Advancing a New General Education Curriculum Through a Faculty Community of Practice: A Model for Intentional Design

Advancing a New General Education Curriculum Through a Faculty Community of Practice: A Model for Intentional Design

Judith A. Giering, Gail M. Hunger
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4975-8.ch003
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Many institutions of higher education are reimagining their general education curriculum or adding new, innovative programs to their course offerings. Faculty driving such innovation, while experts in their disciplines, often lack experience with instructional design and the benefits it subsequently brings to these types of programs. At the same time, process-driven, traditional approaches to instructional design may not feel relevant to some faculty. In this chapter, the authors describe the Learning Design Collaborative, a new model for instructional design built on the principles of intentional learning, authentic learning, and student engagement. Placed within the context of a faculty learning community, this experience has been used with faculty developing courses for the first-year signature experience of a new general education curriculum. Implications of this initiative suggest the importance of continually evaluating instructional design models, opportunities for implementing the model in other programs, and a relationship with other emerging instructional design models.
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In the course of a few decades, the theory, methods, and approaches to instructional design in higher education have changed significantly. Broadly defined as the process of identifying a learning goal or objective, identifying instructional approaches to meet that goal, and developing media and other materials to support the instruction (Gustafson & Branch, 2007), instructional design integrates theory and methods from areas such as educational psychology, cognitive psychology, instructional technology, media, and communications (Brown & Green, 2006). The evolution of instructional design follows two parallel strands of progress: the rise of instructional media throughout the 20th Century and research into learning theories and how they might be applied to training situations. The two strands came together with the military’s need to quickly train large numbers of personnel during World War II (Dick, 1987). During this time, psychologists and educators used both their knowledge of learning, along with media in the form of filmstrips, in order to develop training materials and procedures for the military services (Reiser, 2001). Implementing a number of approaches and forms of evaluation, psychologists were able to “significantly increase the percentage of personnel who successfully completed the program” (Reiser, 2007).

In higher education, instructional design first became relevant in support of the rise in distance learning. The ADDIE (analyze, develop, design, implement, and evaluate) model (Dick, 1978) quickly became the standard on which numerous models for instructional design in both the corporate world and higher education were built. Hannafin (1992) states, “Despite the proliferation of models and perspectives in systems approaches . . . the differences among models often are related to level of detail, terminology, and emphasis that clearly differentiated foundations, assumptions, and learning paradigms.” While ADDIE and similar models worked well with behaviorist and cognitivist pedagogies, by the 1990’s researchers began to focus on constructivism as a basis for new models of instructional design. One such model, authentic learning (Herrington, Reeves, and Oliver, 2007), contributed heavily to the study described here.

Today, instructional design is understood as both a discipline that has a body of research and a process through which instructional materials and learning experiences are developed. The success of any instructional design model must be investigated with an understanding of the context in which it is being applied. While research and the experiences of practitioners provide evidence of the effectiveness of extant instructional design models, in their work at a liberal arts college that is part of an R1 university, the authors struggled to anchor any of these approaches. Faculty did not see the process as relevant to or integrated with their disciplines. They had some skepticism about research from a field they were not familiar with. Perhaps most importantly, they questioned a process that reduced (they felt) the process of designing a course to a series of predictable steps, something that seemed to undervalue their own knowledge and experience in their fields. It was in an effort to elicit the most effective practices and methods of instructional design from the research and bring them to bear in this specific context that researchers developed the Learning Design Collaborative (LDC), a process that integrates instructional design with a faculty community of practice. In this chapter, the authors share the model underpinning the Learning Design Collaborative and point to future applications for it in higher education. Finally, we describe implications of this work for other practitioners and researchers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Engagements: Courses that comprise the first-year signature experience that is part of the general education curriculum at a liberal arts college within an R1 university, including engaging aesthetics, empirical and scientific engagement, ethical engagement, and engaging difference.

Intentionality: Development of instructional activities that are designed to aid the faculty member or subject matter expert consider how to create both a learning environment and class ethos that invites students to be intentional learners.

Authentic Learning: Learning that is designed to be student-centered using the elements of authentic context, authentic tasks, and authentic assessments. The curriculum or course that is designed mirrors the real-world academic thinking of the field or discipline. Students produce artifacts that are meaningful and relevant.

General Education Curriculum: A set of courses that represent a body of knowledge and set of skills that faculty desire students to know and do in preparation for disciplinary study. Often the curriculum includes a breadth of courses across many disciplines and/or courses that focus on higher-order skills such as critical thinking or integrative approaches to learning.

Design-Based Research: An iterative approach to research focused on real-world practice and application and improvement of learning design.

Learning Design Collaborative: A model for instructional design that is based on the principles of intentional learning, authentic learning, and engaged instructional practices. The model is delivered in a faculty community of practice that embodies the same principles for supporting faculty as they design new courses.

Student Engagement: The interactions (instructor-student, student-student, and student-content) and environments which prompt students to demonstrate interest in their learning, become active learners, produce work with original thinking, reflect on that work, and share it in some private or public way.

Instructional Design: A field that encompasses both disciplinary research and the practice of developing curricula and courses. Numerous models exist to guide the process of creating learning objectives, activities and assessments, selecting content, and incorporating instructional strategies.

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