Welcome to the fifty-fourth issue of The LTO Best Practices. Each month, the Learning & Teaching Office will be spotlighting a timely topic in education. This March, our topic is "Course Redesign."
Check out our page of Teaching Tips handouts for more downloadable documents on a variety of teaching topics.
For more information on course redesign, and for the citations for the research cited in this newsletter, download our Teaching Tips document on Course Redesign [pdf].
There can be many reasons to undergo a program of course redesign, and the process can take on many forms, from work being done by an individual instructor, to a systematic process being undertaken by a team of instructional designers. Reasons for course redesign that have appeared in the literature include:
The process of course redesign takes the form of either “a series of stages or steps (forward or backward) or a cycle of revision” (Nomme & Birol, 2014). One basic example of a model for the course redesign process is the four-step cycle developed by Wiles & Bondi:
Another model for course redesign is integrated course design. This model follows a backward cycle, focusing on individual lessons and units of instruction, integrated course design considers the “multifaceted realities of the designer's situational context” (Allen & Tanner, 2007). It also emphasizes “forward-looking assessment”—focusing on “the types of evidence-gathering strategies that incorporate knowledge and skills that people use outside of school” (Allen & Tanner, 2007).
This model, developed by L. Dee Fink, has three phases: building strong primary components, assembling the components into a coherent whole, and completing the final remaining tasks.
Key to any course redesign process is the selection of an appropriate framework with which to measure student understanding. This framework will be used to align learning outcomes for the course with the most appropriate instructional strategies and the most effective assessment methods. One popular framework for measuring student understanding is Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.
Fink’s integrated course design model uses his own “Taxonomy of Significant Learning,” in which, unlike the hierarchy of Bloom's Taxonomy, the "elements of the taxonomy overlap, interacting and stimulating one another" (Allen & Tanner, 2007):
Taxonomy of significant learning (Fink, 2003)
Foundational knowledge—the facts, terms, formulas, concepts, principles, etc. that one understands and remembers
Application—using critical, creative, and practical (decision-making, problem-solving) skills
Integration—making connections among ideas, subjects, and people
Human dimensions—learning about and changing one's self; interacting with others
Caring—identifying and changing one's feelings, values, and interests
Learning how to learn—becoming a better, self-directed learner; learning to ask and answer questions
"The LTO Best Practices" is produced monthly by Michelle Schwartz, Research Associate at The Learning & Teaching Office of Ryerson University.
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