[Report] “Interactive Teaching” Academy: Part 6 “Course Design (Syllabus)”

Here is the brief report of our latest event and a preview of our next event.

“Interactive Teaching” Academy: Part 6 “Course Design (Syllabus)”

Date/Time: November 11th (Sun), 2018, 10:00–17:00
Venue: 93B, Faculty of Engineering Building 2, Hongo Campus
Participants: 21 people
Instructors: Kayoko Kurita (Center for Research and Development of Higher Education, The University of Tokyo)
Lui Yoshida (College of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo)
Nagafumi Nakamura (Center for Research and Development of Higher Education, The University of Tokyo)

1. Topic and Goal
This time, the topic was “Course Design (Syllabus).” Based on the goal, “Reconsider the syllabus as a tool to enhance student learning and be able to create a syllabus,” we set specific learning objectives as follows:
① Be able to explain the significance of course design and a syllabus. (Preparation)
② Be able to create a graphic syllabus for your own class. (The exercise in the first half of the session)
③ Be able to improve the syllabus you have brought into one that enhances student learning (The exercise in the second half of the session)

2. Summary
This program was conducted in a flipped-classroom manner, and participants worked on pre-class assignments beforehand. During the session, they reviewed what they had learned in the preparation and then worked on exercises of creating a graphic syllabus for their own classes and improving a text syllabus.

(1) Preparation
All participants were asked to watch the videos for WEEK 5 of “Interactive Teaching,” read Chapter 5 of the book “Interactive Teaching” (Kawai Publishing, 2017), and submit a text syllabus for their own classes.

(2) Session
[1] Introduction (10:00–10:15)
Participants listened to the explanation of the goals, structure, and rules of the program before introducing themselves to others.

[2] Review of What the Participants Learned in the Preparation (10:15–10:30)
Participants reviewed and organized what they had learned in the preparation through group activities. They reexamined the roles of a syllabus.

[3] Exercise of Creating a Graphic Syllabus (10:30–12:30)
Participants worked on creating a graphic syllabus for their own classes. The activity was to let them visualize whether they were successful in designing a course that enhanced student learning or not and further improve the design.

Participants learning from each other

[4] Exercise of Improving a Text Syllabus (13:30–15:30)
Based on the points they had learned in the morning and the “Syllabus Rubric” (i.e., a tool developed at the University of Virginia to quantitatively/qualitatively assess whether a class design is centering around learning), participants worked on improving their text syllabuses. They thoroughly examined whether their syllabuses, from the whole picture of the course design to minute details, were appropriately designed to enhance student learning by going back and forth between individual work on improvement and group discussion.

[5] Improvement (15:45–16:00)
Participants immediately reflected improvement points/plans they had realized during the morning/afternoon exercises in their syllabuses while they were still fresh in their memory.

[6] Wrap-up (16:00–16:30)
Lastly, participants organized what they learned, what kind of questions they had, and what they wanted to bring back to their own work through group activities and Q&A sessions.

3. Participants’ Reactions
The affiliation of 21 participants was as follows: 11 faculty or staff members of the university or technical college, four graduate students or postdocs, two teachers or staff members of junior/senior high school, one teacher or staff member of elementary school, and three teachers or staff members of vocational school. According to the five-point scale question asking the degree of satisfaction (Extremely satisfied; Very satisfied; Satisfied; Not so satisfied; Dissatisfied), 55 percent of the respondents were “extremely satisfied,” 40 percent were “very satisfied,” and 5 percent were “satisfied.” According to another five-point scale question asking whether participation in the program would affect your future practice (Yes (very much); Yes; No (not so much); No (not at all); Unsure), 39 percent of the respondents answered “Yes (very much)” and 61 percent answered “Yes.”

Here are some of the feedback we received in the comment section:
“I used to write syllabuses partly because it was compulsory to do so, but I realized that reviewing a syllabus leads to class reform.” (Faculty member)
“I had no one to ask for advice in my daily life, so I was grateful for the opportunity to receive comments through Q&A sessions with the instructor and group activities.” (Faculty member)
“I learned the points of creating a syllabus and realized that they are beneficial to both me and my students.” (Teacher of senior high school)

We are relieved to know that the program was appreciated to a certain extent like the past events. We are eager to provide the participants with the opportunities to share their practices and improve our events to satisfy future participants by examining the points we need to improve as indicated in the feedback.

4. Preview of the Next Program
We are planning to hold a two-day seminar on microteaching on March 2nd (Sat) and 3rd (Sun). Details are to be announced. We look forward to your participation.

Videos “Interactive Teaching” JREC-IN website UTokyo FD website
Book “Interactive Teaching” (Kawai Publishing, 2017) (Kawai Publishing website)

Nagafumi Nakamura
(Project Researcher in charge of “Interactive Teaching” / Main Moderator of this event)

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