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.