Backwards Design For Multimodal Active Learning To Maximize Student Success (2-Part Workshop)

On-Demand Training

$ 645.00

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These webinars aim to address challenges related to designing Active Learning courses and formative and summative assessments.

  • While talking about course learning outcomes is commonplace in education, many teachers face significant challenges with articulating these outcomes in an authentic and actionable way
  • Once outcomes are articulated, teachers often fail to "unpack" their course outcomes sufficiently in order to uncover the cognitive skills necessary to achieve these outcomes
  • It is often a challenge to properly differentiate the "content" of the course with the "learning outcomes" for that course and to recognize the relationship between "content" and "outcomes"
  • It can be a struggle to move from a course designed haphazardly around content and topics toward a more comprehensive, scaffolded design aimed specifically at student learning
  • Teachers sometimes struggle to design homework (out-of-class work) and in-class activities that allow students to practice the skills necessary to achieve the course learning outcomes
  • Teachers also sometimes struggle to find enough "teachable moments" where their feedback can make the most difference in student learning
  • Students often fail to see the relevance of their homework and, so, they are not fully prepared to excel in the in-class activities that their teacher has prepared. Thus, students often miss out on the chance to open up "teachable moments" where their teacher can really help them learn
  • In addition, this webinar will address challenges related to summative assessments:
  • Teachers sometimes struggle to properly match the practice students get during class and while working on their own with the tests, projects, or papers used to assess what the student eventually learns

Key Takeaway
In the Active Learning paradigm, the teacher's primary roles are to carefully articulate learning outcomes, design opportunities for students to practice the skills necessary to become proficient in (or master) those outcomes and offer meaningful feedback to students as they learn. Active learning, then, depends on every aspect of a course working together intentionally. Backwards design is key to successful teaching and learning.

Students learn when they have many opportunities to practice important skills and develop robust networks of memories that connect newly acquired skills and knowledge to what students already know. In an active learning course, the teacher's primary job is to design formative assessments that allow students to practice skills and make connections and then to use these "teachable moments" to offer feedback to steer students toward efficient and productive learning. Teachers, then, need to design authentic and relevant summative assessments where students can showcase what they have learned.

Part 1: Backwards Design for Multimodal Active Learning
On-Demand Training 

This webinar is Part 1 in a two-part series focusing on maximizing student success in all modalities through Active Learning course design. Part 1 introduces the concept of Active Learning and focuses on the first critical step in an Active Learning backwards design: Articulating course outcomes.

Active learning is becoming a popular catch-phrase in education but it is much more than a fad or a bunch of "tips and tricks" on how to get students engaged in class. Active Learning is nothing less than a full-fledged paradigm shift in teaching and learning. This evidence-based approach is grounded in research about how the human brain learns and calls for significant changes to the way college courses are designed and to the roles of students and teachers in these courses.

After exploring the context of the emerging shift in education away from the Transmission of Knowledge paradigm toward the Active Learning perspective, we will focus on the cornerstone of Active Learning: Backwards Design. Backwards design uses carefully articulated course learning outcomes as the basis to create a course that includes the necessary opportunities for practice, assessment, and feedback that will foster real learning and student success.

The first challenge presented to participants in this webinar will be to analyze the relationship between the "content" or topics of a course and the learning outcomes for that course. Then, we will focus on the process of developing meaningful and worthwhile course outcomes and unpacking these outcomes to uncover the "hidden" cognitive skills required for students to become proficient these outcomes.

A backwards design lesson planning guide will be presented and we will use this framework to build in practice and feedback on the cognitive skills and broader learning outcomes. The main focus will be on the design of both out-of-class and in-class work so that each element sets up the next in a way that scaffolds the learning to allow students to gain proficiency with skills and, eventually, demonstrate mastery with important learning outcomes.

This webinar will take an "active learning" approach so participants should expect to watch and listen but also to write, think, and communicate with the presenter and each other during the webinar. Case studies will be presented but participants are encouraged to think about and work on a course that is relevant to them during the webinar.

