Certificate in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity​

Course Syllabus
LDN 638—Student Engagement, Self-Regulation, and Motivation

This course is the part of the online professional certificate program in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity (LDN) offered by Landmark College, with specializations in “Executive Function,” “Autism Online and on Campus,” or “Post-Secondary Disability Services” (coming Fall 2022).

One of the most perplexing challenges educators face is to how to effectively motivate students. Relatedly, how do we promote self-directed learning in our students? In this course, we will use the broad construct of self-regulation as a framework for addressing these questions in diverse learners, including students with a learning disability (LD), executive function (EF) challenges, attention deficient hyperactivity disorder, or with autism. Participants in the course will examine a range of strategies and systems to support, actualize, and sustain student engagement. Specific topics covered include encouraging growth mindsets and persistence, developing meta-cognition and self-advocacy skills, and promoting overall student wellness (including nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress reduction).

Three graduate credits will be awarded per course for students achieving a grade of 80% or greater.

This is an 8-week online course. Each week is a module that includes a variety of resources, readings, online discussions, and multimedia activities designed to engage participants in the course content. The course also includes includes 6 weekly online conferences (aka “synchronous sessions”) scheduled primarily in the evenings (Eastern Time). We will make every attempt to accommodate individual schedules, but participants should plan on attending at least 5 of the 6 conference sessions. The course uses Canvas as its Learning Management System. If you’re not familiar with Canvas or online course formats, there is a link to a set of tutorials on using Canvas available on the homepage of the course (once you log in). Registered participants will be provided with details to log on during the week before the start of classes.

The course objectives align with professional standards in the field of LD, specifically the standards for special educators established by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). We have chosen to align to the “Advanced” set of Preparation Standards, as this higher-level set of standards more closely matches the level of content and expertise required of a graduate level course in the field. The CEC Advanced Preparation Standards are linked here, or can be found on the CEC’s website: www.cec.sped.org.

ObjectivesCEC Advanced Preparation Standards
Articulate principles of self-regulation and motivation.2.0, 2.2, 2.3
Debate and discuss current evidence-based motivational practices, including LC’s approach to motivating diverse learners. 2.2, 2.3
4.1, 4.2
Identify and apply strategies, including innovative and emerging trends, for engaging disaffected students.2.2, 2.3
3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Describe effective practices and strategies that support student wellness as a means of increasing motivation.2.3
3.3, 3.4
4.1, 4.2
Evaluate their own professional development within the context of this course with respect to practical applications and lessons learned.3.5
5.4, 5.5

1Executive Function and Self-Regulation
• Introductions: student and instructor self-introductions
• A model of EF (Brown model)
• Self-regulation: background and theory
    -  Importance of self-regulation
• Practical application(s): emotional regulation techniques
• Selected theories of motivation
    -  Intrinsic vs. extrinsic
    -  Seeking behavior (Panksepp)
• Measuring motivation
• Fostering motivation: in and out of the classroom
    -  Practical application: self-advocacy as motivator
• Understanding metacognition
    -  What it is and why should we care about it?
    -  A brief review of empirical evidence supporting the use of metacognition
• Practical application(s): metacognitive tools
    -  EF skills questionnaire
    -  Motivational interviewing
    -  Cognitive wrappers
4Fostering Motivation
• Habits, routines, and goal setting
• Employing a coaching mindset
• Practical application(s): instilling motivational habits in students
    -  Technology tools
    -  Using the “neurotracker” to promote self-awareness and implement goals
    -  SMART goals
5Motivational Blockers
• Stress and anxiety
• Stereotype threat
• Sleep hygiene and sleep deprivation
• Practical application(s)
    -  Reducing stereotype threat
    -  Using sleep hygiene surveys
6Promoting Wellness to Overcome Motivational Blockers
• Exercise
    -  Practical application: tips for promoting exercise
• Mindfulness meditation
    -  Practical application: easy ways to implement meditation tools
• Nutrition
• Reducing stress
    -  Practical application: fostering student resiliency
7From Motivation to Engagement
• The power of growth mindsets
    -  Practical application: simple tips and strategies for instill growth mindsets
• The Four Domains of Learning: A useful tool for engaging learners
• Personalized education
    -  Practical application: new technologies for engaging students
8Final Project and Synthesis
• Putting it all together
    -  Sustaining self-regulation, motivation, and engagement
• Final project

Details of the module format are as follows:

  • Module Objectives—Each module will start by articulating the objectives for that module. The objectives will list anticipated learning of the topics that will be addressed in each module.
  • Activators [graded]—These are designed to help create a community of learners within this course, to understand each other’s perspectives, and to engage in a discourse. Activators will be posed at the start of each module as a query or a scenario to get us thinking about the topic as a group. You will post your own insights, observations, and respond to at least two other posts.
  • Learning Activities—Learning activities serve as instructional content for the module topics. (Example: viewing/listening to presentation slides; reading academic and “popular press” style articles, viewing videos from Landmark College and external experts, and more.)
  • Conferences [graded]—Conferences are the synchronous meeting portion of the course. During this time, we will address queries and points to ponder for discussion with the instructor and your fellow course mates.

    Challenges [graded]—Challenges are activities meant to synthesize what you have learned in each module and apply those to your specific educational environment.

    Additional Resources—A resource repository on EF, motivation, self-regulation, engagement, and LD will be created and added to by all members of this learning community. Recommendations to this forum is not graded, but regular contributions to this section can result in 5 extra grade points for the course.

A new module will be made available every Friday; assignments should be completed by the following Sunday evening, and responses to the Activator prompts by Wednesday to facilitate group discussion.

The final course grade is determined by the following four categories of assignments.

  1. Activators—Most of the modules have graded Activators. You will post an original response and at least two responses to other student posts/comments. For full credit, each of your Activators should follow the specified directions for responses and be posted by the end of the day Wednesday of that week’s module. You should plan on responding to all of the assigned Activators. (6 in total; worth 20% of total grade)
  2. Conferences—During conferences (synchronous meeting via video conferencing) we will discuss questions and comments presented by course participants and instructors. Participants will receive a maximum of 12 points for each of the conference sessions. In these sessions, we are looking for your active participation and thoughtful engagement. There will be 6 conferences in all; you should plan to participate in at least 5 of these synchronous sessions (and will only be graded on 5). (5 of 6 in total; worth 20% of total grade)
  3. Challenges—These assignments will follow each of the modules and require students to think critically about what they’ve learned in the module and apply it to a hypothetical or real work/life situation. (6 in total; worth 30% of total grade)
  4. Final Project—This is the final project of the course and is intended to be relevant to your current or future professional role. The goal of this assignment is to apply the cumulative knowledge from this course to create an item of value to you in your job. Examples of the final project include: (1) presentation slides and associated transcript, YouTube video, text document, or other format intended for students, parents, or professional colleagues; (2) a sample lesson plan with a specific intervention; (3) a tip sheet for parents at your institution; (4) a student guide for using a specific academic support strategy; (5) student orientation program or workshop sequence for addressing academic challenges; (6) a case study detailing a plan of action with a particular student; or (7) other project of your choice. These are just examples, creative ideas for projects that tie directly to your professional work will be considered. Please consult with the instructor about your choice of projects no later than Module 6. (Implementation Project:  90 points; worth 30% of total grade)

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