Reclaiming Course Design as Disciplinary Terrain

Reclaiming Course Design as Disciplinary Terrain Lauren Miller Griffith, Ph.D. University of Arkansas February 13, 2014 Keywords: course design, learning objectives, scholarship Prior to joining the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas, I spent two years at a different institution working as an instructional designer. It was a wonderful experience in many ways, but the title always felt funny to me. At times, I downright resented it. Why, you might ask. I am first and foremost an anthropologist, a rigorous scholar in a traditional discipline who just happens to enjoy and be good at teaching. Having the title of instructional designer seemed to reduce my experience, knowledge of my students, and understanding of my subject to a mere formula. Perhaps that is why I am also frustrated with the various models of “course design” that are promoted by many faculty development professionals. Yes, many of these models do make sense. For example, the notion of backwards design promoted by Wiggins and McTighe is very sound. Start with your learning objectives and work backwards from there to determine the texts, lecture topics, lessons, and assessments that you need to make sure students meet those objectives. Likewise, Dee Fink’s model of integrated course design stresses the interplay between objectives, learning activities, and assessments, which will in turn be affected by situational factors like one’s classroom and teaching context. It...

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