instructional design essentials, final post

1. A description of your environment: your teaching scenario, learners, purpose or end goal, and timeline. Are you teaching face-to-face or online? Is this a tutorial or a course? A one-shot library instruction session? Be specific. [from 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:
  1. Get Assignment, 
  2. Choose Topic, 
  3. Understand your Topic (incl. basic web searching, focusing topic and surveying the scholarly literature), 
  4. Analyze your Topic (incl. draft thesis statement and collecting evidence), 
  5. Draft/Outline Paper, 
  6. Revise, 
  7. Complete
  8. Reflect and Evaluate 
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 learning takes place in the classroom, and online.

2. Your learning outcomes. These should be based on the needs and expectations of your environment. Are these outcomes appropriate for your learners? [from week 2]

Students will demonstrate the disposition of a student-scholar by:
  • Using an academic research process to create new information.
  • Identifying suitable types of information sources for their specific purpose.
  • Finding the information effectively and efficiently.
  • Critically evaluating the information retrieved based on the context.
  • Understanding the values of different communities and scholarly disciplines.
I see these as being overarching LOs with smaller goals within. For example, under "Identifying suitable types of information sources for their specific purpose" would be developing criteria for "suitable," and identifying scholarly literature for their discipline.

3. How will you assess your learners? What formative and summative assessments would best fit in your teaching scenario? Do they align with your outcomes? [from week 2]

  • Presentation to their Community - Infographic:
    • language appropriate for their community (e.g. lay terms v. technical terms)
    • visual depictions of the problem and solution
    • evidence that is valued by that community (e.g. personal narratives, local expert testimony)
  • Presentation to the Decision/Policy Maker - Letter:
    • writing appropriate for this audience (more formal)
    • detailed descriptions of the problem and solution
    • evidence that is valued by this community (e.g. research, data)

These assessments are intended to measure students' learning throughout the module, but there are smaller, interim assessments for each concept. For example, after learning about scholarly articles, they need to find one on their topic and bring it in to share with their group. 

4. Learning theories and other instructional approaches to implement. What learning theories best support your outcomes? How might you leverage these theories to develop content and assessments? [from week 3]

Why these work for constructivism (based on Cooperstein & Kocevar-Weidinger)
  • Construct own meaning; ask, don't tell. By letting students determine what they want to learn, this can motivate them to participate and learn by doing. 
  • Build on prior knowledge. Students are invited to think about how they've done things in the past in order to know how to proceed. This asks them to make the connection (dare I say transfer their own learning) between what they have done and what they think they will be doing.
  • Social interaction. I am a collaborative thinking, and invite the students to do the same: two brains are better than one. While this can be frustrating to a few students, overwhelmingly, students are happy to work with a neighbor on a quick in-class activity.
  • Authentic tasks. This is something that I have always worked consistently to do. In each of my examples above, the activities were developed to mimic/model what students are expected to do by their professors in their research assignments.

5. What tools will you use to deliver this content and have learners interact with your instruction? What might work best and why? [from week 4]

As mentioned in my post for week 4, these are selected technologies I use in my classes: Guide on the Side, Padlet, Poll Everywhere and Piktochart.

6. Reflect on what you have learned. What has been most useful? What do you feel you are still struggling with? How has this course changed how you approach instruction?

The most helpful was making the connection between the learning outcomes and the assessment. I needed to refocus my assessment efforts in a way that assessed students in a way that actually measured the learning outcome. While I've not completed my revision of my in-class assessments, I have the tools to do so.

I really need to think more about how the research process fits within the library module. Since that is the framework we use for the library module, it needs to facilitate the learning outcomes. Is this the best process to use to accomplish this? Is it too prescriptive, or too linear? My concern is also that it may not take into account the students' previous experience, and they own conception of the research process.

As I sat to work on this post and reviewed my work, I realize that I've bitten off more than I can chew for such as short time. Instead of focusing on the entire curriculum for our two-week module, I could have focused on one specific learning outcome and the activities and assessment to complete it. This course has given me the tools and motivation to do a larger revision of the library module over the summer.

7. Finally, did you find any of your coursemates' blogs particularly helpful? Link to any particularly useful posts or entire blogs from your peers. What have you learned from your peers?

I've gotten some great ideas from many blogs, but not one in particular. As I've mentioned in my posts, I have a very collaborative mind so the comments I got from everyone was quite helpful.

8. [Optional] Were you able to incorporate aspects of critical pedagogy into your instruction? What are you excited about in regards to this? What do you find most challenging? Or conversely, if you are not supportive of critical pedagogy: why?

One of the reasons I signed up for this course was to have the time to think more about integrating critical pedagogy into my practice. I had a few hiccups in the past couple weeks that took the time I'd set aside for this and didn't get as far as I'd liked. Using critical pedagogy is the next step in my development as a teacher. The first step for me is to be more mindful of the lives of my students, and not only honor their experiences, but incorporate that into my classes.

The most challenging aspect for me is uncovering the political, social and economic aspects of information. I feel like I have the most to grow in this area, especially in terms of my own understanding of the political, social and economic aspects.

I am excited to learn more about critical pedagogy (and practice) and integrate this more into my practice. If anyone has recommendations for additional readings, I'd love to hear them!

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