La Salle Nursing Professor Leverages Blackboard for Advanced Pathophysiology & Advanced Pharmacology

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Dr. Joan FrizzellTo the casual classroom observer, Associate Professor Joan Parker Frizzell PhD CRNP ANP-BC speaks more than one seemingly foreign language while she is teaching in front of her Advanced Pathophysiology and Advanced Pharmacology Graduate students. Not only is Dr. Frizzell fluent in the scientific jargon of the fields of nursing, pathophysiology and pharmacology, she also very proficient in the language of educational technology. By delivering difficult content through many different digital media all housed in a well-designed Blackboard course, Dr. Frizzell prides herself on providing students as many opportunities to master the content as possible.

Carla Grasso RN, a student taking the Advanced Pathophysiology night class at La Salle University’s Bucks Campus refers to Dr. Frizzell as the “Pathophysiology Mother” and a very involved instructor. As mostly working adults, the learners in Dr. Frizzell’s courses need to be able to review crucial course concepts outside the few hours a week of face-to-face class time they have. Between her busy teaching schedule and logging professional hours in the nursing field, Dr. Frizzell has somehow managed to refine her Blackboard course in such a way that enables her to help students even when they are not sitting in front of her.

Here are some highlights from Dr. Frizzell’s Blackboard course:

Resources Right Away

Right up front in the Course Information tab, students can find some help to get them started in the course. Dr. Frizzell posts her syllabus, a course description with a colorful graphic, sample papers, and links to external websites. The clean layout and use of content folders help to organize the content and makes for easy navigation by students.

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Fostering Online Community

To help students get to know one another and keep up with ongoing interaction throughout the course, the discussion board section of Nursing 617 has two areas for informal conversation. An icebreaker discussion topic fosters the initial introductions while a Coffee Break Room provides students with a place to go any time they have questions or want to continue discussions outside of the classroom.

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Differentiated Course Content

In the course content area of the Blackboard course, Dr. Frizzell posts a topic outline for each unit that students can use as a guidepost and a note-taking guide, the full PowerPoint files that accompany her in-class lectures, a folder with PDFs versions of reference articles, and practical examples from the nursing field like a sample prescription format. After a lot of student requests for lecture recordings, Dr. Frizzell accommodated by obtaining a decent microphone and learning a free audio program called Audacity to record, edit, and post podcasts of her lectures right in the content folders of her Blackboard course. Given the advanced subject matter, students find it invaluable to be able to re-listen to Dr. Frizzell’s lectures while reviewing their notes after class.

Building Critical Thinking Skills

Students taking Advanced  Pathophysiology and Advanced Pharmacology need more than a conceptual understanding of course topics, they also need to understand the application of course concepts to clinical practice. In order to foster the critical thinking skills that students will need on the job, Dr. Frizzell assigns case studies from the nursing field for students to read and discuss on the class discussion board. Students are expected to analyze real-life situations and synthesize the course content, inferences, and personal experience to make informed decisions about the best methods for clinical practice to address the specific needs of each case. The digital environment of Blackboard’s discussion forums are a perfect setting for students to discuss case studies, reference online resources, and build their critical thinking skills.

Although Dr. Frizzell didn’t start out as an expert in educational technology, early on she recognized the benefits of supplementing her courses with technology and has spent years developing this skill set. Whether tech savvy or not, professors can expect more and more students to request digital resources to supplement traditional course materials. If you or any of your colleagues could use assistance in this area, please contact the instructional design team at IDteam@lasalle.edu.

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