Developing unit of study content

Designing unit content

Start with the end in mind.

  • Consider backwards design: starting a unit of study planning by describing what the students should be able to do when they have completed the unit of study. Consider clearly prioritising key outcomes.
  • Assessment drives learning: consider how and when to assess each of the key knowledge and skill areas students should have learnt.
  • Identify what the students will need in order to do well in the assessment tasks. The need can be an experience like a lecture or an exercise, or a resource like a book chapter or recorded presentation.
  • Consider how the different skills and knowledge areas relate to each other. An effective design allows students to expand their knowledge as the unit of study progresses.
  • eLearning tools offer ways to deliver information, communicate effectively, provide feedback, and make assessments interesting.
  • Consider if parts of the content could be delivered flexibly online.  Identify opportunities for students to work together in pairs or groups effectively.

Why

Linking all aspects of a unit of study helps students experience synergy between their different learning tasks. Through this synergy they are able to learn effectively and enjoy their learning.

Motivation to complete learning tasks is enhanced by understanding the value and meaning of what is being learned.

Peer learning is effective when students are given a meaningful problem or challenge to work through together.

eLearning is a way of structuring the unit of study and creating appropriate spaces for different activities. Planning eLearning into a Unit of Study early will create a seamless learning interface for students, where they can confidently navigate between different learning modes; individual, collaborative and interactive.

Examples

  • Consider what would be acceptable evidence for students to have developed the skills and knowledge at the end of the unit of study.
  • Then consider what assessment methods could be used to capture that evidence. To avoid assessment fatigue, it is helpful to group assessment methods when possible.
  • Using post-it notes, write each outcome students should be able to do at the completion of the unit of study. Group them together to create a manageable number of outcomes and organise groups until the content forms a coherent whole. Overall unit aims may suggest groupings of topics into a few themes for the unit.Consider how these groups would form weekly content titles and learning activities.
  • Consider using ReView, a tool that allows you to align assessment criteria to program learning outcomes (via graduate attributes) to make outcomes assessment easy.
  • Peer learning, which is an effective form of learning, can be facilitated through eLearning (for example, using SPARK).
  • A balance of individual and group activities is often found in combining individual and group tasks. For example assessing individually the pre-group-work reading task will promote accountability and fairness of completing a group task.
  • Consider electronic outputs for groupwork. Students could create blogs, wikis or videos as their groupwork assignment. These could be shared on Blackboard and included in a process of giving peer feedback.
  • Consider creating key lecture content online. This may help with creating collaborative learning opportunities during class-time and support non-English speaking students. Recording can be done at the desktop and can include powerpoints/video.
  • When teaching the first time, when possible contact previous year's coordinators, lecturers and tutors for their inputs in developing content.

Further resources