Designing Courses for Higher Education

Designing Courses for Higher Education

Designing Courses for Higher Education

Designing Courses for Higher Education

Synopsis

"Susan Toohey focuses not on teaching techniques but on the strategic decisions which must be made before a course begins. She provides realistic advice for university and college teachers on how to design more effective courses without underestimating the complexity of the task facing course developers. In particular, she examines fully the challenges involved in leading course design teams, getting agreement among teaching staff and managing organizational politics." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Teachers in higher education retain a very significant advantage over teachers in other branches of education: their control of the curriculum. In much of primary, secondary, technical and vocational education, course design has been handed over to 'experts', to the impoverishment of the role of classroom teachers. Yet course design is an advantage of which many teachers in universities seem quite unaware. Much of the creativity and power in teaching lies in the design of the curriculum: the choice of texts and ideas which become the focus of study, the planning of experiences for students and the means by which achievement is assessed. These define the boundaries of the experience for students. Of course the way in which the curriculum is brought to life is equally important, but the power of good teacher-student interactions is multiplied many times by good course design.

Many teachers in higher education work in departmental environments that are quite hostile to good teaching and where little thought goes into the design of the curriculum. Their opportunities to contribute to the design of the courses on which they teach may be limited to those units for which they have responsibility. I hope this book will be useful to them. But the limited impact that is possible in one unit of study running over one semester can be greatly magnified when all of the elements which make up the course of study are designed to support each other. An integrated curriculum provides students with the opportunity to explore key concepts and develop essential skills in the contexts provided by different units. For this reason I have emphasized the design of the programme of study as a whole. This may seem an anachronism with the advent of modular courses. But ceding more responsibility to students for structuring their own education requires greater clarity about what each module can offer and how they might be linked together to form a coherent whole.

All aspects of teaching in higher education are under enormous pressure at present. Pressure to teach more students for more hours, to cut costs and increase income have made it increasingly difficult to teach well. At the same time, there are very good examples of course design appearing which apply much of the most recent research into learning in creative ways. I have tried to . . .

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