Moving Forward Using Backward Course Design

Moving Forward Using Backward Course Design: Alignment of Goals, Instruction, and Assessment

Presented by Dr. Cori Fata-Hartley

Thursday, November 19, 2015 11:30 - 1:30

1425 Biomedical Physical Sciences Building

Abstract How will you approach planning or designing your next course? Many STEM instructors follow a common path—select a textbook, identify the chapters to be covered, develop lectures, and finally, create exams. Instructional design methods such as Backward Design offer a more deliberate approach to course development. Backward Design (Wiggins and McTighe, 1988) is a conceptual framework that emphasizes the alignment of learning goals and objectives, assessments, and instructional activities. In the first stage, instructors develop specific learning objectives. What are students expected to know, understand, or be able to do after completing the course? Next, the instructor must determine what will serve as acceptable evidence that students have met these objectives (assessment). It is only after these first two steps have been completed that the instructor develops materials such as lectures and assignments that help student to achieve the learning objectives. By using Backward Design, an instructor must identify curricular priorities and assessment methods early. When these priorities have been identified and evaluated, the teacher may then apply the appropriate resources and time to the most important concepts and ideas. Workshop participants will be introduced to the principles of Backward Design and will have the opportunity to apply those principles to their own classes.

Cori Fata-Hartley is Assistant Dean for Curriculum Coordination in the College of Natural Science. She completed doctoral studies at the Medical College of Ohio and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Molecular Virology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fata-Hartley joined MSU in 2005 and held appointments in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and served as the Interim Director for Faculty and Instructional Development in the Office of Faculty and Organizational Development before being appointed Assistant Dean. Throughout her career she has participated in fellowships focused on teaching and learning in STEM disciplines including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Teaching Fellowship, New Generation for Scientific Teaching Program while a postdoctoral associate at UW-Madison and the American Society for Microbiology Biology Scholars Program after joining MSU. Her efforts at MSU have focused on improving STEM teaching and learning and increasing the retention and academic success for a diverse group of learners. Fata-Hartley received the 2013 All-University Individual Award for Sustained Effort toward Excellence in Diversity in recognition of her work to promote and foster inclusive learning environments at MSU. As Assistant Dean for Curriculum Coordination, Fata-Hartley plays a lead role in the implementation of the college’s ongoing Biology Initiative, an effort to improve the educational experience students pursuing life sciences degrees. She also works with departments and programs across the college to develop and improve curricula and the connections among them.

Video of presentation