We asked our students in the student-faculty course design collaboration this question and asked them to come and present their “best” assignment – and to explain why it was so. The faculty did the same.
The students listed very interesting projects and assignments for their “best.” They were in classes ranging from FYS, to SIS, to classes in majors or minor programs of study. What they all seemed to have in common was that the assignments asked them to take information that they had learned in the class, and apply it to some new or different context. At least 6 out of the 10 presentations had this as an element.
We also noted that these projects were all different, and took up a lot of time. We wondered if it was more the “novelty” of the assignment, or truly the chance to apply knowledge. The students thought about that and said it was both. They liked assignments where they could be creative – but wanted to be sure that the got some guidance as they were doing it, whether that be checking in with due dates or help choosing a research topic.
We wondered what a semester would be like if every course, and every project, would be like this. Would the novelty then wear off and such assignments be the same old, same old? No one mentioned papers or exams as being “the best” assignment. Is that because of their nature? Or because there is nothing “new or different” about them? We agreed it was probably a little bit of both.
It was an interesting discussion, and students, when given a chance, really do have a lot to say about their learning and education. Even though it is the C *F* E, I am wondering if there should be more events like this sponsored by the Center, in which faculty and students can talk about learning. This has been a really eye-opening experience – I think for the students as well as the faculty.
Tomorrow we share draft syllabi and discuss the assignments we are thinking of using in our courses.