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Working with Faculty to Design Challenging and Effective Courses

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On the Cutting Edge http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops Working with Faculty to Design Challenging and Effective Courses Barbara J. Tewksbury – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Working with Faculty to Design Challenging and Effective Courses


1
Working with Faculty to Design Challenging and
Effective Courses
On the Cutting Edge
http//serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops
  • Barbara J. Tewksbury
  • Department of Geology
  • Hamilton College
  • btewksbu_at_hamilton.edu

2
Aims of this session
  • Offer a method for designing courses and
    professional development workshops applicable
    K-16
  • Address needs of both faculty and developers
  • For simplicity, will use course and students,
    rather than course/PDW and students/participant
    s
  • Process also useful in curriculum design

3
Aims of this session
  • Focus on developing challenging courses
    professional development workshops that
  • get students to think for themselves in the
    context of the discipline
  • stress inquiry and de-emphasize traditional
    direct instruction
  • emphasize relevance, transferability, and future
    use
  • require higher order thinking where students are
    doing the work (Weiss Challenging courses are
    those that lead students into situations where
    the only way out is through thinking)

4
Your focus for this session
  • Choose either
  • An undergraduate science or math course for
    pre-service teachers.
  • A professional development workshop/program for
    in-service teachers in science or math.

5
How are coursescommonly designed?
  • Make list of content items important to coverage
    of the field
  • Develop syllabus by organizing items into topical
    outline
  • Flesh out topical items in lectures, recitations,
    discussions, labs
  • Test knowledge learned in course
  • Analogs for professional development workshops

6
An alternative,goals-based approach
  • Focuses on what your students need
  • Articulates course goals beyond content coverage
    in the relevant discipline(s) focuses on what
    they should be able to do in the future
  • Emphasizes getting students to think for
    themselves
  • Promotes selection of strategies to achieve goals
    beyond content coverage
  • Builds in authentic assessment

7
Does it work?
  • 9 years of workshops for geoscience faculty on
    Designing Effective and Innovative Courses in the
    Geosciences
  • Now part of NSF-funded On the Cutting Edge
    program (http//serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops)
  • An effective design template
  • Applicable to curricula and programs as well as
    courses
  • !!Not the only way to design a course!!

8
Does it work?
  • Goals-setting is hard but worth the effort
  • Once the goals are set, the course and the
    assessment falls together
  • Our workshop participants ideas about course
    design are completely transformed.
  • Participants report applying the same design
    principles to other courses and to department
    curricula.

9
An aside on terminology
  • Design model is goals-focused
  • Terminology goals vs. objectives vs. outcomes
    vs. learning goals vs. learning objectives vs.
    learning outcomes
  • Geology faculty at our workshops largely not
    fluent in edu-speak
  • Some have encountered terms defined differently
    in different venues
  • Our workshop participants wasted time and energy
    coping with the distinctions

10
An aside on terminology
  • The problem with the word learning
  • The brown bread example

brown bread
brown bread
brown bread
11
An aside on terminology
  • The problem with the word learning
  • I am in the middle of learning research
    techniques in geomicrobiology.
  • I am finding out more about learning research in
    the geosciences.
  • Ditto learning objectives and learning outcomes

12
An aside on terminology
  • For our workshops
  • Collapsed goals, objectives and outcomes into one
    standard English term goals.
  • Defined goals as concrete and measurable (My
    goal in life is to make a million My goal
    next year is to make the Olympic sock wrestling
    team.)
  • Avoided using learning as an adjective.

13
Overview
  • Articulating context and audience
  • Setting goals
  • Setting overarching goals
  • Setting ancillary skills goals
  • Choosing content to achieve the goals
  • Developing a course plan with assignments,
    activities and assessments to enable students to
    achieve the goals
  • Tutorial of entire process available at Cutting
    Edge site  URL on handout

14
Overview
  • Remember this is not meant as the be all or end
    all just one way to go about it!

15
Step I Context and audience
  • Our course design process begins with answering
    the following
  • Who are my students?
  • What do they need?
  • What do they bring?
  • What are the constraints and support structure?

