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Working with Faculty to Design Challenging and Effective Courses Barbara J. Tewksbury Department of Geology Hamilton College On the.

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Presentation on theme: "Working with Faculty to Design Challenging and Effective Courses Barbara J. Tewksbury Department of Geology Hamilton College On the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working with Faculty to Design Challenging and Effective Courses Barbara J. Tewksbury Department of Geology Hamilton College On the Cutting Edge

2 »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/participants” »Process also useful in curriculum design Aims of this session

3 »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 courses commonly 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 »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 An alternative, goals-based approach

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

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 »We can’t do a student’s 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). Step 2: Setting student- focused overarching goals

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 »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 ____ Setting student-focused, overarching goals

21 »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 »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 Common denominator – what professionals do in the field

26 »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 »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 Common denominator – what professionals do in the field

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 »What kind of student-focused goals could you set for your course? Vs

30 Goals involving lower order thinking skills »Knowledge, comprehension, application explaindescribeparaphraselistidentifyrecognize 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 »While some of these goals involve a deeper level of knowledge and understanding than others, the goals involve largely reiteration. Examples of goals involving lower order thinking skills

34 Goals involving higher order thinking skills »Analysis, synthesis, evaluation, some types of application predictinterpretevaluatederivedesignformulate analyzesynthesizecreate

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 don’t measure up, how would you improve them?

42 Why are overarching goals 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 overarching goals 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: Setting ancillary 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 of ancillary 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 a geo 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: 14 C 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 doesn’t 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 »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, don’t do it. Classroom strategies 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. »Don’t 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/NAGTWorksh ops/coursedesign/tutorial/index.htmlhttp://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorksh ops/coursedesign/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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