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Course Design: A Cyclical Process

Produce Courses with the QM Rubric pdf file in Mind. Make an appointment with CTL for a consultation. This could save you time and effort.

This section of the website covers the following elements of the systematic process of course design:

 

ADDIE

ADDIEBefore beginning to construct an online course, it is a good idea to effectively design the instruction you wish to deliver. One of the most common processes used in course design is called ADDIE. ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation & Evaluation.

While ADDIE provides a rudimentary, linear process for developing a course, it lacks detail and is not as easily adaptable to the methods most instructors and designers use to create courses.

In contrast to the ADDIE process, the Morrison, Ross & Kemp model (2007), allows the designer to address any element in the model at any time in the process. We are using a diagram (see below) that combines the ADDIE process with the Morrison, Ross & Kemp Instructional Design Model to give you a more detailed look at how to design an effective course. Usually the first step is identifying the Instructional Problems (this is part of the Analysis phase of ADDIE). Start there on the diagram and click on each of the areas for more information on the process.

ADDIE vs Morrison

References:
Manning, S. & Johnson, K.E. (2011). The technology toolbelt for teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

INSTRUCTIONAL PROBLEMS

This step involves defining the instructional problem. You have been asked to create a course, now you need to identify what the students need to learn.

As a subject matter expert, this may seem simple, but it is suggested that you conduct a simple goal analysis to ensure that you are not missing something important.

  1. Develop an overall goal for the course - this helps establish a sense of direction for the course.
  2. Brainstorm specific objectives that lead to the accomplishment of the overall goal.
  3. Refine the list of specific objectives; delete duplicate objectives or merge similar objectives.
  4. Rank objectives by priority (importance to overall goal or frequency of objectives).
  5. Refine objectives again. Are the objectives related to the fulfillment of the overall goal?

Once the objectives are refined they can be used as part of your plan for training. More instruction on further refining learning objectives so that they are measurable can be found under "Instructional Objectives".

References:
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

LEARNER CHARACTERISTICS

In order for our students to effectively learn, we need to consider their skills, abilities and readiness. Consider the following before designing your course:

  1. studentsWhat are the students' general characteristics (age, gender, education experience, socio-economic background, work experience, online experience)? Understanding the diversity of your students can help you better relate to them during discussion.
  2. What are the prerequisite skills needed in order to benefit from the course (computer skills, content knowledge)? You will want to outline these prerequisites at the beginning of the course. You may also want to check if some students may need remediation.
  3. Consider adaptations necessary for learners from other cultures and for learners with disabilities.

You may consider creating a simple questionnaire for students to answer at the beginning of the course. While you will have already designed your course by then, students' answers may help you confirm that your design is on target or may help you adapt the course as necessary.

An example of questions that can be adapted for your course can be found here.

References:
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sadler, L. (2006). Job aid for the instructional design process following the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp model. Retrieved from https://umdrive.memphis.edu/lsadler/www/Spartans/Assets/LindaSadlerJobAid.pdf

 

TASK ANALYSIS

For most courses you as an instructor will want to conduct a topic or concept analysis. A topic or concept analysis is used "to define the facts, concepts, principles, and rules that make up the final instruction" (Morrison, Ross & Kemp, 2004, p. 80). Such an analysis reveals:

  1. The content for the instruction
  2. The structure of the content (facts, concepts, principles/rules, procedures, interpersonal skills, attitudes)

history slideFor example, suppose you are designing a module on the roots of modern art for an introductory art history course. First you identify the broad topics and then gather more information about each topic and provide more details. You decide to divide the content by time periods and then divide further by art movements.

Next you would go back and identify the facts, concepts, and principles associated with your content.

  • Fact - a statement of association between two or more things.

  • Concept - a category used to group similar ideas or things to organize knowledge.

  • Principle or Rule - a statement of the relationship between concepts. Given a set of conditions, the learner is able to predict the consequences of an event (or given the consequences, a learner is able to predict the conditions).

  • Procedure - a sequence of events that the learner performs to accomplish a task.

  • Interpersonal Skills or Attitudes - students develop the ability to effectively communicate in a situation or they develop specific beliefs with associated behaviors and responses.

Further explanation of the content types can be found here.

