Here is the second installment of using L. Dee Fink’s method of course design. In the first installment, I ran through the first phase of the process, identifying primary components. Now I’ll be assembling those components into a coherent whole by aligning the course’s schedule and topics with what students will be doing.
What topics will I introduce? (thematic structure)
I am using travel as a unifying theme that introduces students to:
- Identity politics.
- Personal transformation.
- Conflict, prejudice, and injustice.
- Global interconnectedness.
What will students need to do? (instructional strategies)
- Reading responses: read — write — discuss — write.
- Short analytical papers to gain background knowledge for each of three games spaced throughout the semester: read — write.
- Game design: collaborate — create — evaluate.
- Meta-cognitive assignments that bookend the semester: reflect — write.
- Civic engagement project: listen — communicate — collaborate — write.
What is the overall scheme of learning activities?
This step integrates the selected instructional strategies with the course’s schedule. Fink provides a handy diagram for laying this out visually (p. 261) that is divided into in-class and out-of-class activities. I will describe my organizational plan rather than trying to reproduce the diagram here:
- Students read and write outside of class three times per week, for a period of several weeks. In class, they discuss what they have written. I might test them to motivate them to take handwritten notes on readings and discussions.
- At three points in the semester, each student completes a writing assignment outside of class to prepare them for game design. In class, they work in teams to design a game, then they play the games designed by other teams and evaluate them. This process will occur over several class periods and will overlap with the activities related to the reading responses.
- The civic engagement project, if it happens, will involve trips to a community center on three Saturdays during the first half of the semester. One-third of the class will go on each trip. I’m thinking that this justifies canceling class the day before, but I will keep the deadlines for the reading responses on those days unchanged.
- The knowledge plan is due at the close of the add-drop period at the beginning of the semester and the quality of failure essay is due the day after classes end.
My next post will look at the final phase of course design — taking care of important details.