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Transforming Course Assessments with Backwards Design & Renewable Assignments


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A workshop at the American Association of Philosophy Teachers' conference, July 2016. The first half is about how using backwards design and different types of learning goals as enumerated by Dee Fink can help one one rethink assignments in philosophy courses. The second is about "renewable assignments" according to David Wiley and how they might work in philosophy courses. Ideally one could come up with a new learning goal from the first half and then come up with a renewable assignment to fit it, from the second half of the workshop.

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Transforming Course Assessments with Backwards Design & Renewable Assignments

  2. 2. Learning goals for this session • Say how backwards course design might transform assessments • Explain at least three types of learning goals and write one goal for upcoming course • Explain what “renewable assignments” are • Give one example of a renewable assignment you could consider using
  3. 3. Dee Fink Integrated Course Design
  4. 4. Integrated Course Design Learnin g Goals Activitie s Assess- ments Situational Factors Adapted from Fink’s Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning
  5. 5. Backwards Design Goals Assessment s Learning Activities Why? Wiggins & McTighe (2005), Fink (2013) - End of course - 2 or more yrs later
  6. 6. Types of learning goals Foundational Knowledge Application Integration Human Dimension Caring Learning How to Learn Adapted from Fink’s Self- Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning Others?
  7. 7. My new Goals for Intro Course Integration Human Dimension Caring Learning How to Learn Apply philosophical thinking to current events Recognize if rely on unexamined beliefs Care about whether have examined beliefs Take notes on main arguments in readings Explain how philosophical activity is everywhere Engage in respectful philosophical dialogue Explain the value of learning with/from peers Explain how to get help, what resources available
  8. 8. Your learning goals Write here to share: Create a learning goal for one of your courses (ideally something you hadn’t considered before). Foundational Knowledge • What key information/ideas should students learn? Human Dimension • What could students learn about selves, others, interacting w/others? Application • What kinds of thinking need to develop: critical, creative, practical? • What skills should students develop? Caring • What changes would you like to see in students’ feelings, interests or values? Integration • What connections should make among ideas in course, between course & other courses or their lives? Learning How to Learn • How can students learn to be good learners in this course? How to become self-directed learners?
  9. 9. Get Students Involved in Goals! Have discussion or survey on what goals students have for the course • Possibly revise the ones you wrote • Or have them write goals for themselves & revisit during the course:
  10. 10. David Wiley Renewable Assignments
  11. 11. “Disposable Assignments” “… assignments that add no value to the world – after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away.” -- David Wiley, “What is Open Pedagogy?”
  12. 12. “Renewable Assignments” “… the student’s work … add[s] value to the world in some way …. others will be able to benefit from their work for years to come.” “… people want to contribute something, to give something back, to pay it forward, to make the world a better place, to make a difference.” -- David Wiley, “Toward Renewable Assessments” Icon by from, licensed CC BY 3.0
  13. 13. Examples of Renewable Assigns. • Wikipedia articles • Videos, podcasts, slide decks, etc. shared publicly • Original research shared publicly • Student-created open textbooks or other books o An Open Education Reader o The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature Google doc with other examples Image from An Open Education Reader, licensed CC BY 4.0
  14. 14. Using open license Renewable Creative Commons licenses Allow works to be reused & revised,* without having to ask creator for permission *All licenses except “No Derivatives” allow revisions to the work Image from Copyright in Education & Internet in South African Law used under CC-BY 2.5 South Africa license
  15. 15. Your Ideas for Renewable Assigns. In pairs or groups, brainstorm ideas for renewable assignments in Philosophy courses. • Could think of one that fits with one or more of the learning goals you created earlier Post here to share:
  16. 16. My Ideas for Renewable Assigns. • “Philosophy in the World” assignment • Opinion piece on current moral issue on Medium or The Winnower • Publish student journal of model essays • Students create exam questions; writing advice; videos, slides, etc. to teach concepts to others—shared publicly or w/future students
  17. 17. Get students involved (again)! • Brainstorm possible renewable assignments with students • Choose some you think will work well • Let students choose one among them Group icon made by Freepik from, licensed CC BY 3.0
  18. 18. Works Cited • Fink, L.D. (2005). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning (PDF). Retrieved from esignAug05.pdf • Fink, L.D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. • Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ACSD. • Wiley, D. (2013). What is open pedagogy? (Blog post). Retrieved from • Wiley, D. (2016). Towards renewable assessments (Blog post). Retrieved from
  19. 19. Thank you! These slides are available here: Christina Hendricks Blog: Twitter: @clhendricksbc Slides licensed CC BY 4.0