[Sekido’s FFP Journal Vol 3] DAY 3 “Adopting Backward Design in Course Design to Make the Course Easy to Learn”
DAY 3 Syllabus: Syllabus Design and Course Design that Contribute to Learning
・Review of the Previous Session
・Goals and Objectives
・What Is a Syllabus?
・Exercise in Setting Goals and Objectives of a Syllabus
・Course Design (Exercise in Creating a Graphic Syllabus)
・Exercise in Improving a Syllabus into One that Enhances Learning
This time, the class was about syllabus design and course design that contribute to learning.
In the beginning, participants reviewed what they had learned in the previous class in pairs. They explained the seven keywords that had appeared in the previous class in a way that could be understood by novice learners (i.e., those who didn’t take this course) to their partners in turn. I found it effective both for warm-up exercises for the participants and in making them organize their knowledge, so I would like to adopt this activity in my own class next time.
Syllabuses are not only a means for students to choose which courses they would like to take but also something that could enhance their learning, and are an effective tool for the instructors to design their courses; in FFP, we call every session a “class,” and a series of classes a “course.”
Participants first set goals and objectives, then determined how to check whether the objectives are accomplished (i.e., the evaluation methods), and moved on to the content and strategies for the class. Many of the classes that do not contribute to learning seem to decide on the content and strategies before setting goals, objectives, and evaluation methods. In contrast, “Backward Design” refers to setting goals and objectives thoroughly first and then examining how and what students should learn to achieve them.
One of the participants who seemed to have fun in course design activities said, “So what you should do is to design a course that you wanted to take yourself in the past.” I think the words capture the heart of Backward Design.
The art of the course design is said to recognize the points (i.e. expert blind spot) where the instructors (or experts) are capable of doing something unconsciously and so they are likely to consider, “Why can’t students do this?”, to “scaffold” for the students so that they could learn easily, and to gradually remove the scaffolds during the course to let them become independent learners. It was impressive to know that the instructor did remove the scaffold for the participants and let them learn by themselves by allocating more than half of the class time for their activities in this third session of the program.