Classifying your information will help you as you write learning objectives and decide on learning strategies later in the process.

References:
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sadler, L. (2006). Job aid for the instructional design process following the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp model. Retrieved from https://umdrive.memphis.edu/lsadler/www/Spartans/Assets/LindaSadlerJobAid.pdf

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES

A learning outcome describes in measureable terms the skills that the student is able to demonstrate with the knowledge of the discipline once they have reached competency. Learning outcomes are important because

  • they help the instructional designer/instructor select appropriate activities for effective learning
  • they guide the design of effective assessments of learning
  • they let students know what they are supposed to be learning and mastering

When writing an learning outcome, you need to keep in mind that the outcome is related to the intended outcomes of learning, not the process for achieving the outcomes. Also, outcomes are concerned with students, not teachers.

Effective Learning Outcome

Ineffective Learning Outcome

After viewing Apocalypse Now and reading Heart of Darkness, the student will be able to interpret the symbol of “wilderness” and compare the treatment of wilderness in both stories.

Students will be able to read Heart of Darkness and the teacher will show Apocalypse Now in class.

(This is not an effective learning outcome because it is concerned with the process rather than the intended outcomes of learning.)

 

Effective learning outcomes are:

  • Specific - not general or broad; they should be precise enough that you can easily tell if the objective has been met
  • Observable/Measurable - describe a tangible outcome that can be easily measured
  • Clearly stated and understandable for the student
QMRubric standards 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5 require that course and module learning outcomes are consistent with each other and that all outcomes are measurable, clearly stated, include instructions on how to meet the outcomes, and are appropriately designed for the level of the course.

 

Simply put, a learning outcome includes an action verb (such as “interpret”) and the content being treated (such as the symbol of wilderness in Apocalypse Now). Measurable learning outcomes ensure instructors precisely describe what students are to gain from instruction, and then guide instructors to accurately assess student accomplishment.
Sometimes learning outcome include these optional elements:

  • Level of achievement - 8 out of 10 correct, within 5 minutes
  • Conditions of performance - "Given an assigned reading..."

 

 

References:
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sadler, L. (2006). Job aid for the instructional design process following the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp model. Retrieved from https://umdrive.memphis.edu/lsadler/www/Spartans/Assets/LindaSadlerJobAid.pdf

 

PROGRAM LEARNING OUTCOMES, COURSE LEARNING OUTCOMES and MODULE LEARNING OUTCOMES

There are three types of learning outcomes: Program learning outcomes, course learning outcomes, and module-level (or unit-level) outcomes. The outcomes are structured the same but have different foci.

  • Program Outcomes - derived from the University and school missions, these learning outcomes are more general, focusing on a program discipline instead of one course's content.
  • Course Learning Outcomes - more specific; includes required action, such as "The student will be able to deliver a compelling persuasive speech using Monroe's Motivated Sequence".
  • Module-level or Unit-level Outcomes - most specific; breaks down the course learning outcome into smaller achievable parts, such as "The student will demonstrate how the speech topic applies to the psychological need of the audience members."

In most instances you will use Program Learning Outcomes as a resource to assist you in creating course and module learning outcomes.

Start Thinking About Assessment

As you plan your learning outcomes (what you want students to be able to do at the end of instruction) you also need to think about how you are going to assess the student's achievement of the learning outcome.

  • How will you know that the student has achieved the outcome?
  • What is acceptable evidence of proficiency?

Once you decide on outcomes and assessments, then you can determine the learning activities and resources that will effectively align with the outcomes and assessments. You are effectively "designing backward".

One method to begin this process is to use a matrix that includes all course and module outcomes. Use the matrix to align appropriate assessments, learning activities, technology, and resources with the outcomes. The following example shows a matrix created for one course outcome.

Assessments

Learning Activities and week or Unit

Course Technology

Resources

Supports This Course Outcome

Deliver a Persuasive Speech following the criteria on the rubric

1. Write a speech outline and create slides-wk1
2. Practice speech and get feedback-wk 2
3. Deliver Persuasive Speech

PowerPoint or Prezi

Chapter 1, Public Speaking text (cite)

Deliver a compelling persuasive speech using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

This will be a draft for you as you go through the planning process, so plan to make changes as you get further into the design and development of the course.

