Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How it might work...

I'm sharing this process with you not so much as "what we will do," but as an example of how things can work.

In my imagining of how I would "teach" in the SUSTAIN experience, I began by imagining what I would like each day to be like as a "teacher".  I left this out of my narrative and I'm sorry I did because it was the driving for my design.

So, I began by envisioning what I want the experience to be like and it looks like this to me:
Notice my criteria under "core experiences." 

Then I began to consider the time of the SUSTAIN "classroom."  We set up a structure that looks like this:

In my model, the pre-noon time is reserved for an additional "course" that is needed for students to progress in their respective majors.  For engineering students, this would be a math course.  The hours of 12-2 have been set aside for students taking ENGL145.  The SUSTAIN cluster of courses is from 2-5 (3 hours per day) for 5 days.  Notice that this is 15 hours of face time, or equivalent amount of time to 3-4 unit lectures + a 2-unit activity;Add in the ENGL course (4-unit lecture) and you now have 16 units; Add in the additional course in the pre-noon hour and your are above the 16.  So, it it likely that any one student would not be taking any more than 4-4 unit lectures + the 2 unit activity.  But the time is blocked as so as an example and to accommodate those who might have a 3-unit lecture + 1 unit lab in the mix of the courses they are taking--the face time can be equivalent for those people.

Now, imagine that you have 100 students in the 2-5 time period.  The will be taking HIST216 + another course or 2 other courses if they are not taking ENGL45.  In my model, this 2-5 time slot would be an open studio format, where students have prepared by working on the foundational knowledge a priori. The open studio time would be used to work on projects, get assistance from peers and/or faculty on more difficult applications or concepts.  There also might be a spontaneous or planned mini-lecture for those who might be struggling with something.  They might use the time to meet in small groups about their projects or meet with the community partner on their project. Or, there may be some other activity designed by the faculty collaborators. The point is that the previous artificial boundaries between the courses that they were "taking" would be removed--the faculty and students in those previously separated courses would be talking to one another. Notice that we are talking about 3 or 4 different faculty people at this point.

This way of working would obviously require a lot of preparation on the part of the faculty, although they would not know entirely ahead of time how things would unfold.  They would have to be agile enough to make course corrections during the learning experience.  How would a faculty member prepare?  For me, the preparation looks like this. 

This all happens before the quarter starts.  Ideally, at the beginning of the quarter, I have constructed at least:
  • The difference between necessary learning objectives (LO)and auxillary (step 3);
  • A preliminary mapping of where LO would fit projects (step 4);
  • A mapped path through resources for self-directed learning through all LOs (step 5);
  • 50% of the self-paced formative assessments to check learning (step 6);
  • An draft idea of the summative assessments I might use.
From having done this in the past, I know that things change as one goes. I know that students make requests in areas where they are confused. I also know that they are really happy to have the freedom to learn when they want to and access to material that takes them forward when they want. 

I've done this with an 8-unit junior level engineering course.  I must remember that students are at a higher level of capability by that time. But I also know that at the lower levels, the material is less challenging. 

In my view, the formative assessments are ideally self-paced and without penalty.  That is, a student can take them, say 3 times, and get the highest grade.  I have also found that without any grade attached to them, they would be very challenged to complete them. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Contraints for the Narrative

Alright all!  Imagine the following:

Imagine that we have 100 freshmen in Winter 2012 who are going to participate in 2 consecutive quarters (I've dropped one because my attention ); See below how this class shakes out.

You are the faculty member. How will you prepare for this thing to work out successfully (however you define that).  Bring a narrative of this for this Thursday if you have the creative spirit to do.  Have fun!

 I've only done 2 quarters to simplify.

Students are from all colleges: CLA (15); CSM (15); CAED (15); COB (15); CAFES (20); CENG (20)
They are engaged in groups of 5-8 in up to 15 different projects selected from the list of available themes posted on the April 15 blog entry.

Winter 2012
Courses clustered: HIST216 (all 100 students); ENGL134 (20 students); ENGL148 (25 students); COMS102 (55 students); PHYS141 (30 students); PHYS121 (40 students); PSC110 (30 students); 2 unit university activity; Priority registration for a course offered in the morning (recommend MATH)

Spring 2012
Courses clustered: ECON201 (70); ECON221 (30); ENGL148 (50); COMS102 (45); BIO114 (100); MATH142(30); MATH118 (20); STAT217 (20) STAT252 (15) STAT 218 (20); 2 unit university activity; Priority registration for a course offered in the morning

The structure of meeting:
Looks a little like the May 2 blog entry on structure.
Monday through Friday, block schedule of 3 hours 2:00-5 PM.
Hours of 12-2 are set aside for faculty who want to meet daily for an hour (e.g., ENGL148).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tentative Matrix of Courses

Here are our results at our first cut of populating the matrix of courses that would make sense to put together. There are several outstanding questions at this point.  Our agreement was to sort of sit with this first cut and see what emerges.  This is a little like putting together a very complex puzzle...one often has to stare for a long time and the different pieces when suddenly it becomes clear how they can go together.

The outstanding questions:
1. What do we do in the disciplinary places where we don't have a known participation (e.g., MATH)?
2. How do we deal with the famous "upside-down-curriculum" that embeds early, specific, disciplinary courses into the freshman year? In these cases, it appears that students will either not be able to participate or that they will have a substituted experience.
3. Doe the economic model still hold?
4. What do we do with the sophomore fall term?

You can click on this image for a better view in your own image viewer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Form of the100-Freshman Experience

We developed a series of models to consider how learning might take place in this experience. Below is a sketch of the most generic version, which can accommodate a range of activites that we might imagine taking place.

I've reframed our conversation a bit into the Kolb learning cycle. This cycle was useful for me as a framework to describe the range of things that we might undertake together.

The qualities of this model of learning are:
1. Whole set of activities is based on the Kolb learning cycle;
2. Students will be engaged in individual versions and groups versions (project) of each step in the cycle;
3. The time is structured to allow self-organization, self-direction, individualized learning ("studio") and guided instruction ("structured");
4. The faculty's main role is creating a path for self-paced learning prior to the projects (won't work for all subjects), formative and summative assessment of mastery of learning objectives, guidance/teaching as needed.

Our next step is to do the detailed work of laying out the exact courses and their sequence, beginning with a winter-quarter freshman cohort.