Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

Syllabus Strategies for Interactive Learning by malj


									Syllabus Strategies for Interactive Learning Materials

Strategy       What                            How                                     Why
Thematic       An interesting thematic or      Divide the materials into sections.     Themes provide a sense of the interrelationship of
Organization   topic-oriented structure for    Provide each section with a header      materials, piquing students’ interest and inviting interactive
               the course materials, as        that identifies the theme or topic.     learning within and between the sections. This simple but
               opposed to a flat list of                                               conceptually useful structure supplies part of the cognitive
               readings.                                                               scaffolding necessary for students to build their own
                                                                                       meaning from the course materials.

Diverse        A variety of different types    Link to or list materials relevant to   Different students learn differently. For example, visual
Materials      of materials that can be used   the thematic sections. In some cases,   learners will benefit from maps, images, charts, etc.
               to learn the course concepts    it may be easiest to link to separate   Provide choices so that students can take ownership of the
               and achieve the learning        lists, for materials that are too       content and become more actively engaged, constructing
               objectives. Also a wealth of    numerous to list in the syllabus        their own learning paths.
               supplementary resources for     and/or resources that are reused in
               exploration.                    different parts of the course.

Reasonably     Readings, resources, and        Assign only key parts, such as          Concise readings focused on essential concepts encourage
Sized          assignments that have been      specific chapters or passages that      close reading and active engagement, which lead to lasting
Materials      distilled to their essentials   represent the concepts of the           learning. Long or vague assignment of materials, such as
               and/or broken into chunks       course. Break the material into         reading an entire novel, invite skimming, cramming, or
               suitable for students with      pieces, with critical questions or      skipping entirely, and the result is often fleeting, shallow
               short attention spans.          follow-up tasks associated with each    learning.
Critical       Questions that trigger          Include relevant questions              Challenge students to start thinking about the significance
Questions      student thinking.               throughout the syllabus.                of the materials before they even start using them.
                                                                                       Transform “flat” materials to be “covered” into “deep”
                                                                                       materials to be actively explored.
Rich           Links within the course         Provide links in the syllabus that      Referring to materials from other parts of the course as
Connections    materials and to resources      literally connect one part of the       well as outside the course builds a rich, interactive context
Strategy            What                                 How                                          Why
                    outside the course.                  syllabus to another, to other course         for understanding. Repeated contact with the connected
                                                         materials or activities (such as             materials, especially in light of new concepts, reinforces
                                                         discussion forums), and to outside           learning.
Social        Opportunities for students                 Provide links to discussion forums           Engaging with other students brings diverse perspectives
Learning      to communicate with each                   and group projects related to the            to the materials and provides opportunities for students to
Opportunities other, demonstrate their                   materials.                                   learn from each other. Social behaviors such as
              expertise, and work together                                                            collaboration, competition, and peer pressure make
              for richer understanding of                                                             students’ engagement with the course materials more
              course materials.                                                                       dynamic and provide additional motivations for learning.
Learning            Statements of the goals of           When materials are designed to help          Help students understand the relationships between
Objectives          the course as they pertain to        students achieve specific learning           course materials and learning objectives. Provide them
Clearly Tied        materials.                           objectives, make the connections             with the opportunity to shape their interaction with the
to Materials                                             clear and explicit. State the objective      materials in a way that most effectively addresses one or
                                                         at that point in the syllabus or link        more specific learning goals. Demonstrate why the
                                                         to it.                                       materials are relevant to specific outcomes.
Assessments         Quizzes, self-tests,                 Tailor activities to be explicitly tied      Focus the student’s engagement with the learning
and                 assignments, and other               to specific materials and include            materials by requiring them to engage in activities that
Assignments         activities that require the          these activities at the appropriate          measure and/or demonstrate what they’ve learned.
that Focus          student to demonstrate               points in the syllabus.                      Materials or activities that appear to be random or do not
the Learning        understanding of the                                                              have a clear purpose are more likely to be ignored. When
Materials           materials.                                                                        students set their own priorities, they need to have an
                                                                                                      understanding of exactly which materials and activities will
                                                                                                      help them most efficiently and effectively address their
                                                                                                      learning goals, and then they need to be able to measure
                                                                                                      their progress toward those goals.

Deborah Everhart (, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Georgetown University

Shirley Waterhouse (, Director, Educational Technology, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

To top