Thursday, April 07, 2011

Faculty-Student Teams Design Courses - Antidote for "Academically Adrift"?

Surprises:  Mutual responsibility for course success;  [some?] students want big assignments!
Surprise!  Students crave structure:  "students wanted, even demanded, cumbersome assignments that tested the depths of their knowledge. They just didn't want them handed out on the first day of class and never mentioned again until the last week."

Want to increase student engagement...Why not invite the students to help design the course? Professors McKay and Boccio at McDaniel College in Maryland gave that a try back in January for three courses this spring. [history, sociology, arts]

McKay, who directs McDaniel's Center for Teaching Excellence, borrowed the idea from Elon University in North Carolina, which has used faculty-student teams to design courses since 2005. She says she is always looking for ways to get undergraduates more engaged in her classes.

McKay and fellow faculty collaborator, Raley, learned some surprising things: that students crave structure, and they wanted demanding assignments that tested their depth of knowledge and creativity. And, of course, as in any collaboration, the learning wasn't just one-sided. The students discovered that teaching a course was more work than they thought, and that there is mutual responsibility in whether a course reaches its potential.

Read more about McDaniel's and Elon's efforts to improve student engagement!
"McDaniel Students Help Design the Classes They're Taking," by Childs WalkerBaltimore Sun, April 3, 2011

 "Power and Expertise: Student-Faculty Collaboration in Course Design and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning"; Mihans, Long, Felten, Elon University, in International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, July 2008.

See:  Academically Adrift:  Limited Learning on College Campuses, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, Chicago University Press

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