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Improving Course Design and Assessment

Improving Course Design and Assessment

Improving Course Design

Course writing and assessment can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you’re already working full-time as an educator. But your students deserve the best you can offer them, so don’t shortchange yourself and your students by skimping on this area of the course. This guide will help you improve course writing and assessment in the following ways

Improved Course Design

Teachers often complain about too much grading. The solution: fewer, more meaningful assignments—assignments that are designed from a learner’s perspective rather than from a teacher’s perspective. Improved course design is an important part of improving course writing and assessment, which can lead directly to better grades. Our You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers post provides teachers with valuable information on how they can improve their course design with assignments such as projects, tests, quizzes and papers. It also includes information on how learners benefit from these kinds of assignments (e.g., increased engagement). There are also links to additional resources for teachers who want to take their learning experience beyond what they teach in class.

Improved Learning Outcomes

The most effective course design is learner-centered, but that doesn’t mean you can just toss students into a pile of work and hope they start learning. Instead, focus on improving learning outcomes—the specific skills, knowledge, or attitude a student is expected to gain from completing your course. In order for students to improve their performance over time, they must first be able to learn how to learn. Once students know how they learn best (i.e., how information is acquired or organized), then we can figure out how best to provide them with that information.

Improved Student Engagement

The most important element in improving course writing and assessment is engaging students, said Kinash. One of his biggest mistakes in early teaching days was focusing on the mechanics of teaching—things like using a class textbook or grading papers—rather than really understanding what made students tick. Identifying engagement as your key goal will help you be more effective at building a course that aligns with what motivates your student population. The most successful professors, according to Kinash, do three things: create a sense of accountability for themselves through regular meetings with students; model authentic dialogue by facilitating conversations instead of lecturing; and take an interest in their learners’ lives outside of class—even if that’s simply checking out a student’s Instagram feed.

Improved Feedback

To encourage students to develop their written work further, encourage them to ask for feedback on their first drafts. This should be done in a way that is positive. Comments such as That’s not bad, but it needs… or This bit isn’t working very well… will often do more harm than good. Instead try something like: I think that you have done some really good work here, but I would like to suggest [insert suggestion]. Would you like me to make some comments? or I want you to go away with an idea of what you could do next time so why don’t we discuss your draft in more detail after class tomorrow? I promise no criticism until then!

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