instructional design essentials, week 1

My focus for this course is a first-year experience course, General Education Lifelong Learning, 101 (GEL 101). The librarians teach a two-week module during this 16-week course, and work with 4-6 sections of the course each semester. During this module, we teach the foundations of college research, using a linear research process as the context. The overall goal (which is very difficult to measure) is that students see themselves not only as students, but also as scholars - producers of knowledge. The research process we use is as follows:  Get Assignment, Choose Topic, Understand your Topic (incl. basic web searching, focusing topic and surveying the scholarly literature), Analyze your Topic (incl. draft thesis statement and collecting evidence), Draft/Outline Paper, Revise, Complete. The students move through this process over two weeks (sometimes, closer to three) and complete an infographic as their final project. We use student-centered, active learning techniques, and have incorporated different strategies from AVID, as well.

The librarians who teach this course use the same SLOs and some of the same lesson plans and activities. I have been responsible for the curriculum for the past few years, and make minor adjustments each time I teach the module. This summer, I'm getting ready to test some larger revisions that my colleagues will implement in the fall.

There are a few things that I'd like to change:

1. I'd like to flip my lesson about the research process. Typically, the first day of class is taken up with my lecturing about the research process. I'd like this now to be done as homework prior to the first session, so that students can jump right into their group research.

2. I've been using the same lesson to teach students about scholarly articles for a few years. Students read (skim) through two scholarly articles and have to identify different pieces of the research - what did they study? how did they study it? what did they learn? Just within the last two semesters, students are still unable to identify scholarly articles after this exercise (fewer students had trouble in the past). I'd like to revise this part of the curriculum to include more holistic conversations about scholarship, and give them more time to read, digest and understand these articles.

3. Lastly, Ive been using Costa's Levels of Questions to guide students through their group inquiry. This has, by far, been the most helpful for students to get to a focused topic, but I'd like to find a way to guide them through this process better. Is there an activity that I can develop where we practice as a group first?

And without further ado... the worksheet!

1. Specific Context of the Teaching/Learning Situation 

There are around 30 students in the class, working in groups of 4-5 students. This is a freshman course that 85% of our students complete as a GE requirement. Most of the sections are taught in the fall, but there are some in the spring, which is a completely different dynamic (these students tend to be higher achieving). We meet for 300 minutes total, over 4 or 6 sessions, sometimes followed by an optional drop-in lab. Our module is a hybrid model, where some of the material is delivered via the LMS. We have three different library classrooms used to teach this course - one with rows of computers, one where the computers are around the perimeter of the room, with tables in the middle, and the third a "flipped" classroom with round tables, and one computer per three students.

2. General Context of the Learning Situation

We have a blended model of the first year experience course - not quite equal parts academics and extended-orientation. Many of our instructors come from Student Affairs, with no disciplinary knowledge. The library module may be the only place in this course where there is academic rigor. However, students who take this course have a much higher rate of retention than students who don't take this course.

3. Nature of the Subject  

As I mentioned above, this course provides foundational college research skills that are intended to carry a student through their general education work, into their major, where they will have more in-depth instruction on discipline-specific research.

4. Characteristics of the Learners

We are a commuter campus in northern San Diego county with 10,000 students (thereabouts). We are a Hispanic Serving, Asian-American Native-American Pacific Islander-Serving, and Veteran serving institution. Many of our students are first-generation college students. While some students do see the value in this course, many find it to be a joke, or waste of time.

5. Characteristics of the Teacher

I strongly believe in the research foundational taught in this course. This is my favorite course to work with because I feel like I have an opportunity to help students prepare for the research they will be doing throughout their college career. I love working with first year students in their transition from high school to college, when they are embarking on their journey to find out who they will become (idealistic, probably). In my teaching, I try and honor their experience and their expertise and learn from them as much as they learn from me.  My teaching style is as a guide, helping students find their own way, rather than spending too much time talking at them.

Questions for Formulating Significant Learning Goals
(I'm sure I've forgotten something)

Foundational Knowledge

  • research is a process
  • the evaluation and use of information is situational and nuanced, not absolute
  • authority is also contextual, and will vary based on the community you are in

Application Goals

  • critical thinking - evaluating and understanding sources; making connections between sources (synthesis);
  • creative thinking - inquiry, asking questions

Integrations Goals

  • making the leap between research they did in the past (for school, work, personal interest) to the research they do in college
  • the structure they use to determine the use, authority, credibility, etc. in other communities can be transferred to their community of student-scholars. New community, new rules, same concepts.

Human Dimension Goals

  • there is a human dimension to information; information is only what you make of it. without our interpretation and use, information is nothing.
  • self-confidence in their own authority and expertise

Caring Goals

  • become more confident in their own abilities to do the research/write the paper; complete the analysis or synthesis that is asked of them.
  • embracing their scholar identity

Learning-how-to-learn Goals

  • the student-scholar identity

1 comment:

  1. This is a great opportunity to try flipping the class! It's much easier to do this with your own class than it is to rely on another instructor to entice their students to complete library instruction before an orientation. I've had great success with flipped classrooms, though they do take a lot of work to get right.