Making the Most of your Intro Course

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8:30am-11:30am UMC 247


David McConnell, North Carolina State University
Intro courses are one of the most important courses in any program as they serve as the beginning and end of many students introduction to a discipline, topic or way of thinking. This session allows you to work with others to improve your intro course. With support, you will be able to capitalize on backward design (including student learning outcomes), InTeGrate intro modules and design rubric, Cutting Edge resources and rubrics, and materials from this week's afternoon sessions. Participants will leave with many of the components of a redesigned course, ready to incorporate into Fall classes.


The student experience in introductory STEM courses has been identified as a critical tipping point for student persistence. Compared to other STEM fields, the student experience in introductory geoscience courses is doubly important, not only for retaining existing majors, but also for attracting new students to the discipline. Research in various STEM disciplines over the last few decades has revealed a suite of empirically validated instructional practices that can contribute to improvements in student learning and a reduction in attrition. These teaching practices go by an array of names, including student-centered teaching, active learning or reformed instruction. We will outline a series of consistent steps for redesigning lessons to incorporate different degrees of reformed instruction suitable for your particular situational factors (e.g., class size, instructional experience, course content). We will also address strategies that facilitate independent student learning that occurs outside of the classroom.

The target audience for this workshop is any instructor seeking to design or redesign lessons for an introductory science course of any size. We have designed this workshop experience for instructors with little or no previous experience with reformed instruction. We will model the incorporation of reformed strategies in the workshop and anticipate that participants teaching similar courses will work collaboratively to develop shareable resources. We encourage all participants to bring course materials to redesign as part of the workshop.

As a result of participation in the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Create student learning objectives representing lower and higher order thinking tasks
  • Create formative assessment activities to effectively measure student learning
  • Generate appropriate teaching strategies or activities to match learning objectives and assessments
  • Analyze existing exemplary resources as models for lesson development
  • Redesign sample lessons to increase course structure necessary to promote student learning
  • Apply a consistent lesson design rubric to guide resource development.

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