Posted by: John Benwell, Principal Advisor, Learning and Teaching, Design and Social Context College, RMIT University.
It’s that time of the academic year when we have to revise our course/subject guides — the details of the course you are running and an important document for students. Independent learners need a menu, a planting guide, a chart, of what is to be learnt during the semester, and how their learning will be assessed. Without a guide, they will not be able to plan their studies.
Clearly articulating your learning objectives and learning activities will allow students to proceed at their own pace and use their own initiative and skills in learning the material you are presenting.
One key field in a course/subject guide outline is the learning objectives. Whilst these high-level objectives are developed and written at the time the program is developed (and at RMIT, are in Part A of the course guide), have you ever thought of creating a subset of learning or key objectives for each lecture/week to help the student study and learn? Perhaps it could be as simple as linking the course objective to the relevant week (or weeks) and unpacking it with your students as you go along.
As tertiary educators, we would hope that all students understand the main topics in the course, but what is delivered each week, and what is meant to be understood and studied should also be communicated. This is easily done in the Part B course guide (at RMIT) with small statements in the teaching schedule outlining each week’s topics. The language of these key outcomes can be the same as the learning outcomes, which usually begin with a verb. The statements should demonstrate a structured approach for students’ learning.
Following on from Helen McLean’s post on Bloom’s Taxonomy and Constructive Alignment, Bloom can also help set a framework for the verbs we use in creating learning objectives by linking them to cognitive actions.
Below is a handy list of verbs you might like to use in constructing or revising learning objectives and teaching schedules. For your lectures, and Part B course guide, think about how you can summarise the lecture content using sentences that follow this framework. Try using several from each section to make sure you have covered the spectrum of Bloom’s Cognitive Objectives in your course.
Keep it handy while you’re planning your course and visit the link below for more information. Good luck for Semester 2!
The list is re-published with permission from Bloom’s Taxonomy, Penn State Learning Design Community Hub:
|Knowledge (Ability to recall previously learned material)||Define
|Comprehension (Ability to grasp meaning, explain, restate ideas)||Choose
Cite examples of
Demonstrate use of
Give in own words
|Application(Ability to use learnt material in new situations)||Apply
|Analysis(Ability to separate material into component parts and show relationships between parts)||Analyse
|Synthesis(Ability to put together the separate ideas to create new and establish new relationships)||Arrange
|Evaluation(Ability to judge the worth of material against stated criteria)||Appraise