16
Step 2 Setting student-focused, overarching goals
  • Teaching is commonly viewed as being
    teacher-centered.
  • Reinforced by the teaching evaluation process
  • Commonly reinforced by how we phrase course
    goals I want to expose my students to. or I
    want to teach my students about or I want to
    show students that

17
Step 2 Setting student-focused overarching goals
  • It dawned on me about two weeks into the first
    year that it was not teaching that was taking
    place in the classroom, but learning.

Pop star Sting, reflecting upon his early career
as a teacher
18
Step 2 Setting student-focused overarching goals
  • We cant do a students learning for him/her
  • Exposure does not guarantee learning
  • Students learn when they are actively engaged in
    practice, application, and problem-solving (NRC
    How People Learn How Students Learn).

19
Setting student-focused, overarching goals
  • Need to set course goals for the students, not
    the teacher
  • Need to ask what we want students to be able to
    do as a result of having completed the course,
    not than what the instructor will expose them to.

20
Setting student-focused, overarching goals
  • Why focus on doing?
  • Which would we rather have?
  • I want my students to have a strong background in
    ____
  • OR
  • I want my students to use their strong background
    in order to do ____

21
Setting student-focused, overarching goals
  • Example from an art history course
  • Survey of art from a particular period
  • Vs.
  • Enabling students to go to an art museum and
    evaluate technique of an unfamiliar work or
    evaluate an unfamiliar work in its historical
    context or evaluate a work in the context of a
    particular artistic genre/school/style

22
Setting student-focused, overarching goals
  • Example from a math course
  • Practice in particular techniques (stats, calc,
    diff eq)
  • Vs.
  • Enabling students to evaluate statistical claims
    in the popular press/advertising or analyze
    applications of calculus in unfamiliar situations
    or solve unfamiliar real-world problems in
    science/engineering

23
Setting student-focused, overarching goals
  • Example from an education course
  • Survey of results of research on learning
  • Vs.
  • Enabling students to design classroom activities
    for students that are consistent with education
    theory and the science of learning.

24
Common denominator what professionals do in the
field
  • What sorts of things does someone do simply
    because he/she is a professional in the
    discipline??
  • I use the geologic record to reconstruct the past
    and to predict the future.
  • I look at houses on floodplains, and wonder how
    people could be so stupid
  • I hear the latest news from Mars and say, well
    that must mean that.

25
Common denominator what professionals do in the
field
  • Physicist predict outcomes based on calculations
    from physics principles
  • Historian interpret historical account in light
    of the source of information
  • Art historian assess works of art

26
Common denominator what professionals do in the
field
  • Your course should enable your students, at
    appropriate level, to do what professionals do in
    the discipline, not just expose them to what
    professionals know.

27
Common denominator what professionals do in the
field
  • Difficult task for teachers K-middle school, and
    for some 9-12 teachers who have little experience
    in what professionals in the field do
  • Pre-service courses and in-service workshops may
    be the only opportunities to provide that
    experience for K-12 teachers

28
Task What do professionals do in the discipline?
  • Answer the following
  • In context of your general course/workshop topic,
    what do professionals do? What does analyze,
    evaluate, etc. involve?
  • Alternatively, what is unique about the world
    view/the questions of the discipline??

29
Setting Overarching Goals for Your Course
Vs
  • What kind of student-focused goals could you set
    for your course?

