Start with End in Mind: Backward Course Design and Constructive Alignment

The workshop’s purpose is to train your organization and mental skills to start planning and designing a course with the end in mind. How? By delivering forward, designing backward, and assessing student’s midpoint. Ideally, the workshop will exhaustively describe the learning objectives and how they should be written. Equally, learning outcomes will be comprehensively discussed.

  1. The Learning Objective

It is a general statement of what is desired for the learner to know, do, or feel due to the learning experience. A classification criterion known as Bloom’s taxonomy is often used to categorize learning objectives into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. The affective and psychomotor domains are concerned with feeling and doing, respectively.

On the other hand, the cognitive domain has six hierarchical levels of complexity, which include recall, grasp, apply, analyze, synthesize, and judge. Students need to climb from the lowest to the highest level of thinking. They ought to recognize and recall facts, understand their meanings, apply them, break them into parts, judge their value, and combine them to make a new whole.

However, many other faculties members get excited about the content and forget to align with their objectives.  Having self-check-in is necessary to ensure constructive alignment. This is where I started in the course, and this is where I’m going. Students need to practice the content, or else there is no point in teaching.

  1. The Learning Outcome

It is a detailed description of how data will be collected to provide evidence that learners have achieved a learning objective. It is often represented as the sum of objective and assessment. Scholars recommend that learning outcomes should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Ideally, when writing learning outcomes, the instructor needs to consider four critical elements: audience, behavior, condition, and degree. He or she should consider who will be completing the unit, what they will need to know, do, or feel, the circumstances under which learning will occur, and how well the behavior must be performed.

  1. Discussion

I enjoyed this section because I like discussions due to their capacity to promote students’ participation and better class flows. However, the key to a discussion is to have it properly organized. I take as an example the first presidential debate that many Americans, including myself, watched recently. The purpose of a debate, as a candidate, is to expose your objectives and action plan. The purpose of debate as part of the audience is to listen to different positions and arguments on a given topic. Naturally, candidates will challenge each other with an intention to shine.

However, with no organization, order, or control, a debate, just like a classroom discussion, can set the tone for the session’s remainder. I will create a debate by assigning viewpoints to my students to prevent them from bringing their opinion, which can create confusion. Creating such controls will ensure that students are distanced from their opinion to create more content.

Another point about discussions is to be patient when sharing with the class the discussion question. The key to discussions is to wait for students to break the ice, regardless of the awkward silence between the question and a first responder. On occasions, the professor should rephrase the question or break it down to simplify it but don’t start discussing or giving answers. It doesn’t matter how many seconds or minutes of silence you may have. It forces students to participate, think, and initiate the discussion. It allows for everyone to participate.

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