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Teaching Materials Format

Write for the Web: a quick scan should tell a compelling story

Teaching materials should be written to allow for easy scanning by your fellow educators who are trying to decide if they should spend more time in your module or flit back to Google and continue their search. Identify the elements of your module that will be most compelling for your fellow educators: a novel twist on presenting a complex topic, a particularly effective pedagogy, the rooting out of a common misconception. These elements should be explicitly called out in the module description, overview and goals/assessment sections. Writing effectively for the web requires different approaches than other formats you may be familiar with. Check out our guide to writing for the web for more guidance.

InTeGrate Module Template

Front Page

Summary:The section summarizes, in 2-5 sentences, the concrete information the reader needs to decide if the module will meet their teaching needs. This should include the topical/content focus, the purpose of instruction/learning goals, the length of instruction, pedagogic approaches and key student activities. It should be evocative and compelling rather than complete.

Strengths of the Module: This section describes the particular strengths of the module to make a compelling case for why an instructor might want to use these materials. It may call out the use of innovative pedagogies, the strong alignment between goals, activities and assessment and highlight key activities.

It must explicitly speak to how the module addresses each of the 5 central InTeGrate goals:

  • Use geoscience-related grand challenges facing society
  • Develop students' ability to address interdisciplinary problems
  • Improve student understanding of the nature and methods of geoscience and developing geoscientific habits of mind
  • Make use of authentic and credible geoscience data
  • Incorporate systems thinking
If the module doesn't address one of the InTeGrate goals state that explicitly (this will be removed and this section recast before the material is published).

Context: This section describes the various ways this module might fit into a curriculum with an emphasis on the breadth of courses to which it could be adapted. It should include what level(s) of students the material is appropriate for and what background the students need. It should explicitly indicate the material is at the undergraduate level. It will also include a link to the case study section of the overview page.

Goals: This section is an unordered list of the 4-6 main goals for the module. Objectives should be embedded in the units (rather than here) and will be linked within the Unit descriptions. The grand challenges and literacies addressed by the modules will be captured with controlled vocabularies and displayed automatically in a sidebar.

The goals should describe what students will be able to do at the end of the instruction for the module. Goals should be appropriate for the duration of the module. The summative assessments should demonstrate achievement of these goals. In aggregate, the goals should make explicit the alignment between the module and the overarching InTeGrate goals as well as reflect the focus of the intended module.

Module Overview

This page starts with an introductory section which gives a sense of the general flow of activities. It should include information pedagogic choices made in constructing the module. It should address, in broad terms, timing and sequencing of the material with a focus on how the overall structure could be adjusted for different circumstances (online course, lecture/lab versus lecture). It should highlight any significant elements that the instructor will have to coordinate (e.g. field trip, access to computer lab) that may impact how the materials are adapted. It should identify the common student misconceptions associated with the material and how they are addressed.

Outline: This section provides links to each unit along with a one to two sentence description of the unit. Each of the subsequent pages are 'Unit' pages and should be labeled as below (e.g. Unit 3: Mining and Mining Impacts).

If a unit contains multiple activities that could reasonably stand-alone/be adapted independently they should be broken off into separate 'Activity' pages and should be labeled like this: Activity 3.2: Dissecting a Moose
In this example the numbering indicates this is the second Activity associated with the 3rd Unit.

Adapting the Module to Different Courses: This section introduces the case studies as examples of how the module could be adapted to different course structures. A one sentence overview of the case study course context is followed by a description of key modification made to the module in adapting it to each case study course.


Each Unit is described through the standard 'ActivitySheet' format described below. If a Unit has several elements that could each be a stand-alone activity, then each one could be described on a separate page with a separate ActivitySheet. Units with extensive teaching materials may benefit from some of the material being pulled off into a separate page. Consult with your team leader or webteam liason if you think this might be useful for a particular Unit.

Summary: This section provides a compelling description of the activity. It should make it clear what the activity is without assuming the reader is familiar with the surrounding module. It should provide an overview of the things that students will do and the intended outcomes. The description should be concise and compelling: typically no more than 2-3 sentences.

Learning Goals: This section describes what the learner should know and be able to do at the end of the instruction for this unit. It will include the essential concepts,content, skills, abilities, and attitudes that students should learn from the Unit. This includes higher-order thinking skills (e.g. critical thinking, data analysis, synthesis of ideas, model development) as well as other skills (writing, oral presentation, field techniques, equipment operation, etc.). The measurable learning objectives should describe the intended results of the teaching activities. Strong learning objectives describe the conditions under which the learning behavior is to be performed. It should use action verbs, state criteria, and include the product, process, or outcome that is desired. This section should explicitly indicate how the Unit goals relate to the course/module goals and to the 5 InTeGrate goals.

