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Designing Your Course

Defining Learning Goals and Objectives 

Start by considering the goals you have for your students and what domains these goals might fall under, ranging from foundational knowledge about a discipline to developing students’ passion for a topic. Next, identify your course learning objectives. These describe what students should know, be able to do, or have a view of, that your students will be able to demonstrate at the end of the class. Try to be specific, as this will guide the activities and assessments you will assign to your students to test their comprehension. Course objectives will also guide the selection of appropriate classroom technology tools. 

Taxonomies of learning outcomes, such as Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives and Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning, can provide a structure to help you think through your course goals and objectives, which then provide the basis for everything else in the course, particularly the assessments. 

Determining How Learning Will Be Assessed

Once you have clear goals and objectives identified, you can begin to design an assessment plan. Think about measurable activities that students can complete or participate in to show mastery of learning throughout the semester. Assignments are also important in giving students ample practice and feedback to aid their learning. Exams and papers are the most common assessment techniques, but we can help you think beyond these methods and develop creative ideas for assessing students.

In any learning activity or assignment, it is a best practice to help students understand exactly how their work will be evaluated. Including a rubric or grading criteria with your assignment will demonstrate how they will be assessed. Criteria and rubrics can also help keep grading more uniform and fair across student work and should help ensure that submitted assignments are closer to meeting your expectations. 

Choosing Activities and Promoting Active Learning

Active learning takes students beyond passively reading, listening to lectures, or viewing media. Rather, active learning approaches inspire students to engage in their learning by taking notes, discussing concepts with the instructor and their peers, investigating topics, and making new discoveries with the knowledge and skills they've learned. We can help you identify learning activities that will engage students and help facilitate active learning.

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