References:

Jonassen, D. H. (1997). Instructional design models for well-structured and ill-structured problem-solving learning outcomes. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(1), 65-94.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sadler, L. (2006). Job aid for the instructional design process following the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp model. Retrieved from https://umdrive.memphis.edu/lsadler/www/Spartans/Assets/LindaSadlerJobAid.pdf

Wiggins, G.P. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. (2nd Ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).


 

CONTENT SEQUENCING

In this phase you are considering the nature of the content in order to determine the order of instruction.

Three different schemes for sequencing your content are provided. You may decide to use one method or combine the methods as appropriate.

  1. Learning-Related Sequencing
    This method looks at what the learner needs to know, what they already know, and what will benefit them in regard to comfort and motivation.
    • What are the prerequisite skills necessary to accomplish complex tasks?
    • Begin with familiar material
    • Begin with easier material before moving to difficult material
    • Begin with material that is most interesting and engaging for the learner
    • Ensure that the learner is developmentally prepared for the task
       
  2. World-Related Sequencing
    This method presents course content in categories found in the "real world" and describes 3 ordering strategies.
    • Spatial (e.g. left to right, top to bottom)
    • Temporal (related to time, steps in a procedure, speed)
    • Physical characteristics (shape, size, color)
       
  3. Concept-Related Sequencing
    This method organizes content sequence based on concepts.
    • Class relations - teach general concepts before component parts
    • Propositional relations - give real world examples, then teach the proposition or concept
    • Sophistication - move from concrete concepts to abstract
    • Logical prerequisite - teach prerequisite concepts first

References:
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sadler, L. (2006). Job aid for the instructional design process following the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp model. Retrieved from https://umdrive.memphis.edu/lsadler/www/Spartans/Assets/LindaSadlerJobAid.pdf

 

INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES

Instructional strategies define how the content is developed and taught so that the objectives are met.

Learning takes place when learners connect new information with information that they already know. This is called generative learning. Cognitive research has shown that learners immersed in generative learning environments generate subproblems, subgoals, and strategies for achieving a larger task.

Generative learning strategies can be broken down into four methods to help learners connect the new and old information in meaningful ways:

  1. Recall strategies- repetition, rehearsal (mental practice), review, mnemonics
  2. Application - applying content to new situations
  • Integration strategies - transforming information into a more easily remembered form; paraphrasing, generating questions, generating examples
  • Organizational strategies - helping learners identify how new ideas relate to existing ideas; analyzing key ideas (interrelating them); outlining, categorizing
  • Elaboration strategies - learners add their ideas to new information; generation of mental images, creating physical diagrams, sentence elaboration

Strategies from these four areas can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to achieve a learning goal.

To decide on a generative instructional strategy, first categorize the instructional objective by content type (fact, concept, principle, procedure, interpersonal skill, or attitude). Then decide whether the student will need to recall the information or apply it.

Further explanation of the content types can be found here.

The following instructional strategy chart summarizes generative strategies for content types at recall and application levels. A printable pdf of this chart can be found here.


Content Type

Recall
relies on rote memorization of content

Application
requires learner to apply content to a new situation

Fact

Generative strategies
-
rehearsal/practice, Mnemonics, elaborative interrogation (why is a fact true?)
 

 

Concept

Presentation:
- definition, discriminating characteristics, best examples and non-examples

Strategies: repetition, rehearsal, review mnemonics

Integrative strategies - learner generates or determines new examples and non-examples

Organizational strategies
- Analysis of key ideas
- Categorization
- Cognitive mapping

Principle/Rule

Presentation
-
rule - example(state the rule then show an example)
- example - rule (provide several examples and ask the learner to generate the rule)

Integrative strategies
- Learner paraphrases or generates their own example

Organizational Strategies- Learners identify key attributes and compare with other principles

Elaborative Strategy
- Learner develops a diagram or argument to explain the principle
 

Procedure

Cognitive Procedures
Presentation: demonstration of the procedure with worked examples

Psychomotor Procedures
Presentation: demonstration of procedure via motion or still pictures

Cognitive Procedures
Step 1: Learner paraphrases the procedure or embellishes the process
Step 2: Learner practices applying the procedure and is provided feedback