30
Goals involving lowerorder thinking skills
  • Knowledge, comprehension, application

explain describe paraphrase
list identify recognize
calculate know about prepare
31
Examples of goals involving lower order thinking
skills
  • At the end of this course, I want students to be
    able to
  • List the major contributing factors in the spread
    of disease
  • Identify common rocks and minerals
  • Recognize examples of erosional depositional
    glacial landforms on a topographic map
  • Cite examples of poor land use practice.
  • Discuss the major ways that AIDS is transmitted.
  • Calculate standard deviation for a set of data

32
Examples of goals involving lower order thinking
skills
  • At the end of this course, I want students to be
    able to
  • Know about the role of mutations in the
    development of new disease strains
  • Compare and contrast the features and functions
    of RNA and DNA.
  • Describe how the Doppler shift provides
    information about moving objects, and give an
    illustrative example.
  • Explain how stem cells form and what applications
    might be developed.

33
Examples of goals involving lower order thinking
skills
  • While some of these goals involve a deeper level
    of knowledge and understanding than others, the
    goals involve largely reiteration.

34
Goals involving higherorder thinking skills
  • Analysis, synthesis, evaluation, some types of
    application

predict interpret evaluate
derive design formulate
analyze synthesize create
35
Examples of goals involving higher order thinking
skills
  • At the end of this course, I want students to be
    able to
  • Develop and test age-appropriate lesson plans.
  • Analyze an unfamiliar epidemic (which is
    different form recalling those covered in class)
  • Evaluate the historical context of an unfamiliar
    event.
  • Use data from recent Mars missions to re-evaluate
    pre-2004 hypotheses about Mars geologic processes
    and history/evolution
  • Frame a hypothesis and formulate a research plan.

36
Examples of goals involving higher order thinking
skills
  • At the end of this course, I want students to be
    able to
  • Make an informed decision about a controversial
    topic, other than those covered in class,
    involving hydrogeologic issues.
  • Collect and analyze data in order to ___
  • Design models of ___
  • Solve unfamiliar problems in ____
  • Find and evaluate information/data on ____
  • Predict the outcome of ____

37
Higher order thinking skills goals
  • What makes these goals different from the
    previous set is that they involve more than
    reiteration.
  • Focus is on getting students to think for
    themselves, problem-solving in new and different
    situations.
  • Emphasis is on transitive nature of skills,
    abilities, knowledge, and understanding.

38
Higher or lower order thinking skills goals?
  • Overarching goals involving lower order thinking
    skills are imbedded in ones involving higher
    order thinking skills
  • being able to interpret tectonic settings based
    on information on physiography, seismicity, and
    volcanic activity has imbedded in it many goals
    involving lower order thinking skills

39
Goals with measurable outcomes or not?
  • Compare
  • I want students to be able to interpret
    unfamiliar tectonic settings based on information
    on physiography, volcanic activity, and
    seismicity.
  • Vs.
  • I want students to understand plate tectonics.
  • Clearer path to designing a course when
    overarching goals are stated as specific,
    observable actions that students should be able
    to perform if they have mastered the content and
    skills of a course.

40
Abstract or concrete goals?
  • Consider the following goals
  • I want students to appreciate the complexity of
    Earth systems.
  • I want students to think like scientists.
  • I want my students to see that HIV-AIDS is a
    complex social, cultural, medical, and political
    issue.
  • Abstract goals are laudable but difficult to
    assess directly and difficult translate into
    practical course design

41
Which meet the criteria?
  • Determine if each goal
  • Is student-centered
  • Is focused on higher-order thinking skills
  • Has measurable outcomes
  • Is concrete, rather than vague and abstract
  • For goals that dont measure up, how would you
    improve them?

42
Why are overarchinggoals important??
  • If you want students to be good at something,
    they must practice (reiteration?
    problem-solving?).
  • Goals drive both the course plan and assessment
  • Goals are the underpinnings of your course and
    serve as the basis for developing activities to
    meet those goals.

