2017


Body of your paper:

Your header which includes your Running head (*but no running head is needed for Psyc 3991, just the page number) and page number is to be found on each page

On the first page that you start writing your assignment (i.e., the page after your title page) start off with your title, centred, in upper and lower case letters, then begin your essay.

e.g., (*do not do your document in bold, I did it in bold here so you know where my example starts and ends)

APA Style Information 6th Edition

                APA has just released its sixth edition. Following is a brief list that highlights some of the important changes from, etc. ….

 Okay, continuing on with info about the body of your text:

In a list of 3 or more, put a comma before “or” and “and” (e.g., grass, sun, fog, and rain)

Punctuation = outside brackets

Anchor word (e.g., for Likert Scale) = italicized, e.g.,       1 = Low Arousal    5 = High Arousal

Numbers at the beginning of a sentence are spelled, e.g., “Two ducks flew” (“2 ducks flew” would be incorrect)

Place periods and commas within quotation marks

In your text, italicize the names of books and videos, do not put quotation marks around them, do not underline them, do not bold them

You must cite the work of individuals whose ideas, theories, or research have directly influenced your work

How to cite in-text

APA uses the author-date method

Use the author’s surname (last name) without any suffixes (e.g., Jr.), followed by a comma, followed by year of publication

e.g.:  Enright, 2003

If citing at end of a sentence, do so in brackets (Enright, 2003), put punctuation after the brackets

If citing at beginning of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence, only the date is in brackets, e.g., Enright and McCullough (2001) stated that…

Within the same paragraph, when you’ve already cited that author, the next time you cite them (within that same paragraph) you do not need to put the year, e.g., Enright (1995) found that APA style helped ensure… Enright also found that…

When citing 2 authors, always cite both names. In your sentence, spell out the word “and” e.g., Enright and McCullough (1992) found that…

If citing at the end of your sentence, in brackets, use “&” (no comma between first author and ampersand) e.g., Girls prefer circular shapes while boys prefer triangular ones (Enright & McCullough, 1993) *that is totally made up J

When citing 3 – 5 authors, cite all authors the 1st time, then only the 1st author followed by “et al.” (period after “al”) any subsequent times that you cite them throughout your documents

e.g., 1st time: Enright, McCullough, and Wade (1985) discovered that….

Or, …blah blah blah (Enright, McCullough, & Wade, 1985)   (put a comma before the ampersand)

2nd and any other times: Enright, et al. (1985)  (comma before “et al.”) or …blah blah blah (Enright, et al., 1985) (comma before and after “et al.”)

When citing 2 or more works by the same author(s) (in the same order), sort them by year of publication, earliest 1st. e.g.: if Enright and McCullough wrote something together in 1995 and 1998 and I’m referencing both for the same sentence: …blah blah blah (Enright & McCullough, 1995, 1998)

When citing works by the same author with the same year of publication, use suffixes “a, b, c…” e.g.: …blah blah blah (Enright, 2005a, 2005b)

When citing two or more works by different authors in the same parentheses, organize them by alphabetical order, separate works by a semi-colon, e.g., …blah blah blah (Enright,1985; McCullough, 2003, Wade, 1962; Worthington, 2002)


If you are directly quoting someone’s words (spoken or written) you must use quotation marks. Make sure you reference where the quote came from, including page number (your reference goes after the punctuation and is not followed by any punctuation). e.g., “There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” (Cohen, 1992, stanza 2)

When you are quoting something that is 40 or more words, don’t use quotation marks, instead, do a block quotation: start the quote on the following line, and indent it (all of it, not just the first line). If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, indent each new paragraph by ½ an inch. Make sure you reference where the quote came from (your reference goes after the punctuation and is not followed by any punctuation)

e.g.: blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah (this is your own words/thoughts, and now you want to insert a quote from someone else that is 40+ words:

start the quote on the following line, and indent it (all of it, not just the first line). If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, indent each new paragraph by ½ an inch. Make sure you reference where the quote came from (your reference goes after the punctuation and is not followed by any punctuation). (Doe, 1999, p. 10)

