instructional design essentials, week 2, part 2

I've been reading through my previous posts, and am not sure that I've made clear my intentions for this course.

I'm looking at an entire 2-week (Research Module) curriculum of foundational college research skills. I have module-level outcomes, and sub-outcomes that will help students reach those larger ones. If there is anything unclear about what I'm trying to accomplish, I'd love to hear your feedback.

It was easier for me to complete the worksheet of my Outcomes, Assessments and Activities, before I went through the integrating steps.

Worksheet for Designing a Course

1. Situational Factors 

This question has been a big one for me lately:

"Are there any disconnects between your beliefs and values, the student characteristics, the specific or general context, or the nature of the subject in relation to the way you propose to run the course?"

I don't think I can answer that here, but I have thought so much about my assumptions about my students, and how I teach from that and how it affects my students' learning. Some of the changes I've made in the recent past has tried to address that, but I'm not sure it has. If you are interested more in examining your own assumptions, I highly recommend taking the Teaching Perspectives Inventory.

As I designed the Community Problem assignment, it occurred to me that students may not want to be in control of their own learning, and won't engage with the assignment. To me, this is way to learn about identifying an information need, finding and evaluating appropriate sources, and then using that information that will engage the whole student, and respect their experience, knowledge and authority. However, for many students who are the products of public education, they may be so accustomed to the teacher-as-authority gig that they are reluctant to take control. I only have two weeks to build their trust, and we're going to have to jump right in. Hopefully, they'll go along with it.

2. Learning Goals and Feedback & Assessment 

These readings and exercises have been helpful in making connections between the LO and the assessment. I would often have an "understand" LO and ask the students to show me they could "apply" that concept. I'm confident that my LOs and assessments will be more aligned from here on out.

Self-reflection has always been a component in assessing my students' growth and learning, whether it's a one-shot or multi-shot.  From a basic 3-2-1 assessment asking them to recount what they learned, to a more detailed writing assignment about their learning experience. My concern is that I'm not asking the right questions to get them to reflect deeply on their experience. How do you encourage them to think deeply about their learning?

3. Learning Goals and Teaching/Learning Activities 

Throughout the two-week module the learning activities support the smaller assignments that will help students complete the larger assignment. For example, on day 3, we talk about the criteria for scholarly articles, review some reading strategies, and why these articles are valued so highly in academic research. This is done in a short lecture, which is followed by time where the students work in pairs to skim through some sample articles and answer the following questions:

  • What do they study?
  • How do they study it?
  • What did they learn?
Once the students complete the reading, we review this as a class, and talk further about why science articles look differently than humanities or social sciences articles. This one activity helps build students' understanding of the concepts and will help them to accomplish the following SLOs:

  • Identifying suitable types of information sources for their specific purpose.
  • Critically evaluating the information retrieved based on the context.
  • Understanding the values of different communities and scholarly disciplines.

4. Teaching/Learning Activities and Feedback & Assessment 

This is an area where I have the most room to improve. While I do give meaningful, empathetic feedback, my criteria and standards may not be clear from the beginning. Prior to my next teaching of the research module (late June-early July), I'm going to work through the assignment and develop some examples which will help me determine the criteria and standards. I also hope that these examples will help the more visual learners to have a better concept of what they're completing.


  1. I really like the worksheet you produced for working through the course design. It is very "chewable" and not overwhelming.

    I thought for LO 2, you might be able to d some sort of "pair-share-compare" activity. If students worked through some questions of some sort together, I think they would quickly realize that no two people approach research in the same way, and this could help them articulate why they do what they do, and how they might do things differently.

  2. In your worksheet, you have students write a reflection on how they conduct research vs the video - I'd actually have them write the reflection before the video, so their answers are less prompted.

    Another option for LO #2, is to give different groups different databases (a reference source, the catalog/discovery system, article databases, etc.) or hand them different types of sources relevant to their prompt, then once they've had a chance to look through the information and discuss what they found, you rearrange the groups into new groups so each new group has one person from every previous group to explain their database or source type and comparing them.

    For LO #5, you could try a role playing game. First, have them pick a character from a hat (blogger, journalist, scholar, etc.) You give a prompt and a few sources, then have them interpret and choose the information from the appropriate source based on which character they are. They right an excerpt of a finished "essay" and at the end of class, they compare excerpts, explaining how and why they chose the source they did and how it affect what they wrote.