NEA – Designing Instruction for Significant Learning

By L. Dee Fink, University of Oklahoma via NEA – Designing Instruction for Significant Learning     Article

“Two ways of creating a course

Teachers should learn to change the way they design courses. The most common way of creating a course—or any form of instruction—is the content-centered approach, sometimes called the “List of Topics” approach. The teacher works up a list of important topics, often using the table of contents from one or more textbooks, decides how much time to allot each topic and how many tests to give—and the “design” is done.

The advantage of this approach is that it is relatively simple. The disadvantage: it pays virtually no attention to what students learn beyond content knowledge, which—if that is all there is—is easily forgotten.

The alternative is to take a systematic, learning-centered approach to designing our courses. The heart of this approach is to first decide what students can and should learn in relation to this subject, and then figure how they can learn it. This approach requires more time but offers our only chance of ensuring that the majority of our students have a significant learning experience.

A model of integrated course design

Figure 1

The diagram in Figure 1 illustrates the basic components of the integrated course design model. In essence, to design any form of instruction, the instructor needs to:

1. Identify important situational factors and then use this information to make three sets of decisions;

  • What do I want students to learn? (Learning Goals)
  • How will students and the teacher know if we are accomplishing these goals? (Feedback and Assessment)
  • What will the teacher and students do to achieve the learning goals? (Teaching/Learning Activities)
  • 2. Make sure that the key components are integrated.”

    NEA – Designing Instruction for Significant Learning

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