Student-Faculty Collaborative Course Design Workshop Begins

Today was the first day of a new project at the CFE – a Student-Faculty Collaborative Course Design project. The project will continue for three weeks, throughout the entire January Term.

I (Gretchen McKay) learned about this type of thing about a year ago at a conference (see all those conference and travel fees do pay off!). Essentially, students and faculty work together to plan a course from the establishment of learning objectives, to the development of assignments, to the selection of appropriate textbooks and/or readings/films. Faculty bring the experience of the classroom as well as content knowledge. Students bring their experience of being 21st-century learners in the classroom.

I am organizing and leading the project, but will also be developing a new course with two students. Two other faculty members, Sara Raley and Bob Trader, are also taking part. We have seven remarkable students who will learn, but also teach. And we’ll learn from each other. The goal is to have a course syllabus ready for each of the three faculty members; we are all teaching new courses for our respective departments this spring. In many cases, the students involved in this project are also taking the course in the spring semester.

Today we met to talk about basic elements of course design, how we feel moving into this new venture, and what the faculty and students both need to do to move to a place where “power” in the classroom can be a more shared experience. The conversation centered on responsibility for learning and how both faculty and students share that responsibility, and carry it out in different ways. And we talked quite a bit about courses that are “requirements” and student responsibility there as well.

We will meet again on Wednesday to discuss some readings that will (hopefully) give this project some foundational and theoretical underpinnings. All in all, though, I would say we are off to a good start.

Stay tuned!


4 Responses to Student-Faculty Collaborative Course Design Workshop Begins

  1. Robin Armstrong says:

    Can you put this on reality TV? I’d love to watch. I am thrilled that you started off by talking about both power and responsibility.

    can’t wait for tomorrow night’s episode.

  2. Bob Trader says:

    I agree with Gretchen that things went very well today. People opened up in a way that was natural and honest. Sara, Gretchen, and I don’t hesitate to disclose what we are thinking and feeling, and in such an environment other people will also lose any inhibition to disclose (the law of reciprocity in information disclosure – you make yourself vulnerable to me, and I will make myself vulnerable to you).

    A reality show? That would be scary awesome! LOL

  3. Stephanie Madsen says:

    I’ll look forward to hearing more about this one. How did you select these students for this experience? And are you concerned at all about prepping so close to the “go” date?

  4. gretchenmckay says:

    Stephanie, I’ll let Bob or Sara comment, too, but for me, the creation of the syllabus is what we’re after with this collaboration, and that would have to be done this month anyway. For me, I never have the whole course planned – I always come up with new ideas for each class, usually the day I’m going to teach the class. So, it’s working for me.

    So far the students have been fantastic and we’ve had some really open and honest conversations about learning – whose responsibility it really is – and about course design.

    In terms of how we chose these students, each professor was asked to choose 2 or 3. I have two with whom I’m working and I chose one major and one minor who would be here in Jan Term and would take the course in the spring (that last is not a requirement but a plus). I hope — if this goes well — to do more of this in the future.

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