Teach the Earth > Course Design > Course Design Tutorial > Faculty professional development > Workshop challenges

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The major challenges in helping faculty design effective courses and how we address these issues

Participant working at course design workshop
Faculty typically are put off by workshops full of education jargon. Both faculty and students commonly view teaching as being teacher-centered (e.g., faculty commonly state course goals as "I want to show my students that...", or "I want to expose my students to...").
  • We ask workshop participants to develop student-focused goals phrased as, "At the end of this course, students will be able to ..." (see relevant section in tutorial).
Faculty commonly focus on content coverage, assuming that the amount presented equals the amount learned and that content knowledge confers problem-solving ability.
  • We ask workshop participants to focus on what tasks students will be able to do that involve higher order thinking skills, rather than simply on what content students will know at the end of the course (see relevant section in tutorial).
Faculty commonly have laudable by vague goals beyond content mastery (e.g., "I want my students to appreciate the complexity of the global economy" or "I want my students to see that we can't keep exploiting resources forever" or "I want my students to think like scientists".).
  • We ask participants to set goals for students that are concrete and that can be assessed directly by tasks that can be given to students (see relevant section in tutorial).
Students and faculty alike commonly fail to think past the end of the semester.
  • Our workshop emphasizes relevance and analysis of what students in a particular course need and how content and goals can best prepare students for future tasks after the course is over (see relevant section in tutorial).
Faculty commonly have small "teaching toolboxes" and have limited experience with classroom strategies other than standard lecture.
  • Our workshop provides opportunities for participants to learn about a variety of classroom and assignment strategies and to develop their own activities using those strategies (see relevant section in tutorial).
Assessment is commonly viewed as an evil necessity that faculty tack on at the end.
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©2005 On-line Course Design Workshop and Tutorial developed by Dr. Barbara J. Tewksbury (Hamilton College) and Dr. R. Heather Macdonald (College of William and Mary) as part of the program On the Cutting Edge, funded by NSF grant DUE-0127310.

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