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Learning Goals Reflection Fa13

December 18, 2013

This was my first semester writing and using Unit-scale learning goals. In the past I’ve written learning goals for a day or a week but this was the first time I’ve written learning goals for an entire unit at the start of the unit and posted those learning goals for students. Overall I think I was successful with the learning goals but some things could have worked better.

What Went Well

1. Writing LGs forced me to take a broad view of the entire unit and map out an arc of how to get from here to there. This helped add coherence between lessons and helped me to emphasize general skills and big concepts.

2. I used the LGs to write exams. For each exam, I sat down with the LGs for that unit and started writing questions for different LGs (not that each question targets only 1 LG). This helped me know that I was getting an even distribution of concepts on the exam and that the questions I was writing aligned with my goals and with the content we covered.

3. Anytime students asked for a review sheet for the exam I pointed them towards the posted LGs. In an anonymous survey following the first exam, every student who used the LGs found them either somewhat useful or very useful for preparing for the exam.

4. At the end of the semester, I gave students the opportunity to reassess on previous LGs for the opportunity to raise a previous exam score. In terms of points, this amounted to reassessing a particular question on a previous exam but using the LGs was a nice way of framing the task and also a convenient way to communicate to students what sort of analogous questions they should expect on the reassessment.

 

What Could Be Improved

1. While I consulted the LGs when writing exams, I could do a better job of looking at the LGs when writing the weekly homework.

2. I wanted to look at the LGs as a class periodically during a unit to see where we’re at and what we’re confused about. This did not happen. I would occasionally pull the LGs out during the class before an exam and discuss them but this was the only time we discussed them during class.

3. I didn’t do very much with the General Skills or Experiential Value LGs. It was helpful for me to start thinking about them and I did occasionally have students take pictures outside of class of phenomena for us to discuss but I want to do more with this. Still, trying to articulate these ideas is a productive place for me to start even if I’m not yet integrating these ideas into class very much.

4. This semester’s LGs were constructed entirely by me. I want to discuss my LGs with other science and engineering professors to help identify common threads between classes and make sure I’m presenting concepts in a way that builds on and extends students’ knowledge from other courses.

 

Overall, I’m happy with this first round of LGs. Over break I’ll be tweaking my Physics 3 LGs and writing LGs for Physics 1. I also plan to look at some of the SEI resources on writing learning goals.

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