Context for Use: The connection of this unit to the rest of the module will be indicated via automatically generated links. Thus, this section should focus on the breadth of ways this unit/activity might fit into a variety of courses by helping faculty understand the types of teaching situations for which this activity is appropriate. Important types of context include educational level, class size, institution type, etc. Is it a lab, lecture, field exercise, or a longer project? How much time is needed for the activity? Is there special equipment that is necessary? Are there skills or concepts that students should have already mastered before encountering this activity? How easy (or hard) would it be to adapt the activity for use in other settings?

Description and Teaching Material: This section should include a narrative describing the mechanics and flow of the activity and all the materials needed to implement the activity (or links and references to those materials). The narrative should suggest a specific sequence and flow, highlighting what work takes place in class versus out of class with likely time requirements for each. It should also suggest how the timing and structure can be adapted for different situations.

For all linked/downloadable materials, include a brief description of each item covering what it is and what its role is in the activity. Materials may need to be provided in multiple formats to support use in different teaching scenarios.

Longer units/activities may either be split into several sub activities (if they could logically be reused/adapted independently) and/or have longer sections moved off into sub pages. Consult with your web liaison or team leader on how best to divide your long units.

Teaching Notes and Tips: This section gives additional insight into how to use the Unit effectively. It highlights areas where students may struggle and gives advice on how best to guide student's learning. Areas where student misconceptions may come into play should be highlighted. This section should specifically discuss how the materials can be used to best effect to reach InTeGrate's overarching goals.

It should not be a description of the activity itself. That information should be in the teaching materials section.

Assessment: This section should describe how instructors can determine whether or not students (either individually or collectively) are achieving the learning goals for the unit and the learning objectives outlined for the activity. Assessments may be formative and help the instructor monitor student learning while the learning is occurring or summative and evaluate against a benchmark after learning has occurred. Assessments should be criterion referenced, sequenced, address goals at successively higher cognitive levels, and be consistent with the expectations for the course activities. Criterion referenced means the assessments have clear methods of evaluation. The instructor can tell to what extent a given student is succeeding on a learning objective independently, not just how well their performance compares to other students. Since this page will be public consider whether specific questions/example responses/rubrics need to be kept private to retain their value to instructors. Identify these clearly so that they can be made private before the module as a whole becomes public.

References and Resources: This section should include references and links to supplementary resources that relate to the specific activity or will support faculty and/or students using the activity. Web resources should include both the url and a brief description of the site (and why it is relevant). Print resource should include basic citation information as well as a brief description of the resource.

Materials that are integral to the activity (e.g. student readings, datasets) should be included in the teaching materials section.

Assessment of Goals and Objectives

This page addresses assessing overall student learning in the module and the summative assessments used to measure this learning.

Assessments allow you to monitor student learning and evaluate this learning against the goals for your module. This section should start with a paragraph or two about what summative learning assessments are used with this module. Connections should be drawn between these assessments and the module learning goals as well as the overarching InTeGrate goals. Just as the goals should be appropriate for the duration of the module, the summative assessments should be sufficient to demonstrate achievement of these learning goals for this same duration. The assessment instruments and corresponding answers/rubrics should be provided. Since this page will be public, consider whether specific questions/example responses/rubrics need to be kept private to retain their value to instructors. Identify these clearly so that they can be made private before the module becomes public. Instructors will provide student data to the project for these summative assessments.

Within the module, assessments may be formative and help the instructor monitor student learning or summative and evaluate against a benchmark. All assessments should be criterion referenced, sequenced, address goals at successively higher cognitive levels, and be consistent with the expectations for the module activities. Criterion referenced means that the assessments have clear methods of evaluation. The instructor can tell to what extent a given student is succeeding on a learning objective independently, not just how well their performance compares to other students.

Individual Case Studies

Summary: The summary should start with one line that captures the context in which the module was used. This should be followed by 2-5 sentences that highlight what was particularly interesting about this particular implementation. This could include the setting, schedule, student group, an exceptional success or unusual adaptation of materials

From the Instructor: Strengths of the Module: This section includes a 2-4 minute video interview with the course instructor. They speak to the ways in which the module contributed to their course, their students' successes and power of the module to promote the sorts of learning that is embodied in the InTeGrate goals. A bulleted list that summarize the strengths of the module, as mentioned in the video, are provided.

Course Information: This section captures the course size, format and institution type followed by a show/hide box with the course syllabus (pdf preferred), a brief summary of the course content, especially as it relates to the module, and a list of course level goals.

How was the Module Modified for this Course: This section describes how the module was adapted to fit the needs of the particular course. Topics to cover include:

  • How the Units were fit into the class schedule
  • Modifications to the Units and activities.
  • How student learning was assessed and the role of the assessment tools provided in the module.

Tips and Lessons Learned: This section should contain advice for faculty who want to adapt this module to their own course. Focus on particular lessons learned from the implementation within this course. What challenges and opportunities does the the module present for classes that are similar in: topic, size, student make-up, institution type, etc... Generic tips that apply broadly should be integrated into the Unit descriptions themselves rather than put here.

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