 When quoting in the middle of a sentence that is your own, do not use punctuation at the end of the quote

If you start quoting from the middle of someone’s sentence, use 3 ellipse points  …   to lead into it

If you are omitting stuff from within the sentence (e.g., the middle) you are quoting, then use 3 spaced ellipse points to indicate that you have omitted something  …

If you are quoting from an on-line source and there are no page numbers, put the number of the paragraph (para. 4); or if the source is broken down into sections, put the name of the section and then the paragraph number (Discussion section, para. 1)

Reference list (last page of your document – list of all the references you cited in-text)

The word “References” is centered at the top of the page (there are no quotation marks around the word)

Organize by alphabetical order (surname/last name)

1st line of each citation is flush left, all others underneath it are indented


Enright, R. D.,…blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
McCullough, W. R., … blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah


Authors last name, comma, their initials (put a period followed by a space after each initial), comma, year of publication in brackets, period.

If journal article, then include: Title of article with only first word capitalized (and word after colon, and proper nouns), period. Title of Journal in upper and lower case letters, comma, volume number, all italics. (If the pages in the journal are paginated separately by issue, then include the issue number in brackets immediately after the volume number, but do not italicize it), comma, page numbers of the article, period. Then, include the Digital Object Identifier (doi) (type “doi” then put a colon) – the doi can usually be found in the upper right hand corner of the first page of the article, and it begins with the number 10. On-line, it can also be found in the data bases (e.g., Psyc Info) if you click on the “full record display” for that article. Do not put a period after the doi



Enright, R. D., McCullough, Q. X. (1999). The old lady swallowed a fly. Social

     Sciences Quarterly, 5, 88-97. doi: 10.1097/0399-845.22.6.675

If there is no doi, and you are using an on-line source, then include the home page URL of the journal/book/report publisher (do not put a period after it)


Enright, R. D., McCullough, Q. X. (1999). The old lady swallowed a fly. Social

     Sciences Quarterly, 5, 88-97. Retrieved from http://wisewords.com

If citing a book chapter instead of a journal article, after the author’s names and date of publication, put the chapter title. Capitalize only the first word, a word after a colon, or proper nouns. If there are editors to the book, write “In” then put the names of the editors (first initial followed by surname/last name) followed by brackets and the letters Eds., e.g., (Eds.), comma, title of book in upper and lowercase letters and italicized, period. Then put the City and State/Province where published (city, comma, state), followed by a colon, and the name of the publisher, period.


Enright, X. Y. (1977). The grass is never greener on the other side. In J.

Worthington and S. Crosby (Eds.), Common Myths Debunked. New York, NY:

Potter-House Publishing.

In your reference list, if citing works by the same author, but different dates of publication, work with earliest year of publication comes first

Referencing a video

Name of whomever produced it goes first (last name first), then in brackets write “Producer,” period, year came out (in brackets), period. Name of movie in italics, upper and lower case letters, then DVD in square brackets, period.

e.g., Kovalev, A. (Producer). (2009). A Player’s Story: The Year I left the Habs. [DVD].

OTL201 Post 5 – Integrating Social Presence

2 concepts that have impacted my thoughts on student engagement and retention + a question: I was surprised by the research findings that various modes of media delivery (paper & pencil, projector, PPT, video, animation, etc.) do not have a significant impact on success in the course. I was not surprised that certain types of media increase student engagement more than others but I would think that as student engagement increases, so does success in the course. A question I have is, “what is the relationship between level of student engagement and successful completion of a course?”

I was also impacted by the definition of social presence as not only creating relationships (i.e., who is the real person behind the computer?) but also as identifying and promoting the academic purpose of the learning environment so as to facilitate a group identity…this notion that academic goals should precede the development of social relationships. I hadn’t really thought in terms of one building off the other like that, but it makes sense. If you can create a group identity, then this should facilitate the formation of personal relationships.

