Reconfiguring Curriculum and Instruction to Teach for Understanding: A Case Study

Reconfiguring Curriculum and Instruction to Teach for Understanding: A Case Study

Kuki Singh (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4658-1.ch002
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This case study illuminates the application of the teaching for understanding and community of inquiry frameworks as complementary heuristics for designing curriculum and instruction in an online undergraduate course for improved student engagement and learning. A self-study methodology utilised predominantly qualitative data. The action research cycle incorporated data from course documents, teaching materials, learning analytics, and surveys, which were thematically analysed and triangulated. Five iterations of the redesigned curriculum were analysed focusing on integration of generative topics, understanding goals, performances of understanding, ongoing assessment, and reflective collaborative communities. The online instructional process was redesigned to build emotional presence, social presence, and teaching presence for improved engagement. The study concluded that the intentional curricula and instructional strategies brought about significant improvements in engagement and learning. Future research will be directed at analysing the curriculum and instructional techniques.
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Teaching Context

The case study represents a course within an initial teacher education degree program offered in the School of Education at a mid-sized Australian university. The course is a 13-week educational psychology subject taught in the first semester of an eight-semester degree program, that is delivered ‘oncampus’ at three locations, and ‘offcampus’ in a fully online mode. The course is hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) (i.e., Blackboard) with each delivery mode administered through a separate course site.

This study is focused on the online delivery mode, which has been available for seven years, and typically includes one 10-15 percent of the course enrolments, averaging between 50-78 students studying online each semester. The majority of students studying online are women and mature aged university entrants (i.e., 25 years +), returning to study after several years, usually engaged in full-time employment, and with no prior experience of online learning. On average, a sizeable attrition of around 10 percent occurs at census date (5 weeks into the semester), mainly due to difficulties in managing competing pressures of work, family life and study. Up to a further 10 percent attrition occurs during the semester, resulting in an 80% completion rate.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Initial Teacher Education: Accredited programs of study offered by registered providers that lead to teacher registration within a particular jurisdiction. Such programs of study are typically four-year degree courses.

Teaching for Understanding Framework: A framework for guiding educators to make deliberate decisions about framing curriculum topics, defining learning goals, designing learning activities, integrating coherent and effective assessments, developing supportive learning communities. Integrating new technologies to improve learning, a component added later, addresses needs in technology enhanced environments.

Community Of Inquiry Framework: A process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) online learning experience through the development of three interdependent components – social, cognitive, and teaching presence.

Online Learning: A course of study that that is delivered to students located remotely, using the takes Internet as an intermediary. It is a means to offer education flexibly and interactively using modern digital technologies.

Instructional Design: The process of using the theoretical knowledge of how people learn to guide the choices of instructional sequences and strategies to meet the needs of learners and desired learning outcomes within a specific learning environment, using available resources.

Curriculum Design: A purposeful, deliberate, and systematic organisation of units of instruction within a course. It specifies what will be taught, the sequence it will be taught in, the learning outcomes, how learning will be assessed, and how the content will be taught.

Engagement: The degree of attention, curiosity, interest, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn, with implications for both progression in a course of study and achievement.

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