Archive

Archive for August, 2010

Teaching Open Source Learning Objectives

August 24, 2010 2 comments

My experience is that learning objectives are the centerpiece of program accreditation and review. Although the intention is to be explicit about our student-oriented approach when we design a course and, therefore, always start with stating learning objectives, the reality has shown that students pay no attention to them and teachers kick and scream when they are asked to craft them. Learning sciences and education research have been trying to convince us of the contrary.

One thing I learned though is that learning objectives are of limited help by themselves. The key is to align them with two other indispensable components: (1) assessments to verify that students learn what the objectives claim and (2) pedagogies and interventions that prepare students to learn what the objectives claim. An important ingredient to this alignment is that learning objectives are measurable. I recommend that we add a bullet number #3 where the S-K-A formula is described in Teaching Open Source: How to Write learning Objectives; and list another useful resource, Carnegie Mellon Enhancing Education along with MIT Teaching and Learning Laboratory.

My take is that the TOS book (as we think of it being used in a course) should have around 5 learning objectives, and each chapter should refine the granularity of some of these top-level learning objectives for the purpose of validating the kind of assessments included in each chapter. I don’t think it’s useful to have learning objectives for each section. Or, we should replace those section-level learning objectives with assessments that measure how much students have learned according to the initial learning plan (i.e. learning objectives). For example, we probably agree that ‘apply’ or ‘demonstrate’ are very suitable action verbs for TOS learning objectives. However, to reach this cognitive level, it’s useful to expect students to ‘identify’ and ‘illustrate’.

What I’m trying to say is that scaffolding the learning process needs support from instructional means and assessment means, always in line with our mantra-like learning objectives – we got so far :-). These means are the essence of the book anyway. We simply need to tie them back to what learning objectives they serve.