My rationale for implementing 1 or 2 course facilitation strategies to increase student retention and engagement: Two strategies I’d like to implement are the creation of a FAQ section and some tutorials to discuss key course concepts. I want to use these strategies so that students feel supported and motivated (i.e., create a safe learning environment). I also hope that the FAQ section will create some structure (students check this area to see if their question can be answered before emailing me).

2 goals I’d like to achieve regarding social presence and creating effective educational media: I’d like to increase my social presence by posting an introductory video and posting 1 tutorial per module (there are 4 modules) which would include a brief discussion of a key concept with an invitation for them to post comments and ask questions.

I’d also like to create a FAQ document. To do this, I will use questions that I receive from students via email and questions that I see in their posts. Because I am new to teaching this course, this document may take a bit of time to put together…thus far, there have been few questions.

OTL201 Post 4: Video Time!

Here is a video that I created for this post but will also use for my new on-line course which is a course on the psychology of resilience. It’s an introductory video so that my students can get to know me a bit more personally. Please click on the following link: IMG_0125

Alternatively, you can view it via YouTube at: https://youtu.be/ftSA4h0eh6U


OTL201 Post 3 – Learning Activity 3 – Welcome Letter

Although students receive a welcome/introduction letter from the university as soon as they register in my course, I think it’s important for them to receive one specifically from me as well.

In terms of my teaching style, I like to get to know my students and have a bit of personal interaction with them – this is one way to get that ball rolling.

Next steps: I’m going to create a video to post on our course website so that I can repeat a bit of this letter in a way that lets them see me and hear me (put a face to the name sort of thing).

No links for this – I simply included a bit of information about myself, and tried to include some details to clarify course requirements/expectations.

Below is the letter I email to them:

Hello *insert student name*!

Welcome to *insert course name/number* – I look forward to learning about resilience with you! Please take the time to read through this email – it contains information that will help you successfully complete this course. I’m sending this to your personal email rather than through Moodle because there are some documents I wanted to attach and I cannot do that through Moodle.

A bit about me: I enjoy all aspects of social psychology; however, my main area of research is forgiveness, and I have studied it from both the victim and perpetrator perspectives. I obtained my degrees in Social-Personality Psychology and in addition to teaching on-line at TRU, I teach at the University of Victoria and Camosun College, and I work at Restorative Justice Victoria.

The best way to reach me is via email. If you’d prefer to speak to me over the phone you are of course welcome to call and leave me a voice mail message (insert phone number), HOWEVER, my preference would be for you to email me a request for a time for us to chat, that way, we don’t waste any time playing phone-tag. When you email me, please make sure to include your full name and student number.

Also, please note that under the “General Forums” tab on our course website, you’ll have access to two discussion boards that you might find useful when you have a question. The Student Café Forum is where you can chat with others in the course about matters of mutual interest regarding your studies and professional development. The Resilience Room Forum is an informal place to post any questions or comments you might have about the course (readings, concepts, etc.) and to exchange ideas with others in the course. Although I might pop in and comment from time-to-time, you are not graded for any posts submitted to either of these two forums – they’re simply a way for you to connect with others in the course.

Attached to this email are a document containing definitions of concepts that are key to doing well in this course, a document listing what you’ll need to include in essays that you submit (Part B of your assignments and for your Final Project Exam), and a Cliff Notes version of the APA 6th edition manual that I have a created for you – it contains all the information (and more!) you’ll need to know about APA for your assignments in this course.

The course is divided into four Modules and a Final Project Exam (check out the Final Project tab for information about your Final Project Exam). There are readings associated with each Module that you must complete to do the assignments. You can find the list of readings by clicking on the Overview tab for each Module (in the overview section you’ll also find the learning objectives for that module).

