Aligning Outcomes, Activities, and Assessments- Keeping the End in Mind

When designing significant learning, there are many factors to consider in order to create a successful course. We must focus on creating significant learning environments where students are engaged in active learning activities, and complete forward-looking and self-assessments directly related to the course goals and outcomes to evaluate their learning where they will receive high quality feedback ensuring they know exactly where they stand in the course and why (Fink, 2003). But how do we ensure that all of these components fit together nicely and support each other?

focus on creating significant learning environments where students are engaged in active learning activities

Fink (2003) provides a self-directed guide to creating significant learning.  His findings focus on the backwards design aspect to ensure that all components of your course are related and relevant. Using this step-by-step guide, designing with the end in mind, along with thoughtful planning and preparation, I have constructed an outline for PLCs, one of my favorite classes I teach at Lamar Institute of Technology.

BHAG: Upon completion of this course, students will become efficient PLC programmers capable of collaboratively implementing effective troubleshooting techniques gained through designing, developing, and running an Automation Solution Program used to solve an authentic field-based problem. 

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) is a class meant to help students learn and understand the logic and importance of using PLCs, designing PLC programs, programming the PLCs, troubleshooting the programs, and solving complex field problems utilizing these programs.  These machines are used to automate field processes to increase efficiency and productivity.  The equipment and technology is continuously changing; therefore, the course content must be also.  In this course, I use mostly forward-looking assessments to ensure my students are exposed to as many real life scenarios as I can possibly prepare them for before they are actually out in the dangerous environment.

ensure that all components of your course are related and relevant

Using this design guide, I was able to develop my course focused goals, then design learning activities that will help us achieve each goal.  After my learning activity was developed, I could then decide what type of assessment I could justify using where the students will be able to use the knowledge they have gained within that section, the skills and techniques they have developed in the activities, and/or the assignments they have completed as practice. This process eliminates the possibility of the unjust situations where students are tested or assessed by means in which they have not been exposed to.

References:

Fink, L.D. (2003) A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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