Psychomotor Procedures
Step 1: Learner develops a mental picture of the procedure, paraphrases it, or elaborates on it
Step 2: Learner practices procedure and is provided feedback via instructor, samples for comparison or a checklist
 

Interpersonal Skills/Attitudes

Step 1: Model the skill (live demonstrations, role plays, videotapes, printed scenarios)

Step 2: Learner develops verbal and imaginal models
Step 3: Learner mentally rehearses skills
Step 4: Learner overtly practices skill (role play, simulation)
 


References:

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sadler, L. (2006). Job aid for the instructional design process following the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp model. Retrieved from https://umdrive.memphis.edu/lsadler/www/Spartans/Assets/LindaSadlerJobAid.pdf

 

LEARNER INTERACTION & ENGAGEMENT

Student engagement in a course occurs through a combination of motivation and active learning. In regard to motivation, a student must expect that given appropriate effort they can succeed in the course. Additionally, a student must see the value and relevancy of what they are learning. An instructor can enhance motivation by providing clear instructions for succeeding in the course and by explaining the purpose of the course and its application in "real life".

QMRubric standard 5.2 requires that learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning. Standard 5.3 requires that instructors clear state their response time for communication and assignment feedback.

 

Active learning requires student interaction with the course content, instructor, and often other students in the course.

Student interaction with content

Instructors assume that students will interact with the content of a course because students are expected to complete readings and other course activities. But student-content interaction is more than reading a textbook - it is active involvement and exploration of course content that guides students toward transformative learning.
Examples of student-content interaction include:

  • Guided didactic interaction in the materials - a “conversation-like quality” in materials
  • Elaborative questions within the text
  • Simulations
  • Self-assessment exercises
  • Automated feedback in quizzes
  • Digital learning objects
  • Peer editing

Student interaction with the instructor

Student-instructor interaction is generally valued highest among distance learning students. Effective interaction and a sense of teaching presence requires instructors to let students know when they are available to communicate with students and how quickly they will give feedback to student assignments. Examples of student-instructor interaction include:

  • Use of announcements in Blackboard
  • Personal and all-class emails
  • Instructor feedback and questioning in the course discussion board
  • Synchronous conferencing (Wimba Live Classroom) for all-class discussion and individual consultation
  • Student and instructor blogs and journals

Student interaction with other students

Student-student interaction is critical when a course is based on constructivist learning theories or group work. Students often report feeling less isolated when they know other students in their courses.

Examples of student-student interaction include:

  • Class discussion boards - including an introduction forum and a “water cooler” area
  • Debates
  • Group projects
  • Social Networks
  • Peer editing

References:

Anderson, T. (2003). Getting the mix right again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction. Te International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 4(2).

Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student engagement techniques. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sadler, L. (2006). Job aid for the instructional design process following the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp model. Retrieved from https://umdrive.memphis.edu/lsadler/www/Spartans/Assets/LindaSadlerJobAid.pdf

 

DESIGNING THE MESSAGE

The design of your instructional content and message is just as important as the process of developing your learning objectives and instructional objectives. Effective message design engages learners and highlights key points in the instructional materials.

Pre-instructional Strategies
You can prepare your students for what they are about to learn by including appropriate pre-instructional strategies.

Pretest - A set of questions relevant to the subject matter given before instruction that gets students to start thinking about the subject matter. Often the pretest results are also used to identify students' level of competency in the subject matter before instruction.

Learning Objectives - inform students what they are expected to do or achieve at the end of the instruction. A good place to include the learning objectives is in the Overview section of your course template in Blackboard.

Overviews and Advance Organizers - used to introduce students to the central themes of the unit of study.

  • Overviews are usually a brief written introduction about the upcoming unit and may include key concepts.
QMIn order to meet QM rubric standards 1.1 and 1.2, course overviews must clearly show students how to get started on the course, where to find course components, and introduce the purpose and structure of the course.
  • Advance organizers provide a broad conceptual framework for the learner that emphasize the context of the content to be learned.
  • Expository Advance Organizers - used for new, completely unfamiliar material. This may include a list of concepts and a description of each concept.
  • Comparative organizers - compares new content with what is already known.

