Guiding Questions: Aligning Course Design with Teaching and Learning Goals


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Presentation given by Gail Matthews-DeNatale and Jason Gorman to a 2006 NERCOMP conference about effective use of learning management systems.

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  • For 3 rd point, add in which faculty deliberate the strengths/weaknesses of Vista as compared with another instructional technology: the wiki
  • pre-work that preceded production: the process of articulating pedagogical philosophy and learning goals learning sequence developed for Conscience and Consumption , a “learning community” comprised of two courses and an integrative seminar – students are enrolled in all three as a cohort An overlay that explains how philosophy/goals affected use (and selection) of technology in this instance A discussion of challenges and lessons learned
  • Explanation of what the project is – About this “learning community” Chemistry course paired with a Philosophy course, plus the integrative seminar. Content: For the chemistry, students investigate the science associated with “green” and non-green practices. For the philosophy, students investigate the complex ethical decisions associated with environmental practice (both on the individual level of life choice and in the broader context of politics and policy-making) Pedagogy: Chemistry professor advocates “inquiry-based learning.” Philosophy professor advocates a student- centered approach in which students grapple with issues and philosophical questions on their own before reading what philosophers have to say on a given topic.
  • This presentation is divided into four parts. Each section addresses one of our four guiding questions.
  • If haven’t mentioned already, note that LC = 2 courses, 1 integrative seminar, 1 cohort of students
  • 1. , perceive work as part of a larger effort (contributing to a professional record) which affects the way they document their work (so that it can be shared, replicated, tested, etc.) -- (whole greater than the sum of its parts) -- “learning community” is better than learning, community
  • Inadequate instructor involvement Low in content because student exploration and discovery takes up too much time Inquiry work is touchy-feely The “blind leading the blind” misconceptions are reinforced during student-led discussions Impossible to assess individual student achievement in a group exercise These are real possibilities when instructional design isn’t carefully planned and implemented – it’s not magic that just happens.
  • For example: Rubrics (provide transparency of expectations) Assignment sequence and timing (e.g., do you have them look in their closets first, then read an article or vice versa?) Discussion writing prompts Formative assessment Instructor comments Student reflection, revisions, self-assessment
  • Need to make it easy for students to find information for both courses and the seminar (one-stop shopping for the learning community) Organization of materials within Vista mirrors the learning community’s flow of inquiry (topic/question-based as opposed to module/session #) Organization helps students traverse a bridge between novice and expert understanding (cognitive apprenticeship and guided inquiry)
  • Go through each step and explain what’s happening, then, in the slides below, we can dig deeper into the 4 major questions posed above. We’re used to thinking in terms of discrete “activities” instead of learning experiences that unfold over time through a sequence of thoughtfully interconnected activities – each phase of the sequence is designed to deepen learning and/or produce new insights
  • Provides requisite organization Layers of questions provide a map of: the guiding questions of the course student progression from novice to expert understanding how issues within chemistry and ethics interrelate
  • At the conclusion of collaborative writing in the wiki, students in each group take turns editing and “pulling together” the group’s work
  • Each student is in a “group of 1” discussion (“Journal”) that only she and faculty can see Student description of their contribution Self-evaluation using rubric Evaluation of group and others within the group using rubric
  • Referring to the assignment rubric, the instructors provide feedback Discussion board used as student’s private space to self-assess, ask questions and receive guidance Students rewrite and resubmit one or more times Faculty do not give a grade until at least one round of edits has been completed Cite Wynne Harlen et al The Assessment Reform Group, 2002 meta study Testing, Motivation, and Learning Grades short circuit learning – hold off on giving them as long as you can!
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