43
Task write overarchinggoals for your course or
PDW
  • 1-3 overarching goals is ideal.
  • No right set.
  • Student-focused, higher order thinking skills,
    measurable outcomes, not abstract
  • On a piece of paper
  • Your name and affiliation
  • Course/PDW title, level, and of
    students/participants
  • Any other important descriptive or contextual
    info
  • First draft of overarching goals

44
Task pass and comment
  • Sit with other course or PDW developers
  • Circulate goals sheets to right
  • Evaluate, make written comments, suggestions on
    the paper, no conversation
  • Pass to right, and repeat
  • Read comments, revise own
  • Decide as group which one or two sets of goals to
    report

45
Step 3 Settingancillary skills goals
  • Ancillary skills
  • Accessing and reading the professional literature
  • Working in teams
  • Writing and quantitative skills
  • Critically assessing WWW information
  • Self-teaching, peer teaching, oral presentation

46
Limit the number ofancillary skills goals
  • To improve skills, students need repeated
    practice and timely feedback
  • Hard to provide adequate practice and feedback
    unless goals are limited.

47
Step 4 Achieving goals thru selecting content
topics
  • What general content topics could you use to
    achieve the overarching goals of your course?

48
Example from ageo hazards course
  • Overarching goal students will be able to
    research and evaluate news reports of a natural
    disaster and communicate their analyses to
    someone else

49
Be able to research and evaluate news reports of
a natural disaster and communicate analyses to
someone else
  • Instructor 1 chose four types of disasters as
    content topics
  • Volcanic hazards
  • Flooding hazards
  • Earthquake hazards
  • Landslide hazards

50
Be able to research and evaluate news reports of
a natural disaster and communicate analyses to
someone else
  • Instructor 2 chose four specific disasters as
    content topics
  • 1973 Susquehanna flood
  • Landsliding in coastal California
  • Mt. St. Helens
  • Armenia earthquake

51
Be able to research and evaluate news reports of
a natural disaster and communicate analyses to
someone else
  • Instructor 3 chose four themes as content topics
  • Impact of hurricanes on building codes and
    insurance
  • Perception and reality of fire damage on the
    environment
  • Mitigating the effects of volcanic eruptions
  • Geologic and sociologic realities of earthquake
    prediction

52
Be able to research and evaluate news reports of
a natural disaster and communicate analyses to
someone else
  • Instructor 4 chose to focus on a historical
    survey of natural disasters in Vermont
  • Historical record of flooding in NW Vermont
  • 1983 landsliding
  • 2-3 other places in Vermont that have had natural
    disasters of different types.

53
Goals and content topics unite to provide course
framework
  • Previous example
  • Single goal
  • Different content topics mean that each course
    will be different.
  • Choice of content topics drives how the
    instructor will accomplish the goal.
  • Students will receive different kinds of practice
    during the course even though the overall goal is
    the same

54
Goals and content topics unite to provide course
framework
  • How about a different goal for the same hazards
    course?
  • Students will be able to evaluate and predict the
    influence of climate, hydrology, biology, and
    geology on the severity of a natural disaster.
  • Could use the same content topics.
  • How would the courses be different? Activities
    developed to accomplish the goals and practice
    students receive!!

55
Intersection of context,goals, and content
  • Research evaluate news report or evaluate and
    predict influence of climate, hydro, geo, bio on
    the severity of a natural hazard?
  • Which goal makes most sense for who your students
    are and what they need?
  • Which content topics make the most sense for your
    students, your setting, your experience, your
    students futures?

56
Fleshing out content topics
  • Higher order thinking skills goals have imbedded
    in them lower order thinking skills goals
  • Broad content topics have imbedded in them many
    concepts and content items that would be covered
    in a standard survey course

57
Fleshing out content topics
  • Geology and Development of Modern Africa
  • Not a Geology of Africa course
  • Overarching goal students will be able to
    analyze the underlying influence of geology on
    human events
  • Context is Africa, although goal is more general

58
Fleshing out content topics
  • Content topic 1 influence of climate change on
    prehistoric settlement patterns in North Africa
  • Imbedded content items
  • Geologic content knowledge 14C dating, fossils,
    lacustrine sedimentation, stratigraphic columns,
    using sedimentary rocks to interpret
    paleoenvironments, geologic time scale,.

