Division of Academic Innovation

OLC Webinar: Is the Learning Experience Significant? Using Fink’s Taxonomy to (Re)Design and Evaluate Asynchronous Distance Learning Courses

Evidence-based instructional strategies provide effective frameworks for designing both in-person and distance learning experiences that effectively achieve course learning outcomes. Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning (FTSL) is an evidence-based instructional strategy originally developed for in-person courses that describes six kinds of learning goals which exist in interwoven domains. When learning experiences promote interaction between different domains, a significant learning experience that lasts beyond course completion is more likely to occur. For instructors teaching asynchronous distance learning courses, how can we design learning experiences that promote meaningful and long-lasting change in the learner’s life? And, how do we evaluate and assess said experiences?

During this session, we will explore both questions using pedagogical principles that connect with FTSL, as well as insights from a recent scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) study implemented during Autumn semester 2021. In the SoTL study, we evaluated if a student’s learning experience in a 100% asynchronous distance learning course designed using FTSL contributed toward positive changes in their health promotion behaviors that lasted beyond course completion. Preliminary findings from the SoTL study demonstrate evidence of student learning gains in five of six learning domains (foundational knowledge, application, integration, the human dimension, and caring; according to Fink1). Learning gains also connect with statistically significant shifts in some student health promotion behaviors, including strengthened behavioral intentions related to safe medication use, storage, and disposal, increased likelihood to avoid medication misuse behaviors, and increased confidence toward teaching others medication safety and helping others whose use of substances has them concerned.

Therefore, this session will help attendees explore questions such as, how do instructors use FTSL to (re)design asynchronous distance learning courses? What are examples of assessments that support achieving course goals around significant learning, and what methodologies exist to evaluate the effectiveness of said assessments toward achieving these outcomes? What research strategies can instructors utilize to evaluate if a student’s learning experience on a whole-class scale produces long-lasting and meaningful change in their life?

Key Takeaways:

Attendees will leave with course design principles that aim to reach online students with meaningful learning experiences, as well as research strategies to assess achievement of significant learning goals both during and after course completion.

Intended Audience:

Design thinkers, faculty, researchers


Molly Downing, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor: The Ohio State University); Cynthia Canan, Ph.D. (Lecturer, Pharmacy: The Ohio State University)

Registration is available on the Online Learning Consortium website. 


Mar 15 2023


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Mar 15 2023
  • Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Online Only


Online Learning Consortium (OLC)
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