Are you thinking about designing a new course, or redesigning a course already in action? Don’t go it alone – the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center is here to help.
Course design requires educators to make intentional, reflective choices about how an activity, course, or curriculum will lead to desired outcomes for student learning. A well-designed course will provide clear, explicit, and coherent paths for students to build on their current skills and understandings to achieve the targeted learning outcomes, preparing them for their STEM career.
We can support you with education, guidance, and resources to help you make the best choices as you design your curriculum. We encourage a backwards design process where you begin with your learning outcomes and then work backwards – thinking about how you and the students will know that the outcomes are achieved. Once learning outcomes are clarified, we can help you think about what types of activities will best support students in reaching the learning outcomes, what content students will need, and what routines will best support students as they work toward the goals. Some areas of focus include:
Learning Outcomes for Students: What do you want students to know and be able to do at the end of the course or sequence of courses? How will the course build on where students started and help them move through the rest of the curriculum? How does the course meet programmatic requirements? How does the course meet professional learning goals? How do you clearly articulate the learning goals to students without taking learning opportunities away?
Productive Assignments: What assignments will allow students to reach those goals and develop skills that are enduring? Will the assignment engage the students as active learners, allowing them to productively struggle with the content? Does the activity provide any differentiate for various learners? The emphasis here is on developing assignments that are both integral to the course experience and provide opportunities for students to articulate and demonstrate how they think about the given topics. The assignments should also consider the time required by faculty (setup, review, and feedback) and students.
Relevant Course Content: Once you have a clearer idea of the learning outcomes and assignments for the course, content choices become less about what you need to cover and more about what students need to achieve the intended learning outcomes. What course content will directly contribute to students' understanding and help them to reach the goals you have set for them? What might be the most efficient and productive (from a learning perspective) means to allow students to access the content?
Feedback and Assessment: How will you know that students have reached those goals? Will there be opportunities for students to assess and monitor their own progress along the course? How can you incorporate feedback opportunities within the course beyond the usual mid-term or final? We can assist in developing assessment strategies that align with your goals for student learning and yield information that will enhance your current offering of the course (formative assessment) and help you to identify ways that you might teach the course differently the next time.
Design consultations can also include conversations about the following: Syllabus, teaching large classes, incorporation of technology to support goals and assignments, organizing group work, large-scale student-driven projects, summative projects, and other topics that you would like to consider.