Work on AU18 Courses Begins! Some Easy Places to Start with Great Impact (Part 2)

All masters for AU18 core and elective courses are ready for your edits! As a reminder, masters shells are used for getting your courses ready between offerings; currently, OTL refreshes the masters before each offering so they have the latest template, as well as content from the most recent offering of your courses for you to work from. Do let us know as soon as possible if you would like to use Carmen for your graduate courses as well!

Here are some important dates that are coming up:

  • July 15th: Spring course Team Reports due
  • August 1st: Autumn syllabi due
  • August W1 – W2: Autumn masters finalized and loaded into semester shells

The summer is a great time to work on projects (with us)! We’ve offered some low-effort but potentially high-impact project ideas in Part 1 of this series … and we have even more for you in Part 2!


Back to the Basics: Start with the Team Report

The post-offering team report is a good opportunity for you and your team to reflect upon how your course went: what worked, what didn’t quite work, how did the students respond, what can be even better yet, and so on.

In terms of overall course design, the following questions may be relevant:

  • Are your course goals and objectives still accurate? One way to approach this question may be to consider how well they support the latest industry expectations of day one veterinarians? Some courses, especially those earlier in the sequence, may provide such support indirectly by targeting foundational knowledge, skills, and so on. Sometimes, your students may need a little bit of help seeing the relevance of your course or your class session – this may be a good place to start tackling this need.
  • How well do your contact hour outcomes support your courses goals and objectives? Adequate alignment of contact hours is essential for achieving the overall goals and objectives of your course, and often helps with the (sometimes difficult) decision of what should be specifically targeted, and what should be supplemental. Here are some tips for writing learning outcomes.
  • How well do your assessments evaluate your students’ achievement on your stated learning outcomes? The content and format of your assessments should be aligned with your outcomes. For example, a multiple-choice question on what is considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may not be appropriate for “explain the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)”, but would certainly be for “list common PPEs in veterinary practice.” Here’s our collection of resources on developing assessments.

As you review your student evaluations as part of the team report project, you may come across additional themes or ideas that you may want to explore or discuss further. Feel free to reach out to OTL for a conversation!


Examine Your Existing Assessments

Depending on your course design plans, you may decide to reuse your existing assessments and exam questions – but there is always room for improvement! In addition to alignment, some other suggestions include:

  • Rubrics that are well-constructed make it clear to all of your students what your assignments and/or assessments expect of them, and can make grading exponentially easier for you. For example, we have worked with instructors on constructing analytic rubrics for writing assignments, and the Spring 2018 Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) were graded on rubrics as well. We have a section on our website regarding rubrics in terms of transparency, reliability, and efficiency, including a recent blog post.
  • The summer is also a great opportunity for you and your team to review/revise your test questions in Carmen and/or ExamSoft. Testing is most appropriate for foundational knowledge and lower-order thinking skills, but it is not impossible for a well-written question to target something more advanced, such as application. We recently hosted a faculty development session on writing test questions and item analysis, and we are currently brainstorming recommendations regarding the process of writing test questions, which we will share in a future update.

Re-imagine Your Contact Hour

Continuing the theme of alignment, the learning materials and activities in your course should support your students’ achievement on the assessments and, in turn, your learning outcomes. This is not to suggest “teaching to the test itself” – rather, the alignment helps to ensure that students are provided the information as well as experiences that they need.

In many cases, aligning materials and activities may present opportunities to re-imagine your contact hour; for example, you can assign review materials and knowledge check activities to be completed by students before each class session, and reserve class time for discussion, elaboration, and/or application:

  • Carmen and Top Hat are great tools to implement your out-of-class experiences. Options in Carmen include modules, assignments, quizzes, and discussions; options in Top Hat include file uploads, interactive pages, questions, and discussions that can either be assigned for review or for homework.
  • During a class session, Top Hat is a great tool for quick knowledge checks and discussions. In addition, the Center for Teaching and Learning at Yale University provides a list of active learning strategies that you can implement to further engage your students in thinking and doing.
    • As we work with our Clinical and Professional Skills Lab (CSPL) partners to design and develop the learning units, we have also been brainstorming activity ideas that takes advantage of the new space.
    • In the meantime, the Wenger Lab is an existing space that is optimized for active learning, equipped with movable furniture and computers/screen for group work.
  • Lastly, the portability and versatility of the iPads presents opportunities for learning activities in terms of interactive / multimedia content, digital creation, as well as collaboration. We’d love to talk with you if you have ideas!

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