Advance Organizer resources:

Using Textual Signals in the Course Materials
Effective instructional materials are structured so that they are readable and key points can be easily identified. Typographical signals that draw the eye to key concepts include:

  • Headings (usually bold face or larger font size)
  • Italics
  • Bullet points
  • Lists

Using Images and Graphics to Enhance Learning
Images related to text force the learner to immediately process and apply what they have read, which in turn leads to greater retention.  Here are a few ways that images can be used to enhance learning:

Demonstrate a Complex Task
Imagine trying to teach the Pythagorean theorem without the use of visuals! Students can demonstrate their mastery of course objectives by applying information presented to them via images. Other complex tasks, specifically those related to abstract theories, are simplified with the aid of images.

Description: https://regent.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-512781-dt-content-rid-3494444_2/xid-3494444_2

Organize Learning
Using images in instruction also helps the student organize their learning.  Providing visual aids, such as organizational charts, graphic organizers, or graphs, can help a student internalize important concepts more readily.

Description: https://regent.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-512781-dt-content-rid-3494445_2/xid-3494445_2

Show Steps in a Process
Describing steps in a complex process can be especially difficult in the online learning environment.  Using images showing each step in the process can be especially helpful to students.

 

Description: https://regent.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-512781-dt-content-rid-3494446_2/xid-3494446_2

Visual Metaphors
Use of visual metaphors "scaffolds" the students' previous knowledge with the new information you are presenting, thus making the instruction more meaningful to the students.

Description: https://regent.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-512781-dt-content-rid-3494447_2/xid-3494447_2

Present Data
Using images to present data, such as graphs and charts created in Excel, are especially useful to students.  When these graphs and charts are accompanied with detailed explanations, they can be a very powerful learning tool. 

 

Description: https://regent.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-512781-dt-content-rid-3494448_2/xid-3494448_2

 

References:
Hartley, J. & Davies, I.K. (1976). Preinstructional strategies: The role of pretests, behavioral objectives, overviews and advance organizers. Review of Educational Research, 46(2), 239-265.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES

An important part of designing instruction is choosing and developing course materials. This may include textbooks, primary sources, reference and supplementary materials, audio and video resources, and external internet resources.

When choosing new instructional materials:

  • Select 3 to 5 primary materials to review based on suggestions from colleagues or book reviews.
  • Compare your learning outcomes with the course materials to determine if the material will help students achieve the learning outcomes.

Read a chapter covering content you know well and anther chapter covering material with which you are less familiar. Determine how well the material conveys key concepts.

QMRubric standards 4.1 and 4.2 require that instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated learning outcomes and that the purpose of the instructional materials is clearly explained in the course.

Consider creating your own instructional materials. Use of podcasts, videos, blogs and wikis in online courses often prove to engage students in learning. For more information, check out our Teacher's Toolkit.

QMRubric standards 6.1 and 6.2 require that that tools and media support the course learning outcomes and engage students to become active learners.

References:
McKeachie, W. (1999). McKeachie's teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (10th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

 

FORMATIVE AND SUMMATIVE EVALUATION

The goal of evaluation is to determine if learning is successful, however approaches to evaluation differ based on the stage of the instructional design process. Evaluation can be divided into formative and summative evaluation.

  • Formative evaluation - conducted early in the process during course development.
  • Summative evaluation - conducted after a course is run; measure the degree to which major outcomes are attained.

Formative Evaluation

Formative evaluation methods are used during course development to identify and improve any weaknesses with the instruction. Formative evaluation should be conducted throughout the course design and development process - they serve as a type of quality management for the course. For example:

  • When writing learning objectives, you want to check that they sufficiently describe the intended outcomes and are in alignment with course goals.
  • When choosing instructional strategies, compare the learning objectives and strategies to make sure knowledge and skills are appropriately matched. Is the length of time necessary for instruction and learning appropriate?
  • During the message design, determine if your text structures convey the appropriate meaning and are readable. Make sure all images, video and audio correctly illustrate the concept being taught.
  • When developing assessments, do they align with the learning objectives?

Formative evaluations can be conducted using the design team, subject matter experts, or a pilot test of the course.

Summative Evaluation

Summative evaluation methods are used to verify that all learning outcomes are achieved at the end of the course. Unit exams, papers, and other alternative assessments are used to measure student mastery of the content.

