Linda Suskie

  A Common Sense Approach to Assessment & Accreditation

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A simple chart for every syllabus

Posted on January 27, 2015 at 7:40 AM

Most colleges and universities require course syllabi to include a list of course objectives. For years I’ve had a fantasy about accreditors requiring something more: a simple 3-column chart.

 

The first column would be titled, “This is what you’ll learn how to do in this course.” Under it would be listed the key learning objectives of the course.

 

The second column would be titled, “This is how you’ll learn how to do this.” For each learning objective, this column would list the learning activities (classwork, homework, projects, etc.) that would help students achieve the objective.

 

The third column would be titled, “This is how you’ll show me that you’ve learned this.” For each learning objective, this column would list what students will submit to show they’ve achieved the objective: a paper, project, presentation, demonstration, exam, etc.

 

In essence, this is a simple curriculum map for a course. I’ve been sharing this fantasy for years, and only a couple of years ago did someone say, “Ah… Dee FInk!” It turned out that Dee, author of Creating Significant Learning Experiences, came up with the same idea long before I did (with somewhat different column headings), so I always give him full credit. I had the honor of doing a workshop with Dee last fall on creating and assessing significant learning experiences. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to work with someone who shares my belief that teaching, learning, and assessment are inextricably linked, not separate processes.

 

Dee points out that, when faculty fill out this chart, they should start with the first column (“This is what you’ll learn how to do”) and then move to the third column (“This is how you’ll show me that you’ve learned it”). Then they should move to the middle column (“This is how you’ll learn how to do this”), designing learning experiences that will enable students to demonstrate their learning successfully.

 

Today I suggest just one tweak to Dee’s 3-column model. After the first column (“This is what you’ll learn how to do”), I suggest inserting one more column, titled “And learning this will help you learn how to…” In this column, faculty would list the program or general education learning outcome that the course objective helps students achieve.

 

Here’s an example:

 

This is what you’ll learn how to do: Analyze your own and others’ responses to a work of art.

And learning this will help you learn how to: Think critically and analytically

This is how you’ll learn how to do this: Small group discussions and presentations of critical responses to artworks

This is how you’ll show me that you’ve learned this: Paper comparing your response to a work of art to those of critics

 

 

 

 

Categories: Practical Tips

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