When you click on the Module tab, you’ll then see that it’s further divided into topics (e.g., Module 1 has four topics) and that each topic has several activities associated with it (e.g., Module 1, Topic 1, has two activities). I recommend taking a quick glance at each of the activities in the topics for the module you’re completing before you begin any readings – it will help you know what sort of information to focus on as you complete the readings and will let you know if you need to read the entire article. For instance, for Module 1, Topic 1, Activity 2, What is Psychology? you only need to read certain sections of the assigned reading/website.

As you work through this course, make sure that in addition to completing the required assignments, you also complete the assigned web discussion postings – they are worth 10% of your final grade! Check out the Assignments Overview tab for information about each of your assignments and your web discussions. I look forward to reading your first web discussion and learning more about you!

I’m here to support you as you progress through this course – please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, or for help to work through any course-related struggles you might encounter.

 I hope you enjoy the course!

All the best,


OTL 201 Post 3: Learning Activity 2 – Key concepts

This isn’t a particularly exciting activity, but I think it is an essential one. In order to successfully complete this course (i.e., assignments), students must grasp some core concepts. Below is a bit of a glossary or some of these concepts. I encourage them to contact me and also to post (and respond to posts) any thoughts/questions that they may have about these concepts.

In terms of my teaching practice, I want my students to do well and I want to make the tools for doing well readily available to them. Because there is no textbook, a glossary such as this one can come in handy.

I have no links for this activity – textbooks/articles, and the lovely teacher who is teaching the other half of this course! were the creators of this list.

“Hello Students:
Below you’ll find a brief review of some of the key concepts/terms you’ll be exposed to in this course. To do well in this course, you must have a good understanding of these concepts. Please contact me with any questions you may have. I also encourage you to post any questions you may have and to comment on others’ questions if you have something you think would help them in their understanding of the concept.

Review of Key Concepts
Resilience factor: A moderator variable (i.e., interactive variable) that reduces adverse outcomes (i.e., improves outcomes) in an at-risk group. It affects the strength of the relationship between predictor (risk factor) and outcome (what the researchers are measuring).

In this course, we are looking at resilience which means we are always focusing on an at-risk group.

**When you are locating (resilience) studies (i.e., for assignments), make sure that the subject sample is an at-risk group! How do you know if the subjects are an at-risk group? The criterion that the researchers used for subject selection (e.g., children of divorce; foster children, survivors of natural disaster, etc.) defines the risk factor.

E.g., foster children (at-risk group/risk factor) who have high self-esteem (resilience factor) have reduced rates of depression (outcome).

For a study to be a “resilience” study, three central variables are required (remember these when selecting studies for assignments!):
1) risk factor/at-risk group
2) outcome measure
3) resilience factor

Risk factor: The variable that is typically used for subject selection, and defines the “at-risk” group (subject sample).

Caution: Things can get a bit confusing because authors sometimes incorrectly refer to vulnerability factors or mediator variables as risk factors (see below for an explanation of vulnerability factors and mediator variables).

Resource factor: A variable (additive variable) that reduces adverse outcomes/improves outcomes in everyone (entire population) regardless of risk status.

E.g., children (entire population of children, whether at-risk or not) who have high self-esteem have lower rates of depression. Here there is a direct correlation between self-esteem (predictor) and depression (outcome) because risk status is not included in this research design (i.e., they looked at the entire population).

Although it’s important to understand this concept, in this course, we are not focusing on resource factors.

Vulnerability factor: A moderator variable (i.e., interactive variable) that increases adverse outcomes in an at-risk group. This is the opposite of a resilience factor and is not the focus of this course.

E.g., foster children (subject sample; risk factor) who are found to have low self-esteem (vulnerability factor) have increased rates of depression (adverse outcome).

Mediator: A variable that explains the relationship between a predictor variable and an outcome variable.

E.g., low socio-economic status (SES; predictor variable) leads to poor parenting practices (outcome variable). Parental stress (correlated with low SES) is the reason why low SES leads to poor parenting practices; it is an intervening variable that is responsible for/accounts for the relationship between predictor and outcome.

Mediators are also not the focus of this course, however, you are likely to come across them in the studies you read and as such, should understand them.”