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Organization and Course Design. A Discussion on this Quality Assurance Course Design Principle Facilitated by: Rosemary Rowlands, University College & Paul Younghouse, Teaching and Learning Center. Is Your Course Convertible?.

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Organization and course design

Organization and Course Design

A Discussion on this Quality Assurance Course Design Principle

Facilitated by:

Rosemary Rowlands, University College


Paul Younghouse, Teaching and Learning Center

Is your course convertible
Is Your Course Convertible?

  • On design, built “from the ground up,” from a recent BMW ad:

A recent example of course design
A Recent Example of Course Design

  • Globalization and World Citizenship

    Username: fdu

    Password: fdu

Ways to participate
Ways to Participate

  • CTLT Dialogues

    The Blog of the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology

  • FDU-QA Wiki – A Work in Progress

I meaningful units
I. “Meaningful” units

  • Implies a kind of audience analysis, and also needs analysis. What kind of audience takes this course? Why do they need the course? What are they expected/expecting to do with the learning at the end? In other words, what outcomes can be expected?

  • This analysis provides the basis for “chunking and sequencing”

Activity i
Activity I:

  • Identify five popular films or television programs you might consider using in one of your courses


  • How do you know that a film or TV program will be meaningful for your students in the context of your course?

  • Are there differences in meaningfulness among the students? For example, majors vs. non-majors.

  • How much would be “meaningful?”

Ii the organizational device

II. The organizational device:

This device is often (not always) discipline-bound and determines the sequence in which the material will unroll over the course of a semester or session.

Some common sequential paradigms
Some common sequential paradigms:

  • Chronological sequencing: History and Literature Survey courses are often sequenced this way from an earlier to a later date.

  • Pyramidal sequencing: Language, Science, and Math Courses are often sequenced this way with a broad foundation being laid for ever more nuanced and difficult operations over the course of study.

  • Enchainment: A number of related units are to be studied or skills developed, but there is no special order in which they must be addressed or presented.

Activity II:Based on curricula in your discipline, program, or department (work with a partner preferably from a different discipline/department):

  • List three courses that require careful pyramidal sequencing;

  • List three courses that can be enchained relatively arbitrarily;

  • List three courses that usually follow a chronological sequence


  • Did you find that any of these courses needed a combination of organizational devices?

  • What kinds of transitions/connections can be made between/among units in these courses?

Iii levels of difficulty and complexity
III. Levels of difficulty and complexity:

  • An excellent guide for considering difficulty and complexity is Bloom’s Taxonomy. Here’s a handy graphic:

Here are some verbs that describe intellectual activity on each level
Here are some verbs that describe intellectual activity on each level.

  • Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce state.

  • Comprehension: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate,

  • Application: apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.

  • Analysis: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.

  • Synthesis: arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write.

  • Evaluation: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate.

Activity iii referring to the verbs in the previous slide and based on one of your classes
Activity III: each level. Referring to the verbs in the previous slide and based on one of your classes:

  • Devise Discussion Board questions or another Performance Task that will permit your students to “betray their mastery of the material” at each of the ascending levels of the taxonomy.

Discussion each level.

  • Share some of your more brilliant questions.

  • How do these questions demand cognitive function at the given level of difficulty?

Iv sequencing the final chapter the stealth factor
IV. Sequencing: The Final Chapter each level. (the Stealth Factor)

  • However you decide a course should be designed and sequenced, there is one rule to keep in mind: Never violate the sequence of Bloom’s guide to the progression of cognitive skills. You can skip a level, but if you go from a higher order skill to a lower one, or if you move too quickly from a lower to higher order task, chaos will ensue. This implies, alas, that we must all be able to synthesize and evaluate our own material.

Activity iv create a mini sequence for a 3 session course
Activity IV: Create a mini-sequence for a 3-session course each level.

  • Choose from among your own courses. Limit the sessions to three modules and provide a performance task for the students that:

    • Demonstrates that they have completed the module;

    • And addresses a higher order cognitive level than the previous module did.

Thank you
Thank you! each level.

We have enjoyed working with you today!


Contact: [email protected]

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Contact: [email protected]