Planning & Implementation

The analysis stage is intended to reveal areas for potential improvement in the curriculum which could result in curricular change. Before discussing opportunities for change in specific courses, it is recommended that the unit consider an overall pedagogical strategy for the program. Are there specific teaching methods the unit would like to be consistent throughout the program? For example, perhaps it would be beneficial to establish a consistent use of case-based assignments through key courses to give students the best chance to develop certain skills. Or, perhaps the unit would like to provide opportunities for reflection in several courses to ensure students are thinking about their learning as they move through the program.

Depending on the nature and scope of any gaps and/or redundancies identified through the analysis, it is possible there will be opportunities for course changes identified at one or more course-levels in the program; from a relatively minor change such as an adjustment to an assessment in a key course, to a significant change such as a complete overhaul of the curriculum sequencing and the creation of new courses. Deciding on the scale and scope of change involves balancing the needs identified through the analysis process and the availability of resources and time for supporting the change process. This decision-making process should be an open and collegial one with broad consultation among all faculty within the unit, but particularly among faculty responsible for delivering the elements of the curriculum under review.

Once a decision has been made as to the scope and scale of proposed changes, the pace of change is the next important factor to consider when developing an implementation plan. While it is tempting to consider making the changes all at once, it will likely be necessary to prioritize what changes are made first, especially if the changes are substantial. Course development and redesign are time-consuming, and the unit may not have the resources needed to develop/redesign a suite of courses simultaneously. As a result, it is helpful to prioritize the outcomes that are most important for the program. For example, if students’ communication skills are the most pressing concern raised through the review process, it may be worthwhile to focus on making course changes related to that outcome(s) first. Alternately, if there are two or three courses where several changes are needed to support multiple outcomes, it may make sense to start with those courses first.

 

UTQAP Connection

If the timing works, a UTQAP external review can be a good opportunity to receive feedback from colleagues at peer institutions on your prioritized plans prior to governance approval and implementation.

 

Consider the Scandinavian Department. In the previous stage the department discovered that students would benefit from more opportunities to develop their skills in the mid-level courses. Given that, the faculty have decided to add research components to some pre-existing courses, and add a required research methods course to the program as well. Here is what a brief outline of that plan might look like:

Course: Course203
Situational Factors: 150-200 students, in-class lecture course, TA-run lab session
Current Teaching Methods & Assessments:

  • Lecture on research strategies
  • Class discussion
  • Weekly quizzes
  • Mid-term and final exams

Potential New Teaching Methods & Assessments:

  • Add library session in week 2 or 3 where students learn how to search databases and select quality sources
  • Add annotated bibliography assignment with exemplars

Course: Course302
Situational Factors: 50-80 students, in-class lecture course
Current Teaching Methods & Assessments: 

  • Primarily lecture and class discussion.
  • Midterm and final exams, along with student group presentations

Potential New Teaching Methods & Assessments:

  • Add weekly multiple choice question creation assignment (which requires students to cite a new resource related to the week’s lesson, along with the question)

Course: Course304
Situational Factors: 80-100 students, combination of in-class lectures and online component
Current Teaching Methods & Assessments:

  • Primarily lecture, in-class discussion, online discussion board, online quizzes

Potential New Teaching Methods & Assessments:

  • Add weekly resource share to discussion board – students choose a resource, explain its value, and each student must select two classmates’ sources to read and respond to

Course: Course306
Situational Factors: 30-40 students, in-class lecture
Current Teaching Methods & Assessments: N/A – New Course

Potential New Teaching Methods & Assessments: Major research assignment

  • Students submit a research proposal with thesis, preliminary works cited – peer-reviewed during in-class workshops
  • Students workshop draft of research paper
  • Submission of final 15-page paper with 10+ sources 

Signature Pedagogies

Originally developed for consideration in professional programs, signature pedagogies refer to ways of teaching and learning that are representative of a given discipline – for example, the use of daily rounds for medical students, or the specific form of the Socratic Method used in law classrooms. Consider whether the unit’s discipline has (or should have) a signature pedagogy that could be built into strategic courses in the program. A starting point for determining signature pedagogies is to consider whether there are any defining characteristics or modes of behaviour from the unit’s discipline. For example, in a creative writing program, the use of peer workshops is a signature pedagogy, as it mimics the editing and revision process of the publishing industry.