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Teaching Toolkit

Classroom assessment techniques are an effective way to determine if learning transfer is occurring with adult learners.  The following is a list of methods I regularly use in the massage therapy education classroom that help keep learners motivated so that goals can be met. 

"Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence." 

                             -Abigail Adams-


Online Discussion Boards

Some of the benefits of the discussion board is how it helps reinforce concepts, encourage learner collaboration, and create an environment that utilizes self-directed learning while the instructor is more of a facilitator.

For example, in teaching ethics to massage therapy students, I use a YouTube video as a discussion starter.  Instructions for the assignment include the requirement of using ethical terms in written posts such as transference, countertransference, beneficense, and others. Students are required to enter an initial post during the first week and then in the second week, it is required to respond to a minimum of 2 other students.  It is a great way to help students understand concepts beyond the definitions of terms and gives everyone an equal voice in the learning activity. Take a look at some raw data I collected to measure learning outcomes on this instructional method. 

Many institutions have online learning management systems (LMS) such as Blackboard, Canvas, or D2L which have discussion board tools built into them. If your school does not have an LMS, you can create your own discussion board space.  Some suggestions for creating online discussion groups through simple sites such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook, and others.  Click on the links to the left to access the referenced articles below. 

Walsh, K. (2014). 20 fun free tools for interactive classroom collaboration. Retrieved from


Fenton, W. (2018). The best LMS (Learning Management Systems) of 2018. PC Mag. Retrieved from,2817,2488347,00.asp


Case Studies

In massage therapy education, teaching students about the therapeutic relationship, treatment planning, and ethical or situational dilemmas are core competencies that must be mastered.  Clinical experience and simulation help students reach higher order thinking; however, in the beginning level courses, using the case study method allows for creating foundational knowledge that can be applied in later coursework.  I use the case study when teaching proper documentation, treatment planning, and communication skills.  In later more advanced courses, the case study method is used in furthering knowledge about massage therapy research and open discussion on business and practice ethics.


The value of the case study method is the decision-making mental model as outlined by Davis and Arend (2013) in 10 steps: (1) Determine values; (2) Determine outcomes; (3) Weigh the outcomes; (4) Generate options; (5) Identify attributes of options; (6) Match attributes to outcomes; (7) Make a choice; (8) Cast the choice as a probability and consider the consequences; (9) Predict the likelihood of outcomes; and (10) Align the steps.  This process helps to develop clinical reasoning skills that massage therapists need to care for their clients and patients safely and effectively to build a therapeutic practice. 

Davis, JR, & Arend, BD, (2013). Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning: A Resource for More Purposeful, Effective, and Enjoyable College Teaching. Stserling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC; 159 - 161.


Transformative & Experiential Activities

Transformative and experiential learning methods are where I feel I have made the greatest strides in teaching and professional development. Additionally, most of my outside reading and educational philosophies come from the likes of Jack Mezirow and John Dewey. I use transformative and experiential learning exercises when teaching body mechanics to massage therapy students and professionals to emphasize somatic/kinesthetic awareness for injury prevention.  My latest research study entitled "Improving Body Mechanics Using Experiential Learning and Ergonomic Tools in Massage Therapy Education" demonstrates how effective these methods can be. To the left is a diagram I created which depicts how I applied a combination of Kolb's experiential theory combined with Mezirow's transformative learning method in teaching effective body mechanics.  

Atkinson, G & Murrell, P, (1988). Kolb's experiential learning theory: A meta-model for career exploration. Journal of Counseling and Development, 66, 374 - 377.

Boucouvalas, M & Lawrence, RL. Adult learning. In: Kasworm C, Rose A, & Ross-Gordon J eds. Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.; 2010, 39 - 41. 



Simulations and role-playing help to prepare learners for real-world tasks and demonstrate application of concepts while in a safe, learning environment.  In the simulation experience, instructors can monitor and guide the scenarios and in essence, let the students work through them, allowing for learning from mistakes or disconnects in application of skills.  It is suggested that simulation experiences are utilized as a formative assessment tool so that the maximum amount of learning can occur.  Simulations are particularly effective for massage therapy students preparing to work in a medical setting to mimic their anticipated clinical rotational work in an outpatient oncology department and hospice care facility. Sims also provide opportunity for interprofessional collaboration of patient care so that the massage therapy students do not operate in a silo but rather as a contributor to the health and well-being of an individual patient. Students also learn about other allied health professionals within this framework so that they understand their roles and responsibilities.  

Kidd, L., Morgan, K., & Savery, J. (2012). Development of a mental health nursing simulation: Challenges and solutions. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 11 (2), 80 - 89.

Palmer, E., Edwards, T., & Racchini, J. (2014). High-fidelity simulation meets athletic training education: An innovative collaborative teaching project.  Athletic Training Education Journal, 9 (2), 96 - 100. doi: 10,4085/090296.

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