Recently, I reached out to some of our Exemplary Course Award winners to ask for a few tips to share about each of the four Rubric areas. Their feedback is listed below.
I'd love to hear from more of you too, so please feel free to start adding to this discussion so we can learn from each other! We still need some tips under the "Interaction and Collaboration" section.
- Our goal was to make deliberate choices throughout the course to blend and utilize data-driven tactics to increase and improve student achievement.
- Since this course was designed as a Master Course that can be taught by any instructor with just minor adjustments, we focused on ensuring that information delivery is efficient and effective.
- We selected an OER textbook from Open Stax that was licensed for sharing and adaptation allowing for flexibility when delivering content to only include relevant information with the added benefit of being cost-free to students.
- This developmental math course was one with a heightened online student failure rate. Therefore, we also implemented a fairly specific module design based on the “chunking” technique. Each module follows this model: Introduction, Learning Activity A, Practice Exercises A, Learning Activity B, Practice Exercise B, (Activity/Exercise C where necessary), Problem Set over entire module, Quiz.
- We broadly applied Robert Marzano’s 9 strategies to increase student understanding in every module where appropriate. Not that all well-designed courses don’t utilize these strategies, but keeping them in mind and designing activities, practice, and assessments in cooperation with the best possible tactic for that concept is part of why we hope this course will yield great results.
- By designing with these principles, we can:
- Encourage a natural progression in design.
- Allow many opportunities for natural breaks in the material.
- Provide time dedicated to scaffolding low-stakes practice, but giving incentive to help themselves and others as well.
- Allow play
- This short video gives a short demonstration of how one particular module makes use of all nine of these strategies.
For course design I like how we stepped away from the mold of teaching a textbook. Too often I see the curriculum decisions follow the pattern of:
- Choose the course competencies that make sense for a course.
- Choose a textbook that fits those course competencies.
- Teach lessons that address the types of problems in the textbook.
I feel that with this course, we did a good job of writing the module objectives from the course competencies, and writing the learning activities around those objectives. The materials used for the course truly supplemented the learning, rather than driving the learning.
INTERACTION AND COLLABORATION
Any tips to provide here? Would love to hear from you!
- Create assessments that require students not only to understand the content, but to apply and synthesize the information in an authentic way.
- Make the connection between assessments and course objectives blatantly obvious to your students. They need to see the purpose in what they’re doing.
- Provide low-risk (or no-risk) practice exercises throughout the course. These are excellent self-checks for students, providing feedback on their understanding between the learning activities and assessments.
I am also fairly proud of the scaffolding of the assessment. I feel very confident that students are retaining the information learned in this course — much more than other courses I have taught. In this class, students:
- Practice content immediately after being presented a small topic. (unlimited attempts)
- Complete problem sets covering multiple topics within a module. (multiple attempts)
- Take a quiz covering the content of the module. (single attempt, can earn a retake by getting remediation)
- Take an exam covering content from multiple modules. (single attempt, no retakes)
- Take a final exam over all material in the course (single attempt, no retakes)
This scaffolding reinforces topics to drive them home. Students also have multiple opportunities to self-assess their learning. I am also happy with how students can make easier connections between the learning and the assessment, as their practice starts immediately after a short lesson of material. After teaching this course, I had very few questions of “where did we learn this?”
- Provide a thorough Introduction Module or Orientation that contains all the support information that students have available to them. This may include an introduction to the instructor, access to technical support and academic support, online tutoring, and course/institutional policies on a variety of topics.
- Make sure students know that, even though they are online, all of the on-ground services and benefits available to traditional students are also available to them (clubs, sporting events, tutoring, etc.). This can be done as part of a course orientation or through announcements and emails throughout the duration of the course.
- Schoolcraft does not have a required online orientation for students. Therefore, we created and developed an online orientation module for this course to support the vast amount of first-time online students and first-time college math students who take a developmental math course like this. The orientation includes video overviews of the course and LMS as well as information on other anticipated stumbling blocks for students early in the semester.
- We also decided to use adaptive release rules at key points in the course where students must show mastery or seek additional practice before being permitted to continue with the course.
- Accessibility was a chief concern in developing this course and all media, attachments, and content in the course are accessible to students with disabilities.
- Since developmental math courses do not lend themselves easily to consistent student-student interaction, we created avenues for these interactions to occur continually (message my instructor feature, virtual office hours, and Classmate Assistance Discussion Forum) all of which can aid in students earning valuable quiz retake opportunities.