59
Fleshing out content topics
  • Content topic 2 influence of development of
    East African Rift on hominid evolution
  • Imbedded content items
  • Geologic content knowledge formation and
    evolution of continental rifts, radiometirc
    dating, rift volcanisms, stratigraphic columns,
    fossils, using sedimentary rocks to interpret
    paleoenvironments, geologic time scale, fluvial
    and alluvial processes, faulting, geologic
    history of East Africa, evolution

60
Selecting content coverage
  • A course that is not a survey course can be
    content-rich
  • Courses with depth rather than breadth are viable
    alternative
  • Topic coverage doesnt have to be linear

61
Selecting content coverage
  • Can meet content expectations for subsequent
    courses if topics selected carefully
  • Combination of clearly-stated goals and specific
    content topics provides clear pathway to
    designing practice for students in tasks related
    to the goal

62
Other examples of choosing broad content topics
  • Goal Students will be able to help future
    elementary school students ID rx and help them
    with interpretations
  • Broad content topics 3 locations with different
    bedrock geology around which to build different
    rock interpretation activities

63
Other examples of choosing broad content topics
  • Goal Students will be able to use data from
    recent Mars missions to re-evaluate pre-2004
    hypotheses about Mars geologic processes
    evolution
  • Broad content topics 1) origin of drainage
    networks, 2) extent of intermediate to silicic
    rocks, 3) origin of layered rocks

64
Task Choosing content topics to achieve
overarching goals
  • For each overarching goal, list possible broad
    content topics that you could use to achieve that
    goal.
  • For each content topic, begin a list of imbedded
    content items that students must master to
    achieve the goal using that topic.

65
Course plan of assignments/activities
  • For each overarching goal, how will you lead
    students to the point where they can do ____ on
    their own?
  • Alternative phrasing how will you give students
    practice in doing ____?

66
Classroom strategies
  • As you enter a classroom, ask yourself this
    question If there were no students in the
    classroom, could I do what I am planning to do?
    If the answer to the question is yes, dont do it.

General Ruben Cubero, Dean of the Faculty, United
States Air Force Academy (Novak et al., 1999,
Just-in-Time Teaching)
67
Importance of having a teaching toolbox
  • If all you have is a hammer, everything looks
    like a nail.
  • Same goes for teaching. If the only tool in your
    teaching toolbox is lecturing, then.

68
Importance of having a teaching toolbox
  • Model good practice by incorporating successful
    assignment/activity strategies that actively
    engage students
  • think-pair-share, jigsaw, discussion,
    simulations, role-playing, concept mapping,
    concept sketches, debates, long-term projects,
    research-like experiences.
  • assignments involving writing, poster, oral
    presentation, service learning.
  • Make deliberate choices of the best strategy for
    the task.

69
Assessment
  • Align assessments with the goals.
  • Dont assess what is easily measured assess
    what you value. (Jay Labov, SENCER 2004)
  • If students are graded largely on their abilities
    to recall, define, recognize, and follow
    cook-book steps, you have not evaluated their
    progress toward goals involving higher order
    thinking skills.

70
Assessment
  • Example Students will be able to evaluate and
    predict the influence of climate, hydrology,
    biology, and geology on the severity of a natural
    disaster.
  • Give students an unfamiliar example.
  • Can they do it??
  • Provides an opportunity to make good work visible
    (Terry Favero, yesterday).

71
Tutorial with resources
  • http//serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/coursedesig
    n/tutorial/index.html
  • Coming later this fall at the same site
  • Pages targeted at developers who would like to
    use the tutorial as a basis for professional
    development programs for faculty
  • Tips and hints for helping faculty work through
    the process

72
An alternative,goals-based approach
  • Brings same kind of introspection, intellectual
    rigor, systematic documentation, and evaluation
    to teaching that each of us brings to our
    research
  • Really shakes the tree and designs the course
    from the bottom up
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