Active Learning: Utilizing Backwards Design To Articulate Learning Outcomes & Maximize Student Learning
In the Active Learning paradigm, the primary roles of the teacher are to carefully articulate learning outcomes, design opportunities for students to practice the skills necessary to become proficient in (or master) those outcomes, and to offer meaningful feedback to students as they learn. Active learning, then, depends on every aspect of a course working together in an intentional way. Backwards design is a key to successful teaching and learning.
This webinar aims to address challenges related to designing Active Learning courses:
- 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
This is the first in a series of webinars focused on Active Learning that will be followed by a future webinar focused specifically on formative and summative assessments. However, each webinar in this series stands-alone.
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.
- 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
- 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
- Online Learning Faculty
- Any educator interested in learning more about backward design for active learning
"Online discussion assignments should be something both students and faculty look forward to when they log into their online classes and/or enhance the learning of hybrid or face-to-face students.. Lets make sure our online discussions are place where faculty get to teach and where students get to learn."
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.
Congratulations to Eric Salahub & Kerri Mitchell for earning Colorado Community Colleges' Outstanding Faculty Award for 2018 for their work on Active Learning!
Here is a summary from Eric:
In early 2016, Kerri Mitchell (ENG faculty at FRCC) and I designed the Active Learning Institute that we've been running at Front Range Community College (the 4th cohort will start in January 2019). This Active Learning Institute is aimed at helping faculty move from the current Transfer of Knowledge paradigm of teaching and learning into the Active Learning paradigm (grounded in current research about how learning actual works in the brain). The ALI has three parts: (1) a semester-long series of 9 sessions along with homework where participant focus on the Active Learning theory, (2) a course redesign where participants create an Active Learning version of a course including day-to-day lesson plans, and then (3) the participants teach their newly redesigned course and work in reflective practice with the ALI facilitators and their colleagues.
This Active Learning Institute has been tremendously successful with as many as 50 applicants for each cohort (Max 12). Further, the ALI participants have, so far, created more than 30 outcomes-based, Active Learning courses. ALI participants have been effusive with their praise for the ALI; many say that this was the best professional development experience they have ever had and that they now fully support the Active Learning paradigm. We are also seeing positive impacts in student success in courses ranging from English to Biology to History to Philosophy to Dental Assisting, Accounting, Math, Vet Tech, and Anatomy and Physiology (among many other disciplines). We have also had Student Affairs staff attend and, based on their work, they are redesigning the FRCC New Student Orientation around Active Learning principles....
Join Eric for his 2-part series on Active Learning!
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You can buy the entire StudentLingo package (50 workshops) or we offer several a la carte options. Unlike a lot of other software companies, we don’t charge per user, so we can work with any budget. We recommend talking to other departments on campus to increase your purchasing power and to share the cost. Also, we do have a pay model whereby students pay directly. If you are interested in learning more about this option, give us a call.
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This is a feature of our platform, but comes at an additional cost. With the admin view, you get access to more advanced reporting, and you have it in real time. With the standard membership, you get monthly reports.
How have other schools leveraged reporting?
- One of our partners, College of Southern Nevada, used StudentLingo to measure learning outcomes. in a study, one class had access to StudentLingo and the other cohort did not. 92% of the cohort with access to StudentLingo earned a whole letter grade higher than the cohort without StudentLingo.
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What is TutorLingo?
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Should the TutorLingo trainings be viewed in any particular order?
No, each training is a stand-alone workshop, and they can be viewed in any order.
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The CRLA is a group of student-oriented professionals active in the fields of reading, learning assistance, developmental education, tutoring, and mentoring. In 1989, the CRLA created a training program that is considered ‘best-practice’ for tutor training. A fews years ago, Innovative Educators partnered with the CRLA to create supplementary training modules. Our training supports learning centers in achieving level 1 certification through CRLA.
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