Part 2: Backwards Design for Multimodal Active Learning
On-Demand Training

This webinar is Part 2 in a two-part series focusing on maximizing student success in all modalities through Active Learning course design. Part 2 focuses on steps 2 and 3 of the backwards design process for Active Learning: formative and summative assessments.

The Active Learning paradigm transforms the teacher's role from that of the content expert and "sage on the stage" lecturer into a course designer and learning facilitator whose goal is to create in-class and out-of-class experiences where students have the opportunity to practice relevant skills and build a network of connections between memories that cash out in real learning. This webinar will focus on the interplay between the daily in-class and out-of-class work students do, the feedback they receive from these intentionally planned "teachable moments," and the ways students are allowed to showcase what they have learned.

Participants in this webinar will consider several pedagogical approaches to formative → summative assessments with a focus on formats that fit within an Active Learning approach to teaching and learning. The webinar will present about 10 active learning formative assessment frameworks that can be modified and used as in-class and/or out-of-class work; these assignment types can be modified for use in courses across the disciplines from humanities and social sciences to STEM as well as CTE-type courses. Webinar participants will also consider various types of summative assessment that can fit into an active learning class.

A backwards design lesson planning guide will be used to build in formative practice and feedback that will lead, intentionally and authentically, to summative assessments where students can demonstrate what they have actually learned.

This webinar will take an "active learning" approach so participants should expect to watch and listen but also to write, think, and communicate with the presenter and each other during the webinar. Case studies will be presented but participants are encouraged to think about and work on a course that is relevant to them during the webinar.


  • Explore and define the Active Learning paradigm by contrasting it with the "transmission of knowledge" approach to teaching and learning
  • Contrast course "content" or topics with the learning outcomes for that course and consider the relationship between content and outcomes
  • Consider learning outcomes including program/degree outcomes, course-level outcomes, unit and assignment outcomes, as well as teacher-specific learning outcomes
  • Assess and address criticisms associated with an outcome or standards-based approach to teaching and learning
  • Unpack outcomes into relevant cognitive skills that students need to practice and become proficient with
  • Note the importance of carefully articulating the relevant learning outcomes for the course and practice "unpacking" important learning outcomes to identify the cognitive skills that students need to practice and become proficient with
  • Define both formative and summative assessments and note that "assessment" refers to both the assignment itself and what students and teachers can learn from reviewing the completed assignment
  • Explore the idea that the main roles of the teaching in an Active Learning class are to design relevant formative assessments and to offer meaningful and timely feedback to students on these assessments.
  • Consider that the only way to make sufficient time for students to practice important skills through formative assessments is, probably, to cut down on lectures and understand how students can learn more when the teacher does "less"
  • Challenge negative associations with "teaching to the test" and entertain the idea that a properly designed course will, necessarily, use in-class and out-of-class work to prepare students for success on summative assessments
  • Investigate and discuss several formative → summative assessment schemes
  • Learn 5-10 Active Learning formative assessment techniques that can be adapted to any course and used in-class and/or out-of-class
  • Consider the sorts of summative assessments that make the most sense in an Active Learning class.
  • Engage with case studies related to backwards design
  • Practice working with a "backwards design" flowchart and course design template focused both on what students and teachers do in and outside of class
      • K12, 2-year & 4-year institutions
      • Academic Affairs/Instruction
      • Faculty (full and part-time)
      • Deans of Instruction
      • Department Chairs
      • Online Learning Administrators
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      • Any educator interested in learning more about backward design and summative assessments for active learning
      Eric Salahub

      Both workshops will be presented by:

      Eric Salahub has been at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins Colorado since 1999 where he teaches philosophy and serves as an instructional coach. In his coaching role, Eric has worked with hundreds of teachers helping them improve their craft in face-to-face, online, and hybrid classes.  Over the past 5 years, Eric's main teaching and research focus is in Active Learning and he is the co-creator and director of the Active Learning Institute.  In 2018 Eric was named the Colorado Community College's Outstanding Faculty and in 2019 he was awarded the Jerome Wartgow award for Excellence in Teaching with Technology.

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