Designing Assignments that Accomplish Course Goals

Faculty Focus has a post by Maryellen Weimer about accomplishing the desired outcomes for your classes by redesigning your assessments.  She references an example from Paul Hanstedt’s new book where he redesigned the assignments in his writing course.  Hanstedt writes that assessments in general education courses should accomplish three things: 1) contain evidence that students are learning what we want them to be learning, 2) engage students in deep, long lasting learning, and 3) generate student work that doesn’t make us cry when we grade them. (p. 78)

Weimer writes that the Hanstedt’s new assignments were better because:

Designating an audience for each paper forces students to assume authority for their knowledge and take on the task of explaining relevant concept[s] and ideas to others. They aren’t writing so directly to and for the professor as when the audience wasn’t designated. The fact that the audience changes with every paper mirrors what happens in professional life. Professionals must deal with multiple audiences, customizing their message accordingly. Students also need to do research to write these kinds of papers, particularly the third one. And these papers do a much better job of showing the degree to which students understand and can apply course concepts. Finally, they give students the opportunity to make choices that are more personally relevant.

The full post is here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.

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