Course Title:

Advanced Methods in the Elementary STEM Classroom, SOE


Successful and empowering communication within the classroom is multifaceted as learners engage with content, their peers, and the instructor. Learner diversity affects the success of communication and perceptions for both students and instructors and depends upon attitudes, motivation, social and cultural barriers, and the curriculum as shown in Learner Communication (Huckett & Klaas, 2020). One strategy to address these issues is consistent communication of learning objectives to demonstrate relevance and alignment of activities and assessments throughout the course.

Areas of Focus:

  • Learning objectives aligned to assessments

“The multimedia overview utilized the UDL principle of multiple means of engagement to provide context around the major assignment in the course and to create a safe and welcoming environment for students to share their own personal experiences. Students felt that knowing the goals and objectives up front enabled them to reflect upon the assignment purpose and criteria throughout the course as a formative assessment, rather than a summative assessment completed in the last session.”

 Sara Donaldson, instructor

  • Barrier to Student Success

    Students who do not see the context and relevance of course assignments may develop barriers to learning and communication.

  • Solution

    One area where faculty can make an immediate impact on effective communication is through course, session, and assignment objectives that are aligned within a course and with the larger department or program goals. Clear and consistent communication of objectives addresses communication barriers related to students’ attitude and motivation, lack of interest in the curriculum, and problems understanding instruction. Learning objectives provide context for a topic or assignment, activate prior knowledge, and help students set goals to become expert learners. In the STEM Instructional Leader Program at JHU’s School of Education, Sara Donaldson provides context to course assignments and invites students to reflect on their own individual experiences through the STEM Learning Opportunities for Equitable Access and Achievement interactive

  • Student Testimonial

    “Students have multiple formative assessments with feedback they could then apply to their final project, which was a summative assessment. We had discussions, activities, reflections, and projects to build our knowledge throughout the course.   I think that most of the courses hit the expression criteria well. This is because we have individual assignments with feedback that work toward a larger end goal. This scaffolding allows for better understanding at each step.”

  • Alignment with UDL
  • Additional Information

    Division/Department: School of Education, STEM Instructional Leader Program
    HUDL Ambassador: Donna Schnupp 
    Faculty Name: Sara Donaldson
    Instructional Designer: Kelly Cooney

    Video: Genially Learner Communication


    Chardin, M., & Novak, K. (2020). Equity by design: Delivering on the power and promise of UDL. Corwin.

    Huckett, P., & Klaas, B. (2020). Barriers to learning & inclusive pedagogy [MOOC lecture]. In Inclusive Online Teaching Teach-Out. Coursera.