In last week’s blog, I talked about developing course outcomes and learning objectives. For a quick review, the course outcomes are the skills I expect students to have upon completion of the course. These should be stated in the form of action verbs that are measurable. For example, a course outcome for one of my accounting courses is that students should be able to analyze the financial performance of a firm.
Learning objectives provide the roadmap for how I will help students gain the skills. These should provide the plan for the cognitive development of students. Using the course outcome example in the previous paragraph, the learning objectives would help students to develop the underlying skills needed to analyze the financial performance of a firm, such as calculating financial ratios.
Once I have developed the outcomes and learning objectives, I begin to create lesson plans for the course. The lesson plans should map to the learning objectives. If I have determined that students must be able to calculate financial ratios in order the analyze the financial performance of a firm, I would want to create lessons that would build and reinforce the skill. The number and complexity of the lessons are dependent upon the skill I am trying to develop. More difficult skills sets require more practice. I might want to create multiple lesson plans that start with a basic skill, then create more complex lessons to build higher-level skills.
Let’s consider the example that I provided in the first blog of my grandson learning to ride his bike. The outcome is that he can ride his bike without training wheels (and without wrecking and getting hurt). I would develop learning objectives like (1) peddle the bike with training wheels; (2) steer the bike with training wheels; (3) peddle and steer at the same time with training wheels; (4) balance without training wheels; (5) balance, peddle and steer without training wheels. The lessons would begin with teaching him to peddle the bike with the training wheels on while I steer. Then I would build to have him both peddle and steer the bike, etc. The message here is that the lessons should map to the learning objectives which provide development of the skill.
When courses are developed in this fashion, students can more easily see the connection between the lessons and the course outcomes. Additionally, because there is more focus on the development of skills, students are more likely to build and retain the required skills.
In next week’s blog, I will discuss building assignments that reinforce the lessons.