Faculty/student pairs redesign courses within their discipline

Jan Nedermeijer

Collaborative Curricular (re)Construction—Tracking Faculty and Student Learning Impacts and Outcomes Five Years Later. Gintaras K. Duda, Department of Physics and Mary Ann Danielson, Department of Communication Studies both form Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Contact: gkduda@creighton.edu, International Journal for Students as Partners Vol. 2, Issue 2. December 2018

An impression of the content of the article is given below.

Paired faculty (academics) and students
The Collaborative Curricular (re)Construction, or C3 , was an initiative at Creighton University that paired faculty (academics) and students in a process of backward course design, in two cohorts, in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years. Faculty/student pairs worked over the span of a year to redesign a course within their discipline; courses ranged from theory-, skill-, and laboratory-based courses.

Table 1. C3 work summary

Meeting 1 (large group):
Introductions of participants and courses
Explanation and clarification of the purpose of the workgroup

Meeting 2 (large group)
Mini-workshop on Backwards Design Principles
Group discussion of purpose and objectives of courses
Group discussion of learning objectives of courses

Meetings 3-5* (individual);
Reconstruction of the course syllabus Work on key learning activities and evaluation tools
Work on course content and readings

Meeting 6 (large group):
Group sharing of curricular redesign of courses
Implementation plans for the newly designed course

The study investigated four primary questions

  1. Was C3 an effective tool for faculty development?
  2. Did students emerge from the C3 experience changed as learners?
  3. Did the course revisions result in increased student learning in subsequent course offerings?
  4. Did the effects of the C3 workgroup affect curriculum as well as the culture within the program or department?

Two interesting conclusions
The C3 model has proved to be an effective tool for faculty development.
It nurtured faculty creativity and pedagogical flexibility. It gave faculty permission to start experimenting in their courses as they only “contemplated in the past.” Further, it opened faculty eyes to student perspectives, difficulties, and challenges resulting in new instructional designs or strategies such as flipped classrooms, active learning elements, and experiential learning. Finally, the research team also observed that this process gave faculty a sense of connectedness to other faculty and allowed them to collectively shoulder the responsibility for understanding and improving student learning.

Students emerged from the C3 experience as changed learners.
Changes included a deepened understanding of the course’s subject matter, appreciation of the importance and centrality of course learning objectives, and an increased desire to more actively engage with their own courses. These changes echo what Hutchings (2005) has described as pedagogical intelligence “an understanding about how learning happens, and a disposition and capacity to shape one’s own learning.”

Lasting impacts
Previous work has described the immediate impact to faculty and student; here, however, findings include the long-term impact on faculty and on student learning in the redesigned courses. Results conclude that even a brief faculty/student collaborative redesign experience has lasting impacts on student learning and, in several cases, on program-wide curriculum.

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Collaborative curricular (re)construction - Tracking faculty and student learni…