Division of Academic Affairs
The end of a semester is a good time to think about changes you might want to make to your courses. In this episode, Maria suggests some guiding questions to ask yourself to help you plan for any revisions.
Hello. I’m Dr. Maria Yon from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Welcome to Teaching and Learning Matters and to this timely episode, Revising Your Course: Questions to Ask Yourself.
At the end of each semester we often ask ourselves, “How can this course be improved?” The following are some questions to ask yourself about changes that may be necessary to the content, the sequence, activities and assignments, or administrative tasks. So, here goes.
Question #1. Have I packed too much content into this course? Sometimes we feel that we should impart everything we know about a topic to our students to the extent that there is no time for teaching anything in depth. Are there any topics that should be taught in more depth than others, requiring more time? If so, there may be topics that will need to be cut or shortened. Which ones?
Question #2. Do I need to revise the topics? Would experts agree that these are the most important or appropriate topics for the course? Are there topics that might be switched out for more current or more relevant ones? In making your decision, analyze topics to make sure they fit your department’s curriculum.
Question #3. Is the required textbook or materials the best for meeting the goals of the course? Are students using them? Review current textbooks and supplemental materials carefully, including materials on the web. Analyze them for readability and for appeal. Students often are choosing to do without textbooks due to the expense. So, consider the value that students will get from the textbook as well as the expense. If you choose to use a textbook, it needs to be an important component of the course.
Question #4. Do I need to revise the arrangement of the course content? Is it in a logical sequence either by topic or category, arranged chronologically, increasing level of complexity, by major concepts and relationships, or by other schemes? Is there a topic that should be introduced first as a way to motivate and engage the student about the course?
Question #5. Are there new technologies that might be included to enhance learning in the course? Today’s students are tech savvy and they expect their teachers to be. So, explore current technologies and keep abreast of the trends and their impact on student learning. Select the ones that you’re comfortable with and complement the goals of the course.
Question #6. Are the graded assignments and assessments reflective of student learning? Whether you give an objective test, an essay test, or have students to develop products, ask yourself if these are the best measures for determining what students have learned. Maybe there’s a better method. Additionally, have you given the appropriate number and types of assignments so that the final grade is a good indication of learning?
Try these questions out soon after the semester ends while you’re thinking about the course is still fresh. Get a jump on the next semester by making the changes. Or at the very least, jot down some notes about what to think about later when you begin to revise your syllabus.
I hope you have found these guiding questions helpful as you think about revising your course. Thanks for listening. Tune in again and remember teaching and learning matters.
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