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A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning

Author: L. Dee Fink
Date: August 1st, 2012
Key Words: course design, orientation to higher education, sound theory, backward design


http://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdfWhen we teach, we engage in two closely related, but distinct, activities. First, we design the course by gathering information and making a number of decisions about the way the course will be taught. Second, we engage in teacher-student interactions as we implement the course we have designed. The concept of Teacher-Student Interaction as used here is a broad one that includes lecturing, leading discussions, running labs, advising, communicating by email, etc. In order to teach well, one must be competent in both course design and teacher-student interactions. However, of these two activities, our ability to design courses well is usually the most limiting factor. Most of us have had little or no training in how to design courses. In addition during the last two decades, research on college teaching and learning have led to some new ideas about course design that have, in essence, “raised the bar” in terms of what is possible. These include ideas such as active learning, significant learning, and educative assessment. How can college teachers learn about and take advantage of these ideas? This Self-Directed Guide is intended to introduce a useful and systematic process for designing courses. It is based on the same components found in most models of instructional design, but it assembles these components into a relational, integrated model rather than a linear one. Among other benefits, this model provides clear criteria for determining when a course design is a good design. This Guide consists of introductory comments, worksheets, and action questions in each of the three major phases of Integrated Course Design.


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