Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Our courses need 'process' objectives

Last spring a group of faculty (including me) put a lot of effort into developing detailed descriptions of the curricula of our first-year biology courses. Along with this we developed a list of about 30 learning objectives - abilities we wanted our students to acquire by taking these courses.

Recently we realized that, although we had done an excellent job on the scientific content of the courses, we had overlooked the need to explicitly describe the more general abilities we want our students to acquire. This category would include advanced reading and writing skills, the ability to interpret and design tests and experiments, and such learning skills as the ability to identify the gaps and confusions in their understanding (I think Dick Cheney called these "unknown unknowns").

So on Friday a sub-group of us are sitting down to begin developing these objectives for our first-year classes.

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