When choosing assessments for your course, consider whether they are consistent with the course and module learning outcomes and whether learning activities and resources have provided enough information or skill building for the student to meet the requirements of the assessment.

  • Do the learning activities and resources provide sufficient guidance to successfully complete the assessment?
  • Are the course and module learning objectives written at the same level of cognitive skill as the assessment? For example, are the course learning outcomes, module learning outcomes and assessment all written for the "applying" level of Bloom’s Taxonomy?
  • Is the assessment appropriate for the level of the course and the students?
QMRubric standards 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 require that assessments are consistent with course and module learning outcomes and course activities and resources. Moreover, the QM rubric requires that the course grading policy is clearly stated and that specific and descriptive criteria are provided for the assessment of student work.

 

Types of Assessments

Traditional assessments include unit and comprehensive exams, essays, and term papers. An alternative assessment is any type of assessment in which students create a response to a question or task. (In traditional assessments, students choose a response from a given list, such as multiple-choice, true/false, or matching). Alternative assessments can include short answer questions, essays/term papers, performances, oral presentations or demonstrations, exhibits, case studies, portfolios, service learning, and more.

The following is a sample list of alternative assessments:

Case Study/Problem-Based Learning

A case study is a higher-level activity that requires students to demonstrate understanding of concepts in order to solve a problem or set of problems; provide real insight into the practical aspects their chosen field.
Examples:

Simulations/Scenarios

Students are forced to interact in very real situations and must demonstrate "real-time" mastery of course objectives. (practicum and mock experiences)

Student created products (to teach classmates)

Student-created products (or other student-created learning objects) help students clarify what they have learned by requiring them to succinctly communicate it to others. As they teach, they learn.
Examples of products include PowerPoints, stories, news stories, research reports, annotated bibliographies, advertisements, videos, artwork, music, games, posters, etc.

Dialogues/Discussions/Debates

Discussions require students to really think about what they are learning, rationalize opinions, and consider perspectives from other students. Discussions allow the instructor to evaluate if students have a deep understanding of a subject or concept.

Research Papers

Research papers are best when they are student-centered and allow students to choose the topic or focus of the paper. Students build their knowledge as they uncover information relevant to their research interests.

Concept Mapping

Concept maps help students organize knowledge that facilitates further learning. Additionally, the instructor can use concept maps to identify student misconceptions and what needs to be reviewed.
Examples: Mind Mapping, What is Concept Mapping?

Interviews

Developing interview questions and performing meaningful interviews requitres students to understand the topic being covered and analyze and evaluate interview responses.

Performance

Student performances are used to reveal the students' understanding of concepts/skills and their ability to apply, analyze, or synthesize those concepts/skills.
Examples:

Portfolio

A portfolio serves as a way to gather student assignments in order to evaluate the growth of their knowledge and skills. Additionally, portfolios can be used by students to reflect on their work, assess their knowledge/skills, and set goals.

Journal, Blog, or Individual/Group Wiki

Blogs and wikis can be used for journaling or creation of a product by individuals or groups. For more on blogs and wikis see:

Group Report, Project or Presentation

Many alternative assessments can be completed as a group. For more information, see examples from Tools for Teaching and Teach Philosophy 101

Using Rubrics

"A rubric is a scoring tool that lays out the specific expectations for an assignment. Rubrics divide an assignment into its component parts and provide a detailed description of what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable levels of performance for each of those parts." (Stevens & Levi, 2005, p. 3).

The benefits of using a rubric include providing clear instructions and expectations to students on assignments, providing timely feedback to students, encouraging critical thinking, and helping us as instructors refine our teaching methods.

Rubrics are composed of 4 basic parts:

  • Task description (assignment)
  • Scale (levels) to measure degrees of achievement
  • Dimensions of the assignment (a breakdown of the skills/knowledge involved in the assignment)
  • Feedback/Description of what constitutes each level of performance

rubric example

Rubric Resources:

References:
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction. (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Stevens, D.D. & Levi, A.J. (2005). Introduction to rubrics. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Tessmer, M. (2001). Planning and conducting formative evaluations. London, NJ: Kogan Page Limited.

When your course is finished, consider having a peer review and use feedback to continually improve.