Tailor-made course packages give university teachers enormous freedom in course design. Unlike traditional textbooks, course packages can take any form and be tailored to almost any subject, teaching method, or educational goal. These qualities, combined with their affordable cost, make course packages very popular with college educators. Aside from the cost, however, many university students see course packages in a very different light. For students, many course packages are an intimidating maze of text that is very confusing and difficult to navigate. When the course package is a collection of undifferentiated articles or self-contained book chapters without organizational signposts, clear reading guidelines, or chapter headings, students must strive to build the contexts necessary for understanding.
Carefully designed course packages can serve different roles depending on the goals of the instructor. Here are three basic types of course packages, along with brief descriptions of how they might fit the course objectives.
In disciplines where research quickly produces new information, such as healthcare or the natural sciences, it may not be possible to cover as much in one semester as the rapidly changing subject seems to require. In these situations, especially in graduate courses, the instructor often needs to ask students to purchase a collection of materials from the latest published research. Instructors generally treat this type of course pack as a research tool that students can refer to when needed, perhaps even after the course is completed.
If you choose to use a course package as a reference, you should carefully consider the value the content will bring to students in six months or a year, especially versus the cost. It might be more appropriate to use the reference pack as a tool to teach students how to read and evaluate similar material and find more recent material themselves. It may also be better to use parts of articles than articles in their entirety. Not only does this reduce the amount of material and clarify your purpose in making the materials available to students, copying small portions of articles may not require copyright release or payment of royalties.
A professor in a research design and applied statistics course divides the course package into sections. It presents problems and hypotheses from several studies in one section of the course pack, several different designs for different research problems (and for similar research problems) in another section, and study results and conclusions in other sections of the pack. The students see the application of design and method theory, learn to criticize current research in this field and master the forms and protocols of research writing. This type of course package is more valuable for students when doing research outside of the classroom.
Another good use of the reference pack is to provide different materials for different learning groups or “tracks” for students to follow. A Health Policy Law course allows students to study the case law applicable to regulators, hospital liability, nursing home administration, patient rights, etc. The course pack contains case law from each of these areas, and students use different sections of the pack to complete coursework. Because course participants have materials from all subject areas, they can later refer to other subjects as their interests or needs change.
An ethnology professor has developed six topic-oriented field projects as a central part of his studies. The six projects together represent a range of cultural characteristics of the region studied. In the course pack, each of these six field projects is described in detail, including an overview of the subject and related issues and issues in a regional context; a descriptive project objective including strategies and ideas to guide fieldwork; expectations and suggestions for reporting; and an annotated bibliography. While each student pursues only one field project during the semester, the course package provides extensive information and resources on all six subject areas, allowing students to learn about the issues and strategies involved in examining all six cultural characteristics of the region.
In subjects where textbooks do not provide sufficient topic coverage, the course pack can supplement the core text. The most limited form is simply an anthology of articles, individual chapters from other texts, stories, or relevant documents. This type of course package can also provide students with an opportunity to read rare materials that are not available in commercial publications.
In expanded form, the companion pack adds a new dimension to a traditional course. A teacher can use the pack as a counterpoint to lectures and textbooks, with the aim of challenging students to consider different perspectives and sources of evidence. For example, in economics, with careful planning and presentation, a lecturer presenting a theory of stock market analysis could use the course pack to present a rebuttal based on alternative models.
A business professor includes copies of all the overhead transparencies he uses in class, but omits selected portions of the lesson (including solutions to problems) from each printout so that students learn by adding the course pack handouts in class . Students are constantly engaged in the course in a meaningful way and have a note-taking format that perfectly suits the lesson. This technique also allows students to listen and interact in class because they don’t have to frantically copy notes from the slides.
Another strategy, complemented by the use of a companion pack, is a redirection of lesson time from presenting the material to discussing ideas and critical thinking. By creating a course pack that includes photocopies of all instructor notes, media, and other supporting materials that would normally be presented in lectures, instructors can use class time for discussions related to higher educational goals such as analysis, synthesis, and assessment.
In its most integrated form, the course pack is designed to be the primary source of course materials and a guide to the content. It often consists of a selection of reading material, a detailed syllabus with directions for assignments, study questions, problems to be solved, collections of charts and charts for analysis, and practice exam questions.
A case-method based course in which students learn by applying abstract concepts, theories and principles to real or simulated events can be greatly enhanced by the integration of source material and instructional process information. The course manual serves as a guide and resource for problem-solving exercises. In addition to presenting assignments and study strategies, the course manual provides materials from a variety of printed sources, such as newspapers, legal documents, business statistics, government data, photos, court records, network data, manuscripts, and diaries. Students use this information to reconstruct specific topic-related controversies and must suggest ways of solving them.
For example, a public policy analysis professor created a course pack that included case studies on local public policy issues such as: B. the dispute over the construction of a dam to improve the region’s water supply and a controversy over the grades and graduation rates of the university athletes. He used official reports, newspaper and magazine articles, and photographs, and each case study was accompanied by a series of questions for students to answer in preparation for class discussions.
This type of integrated course package is becoming increasingly popular with faculties and colleges across the country. A psychiatric nursing instructor has developed a course manual that includes course guidelines, objectives, daily lesson plans, goals, and instructional strategies fully integrated with reading assignments, handouts, articles, study guides, case studies, group work guidelines, and group assignments. The results of their student evaluation reflect how much the students value their efforts; The ratings for course organization, use of teaching materials, face-to-face exercises, integration of reading and lectures, etc. have increased significantly.
Principles of designing course packages:
– Consider the number of items you’re picking up wisely. A limited and concentrated selection of articles will be more useful and appreciated by the students than a huge collection.
– Provide context for the materials. A table of contents, consistent page numbering, and a general introduction are very helpful in conveying the structure of the course package. Individual introductions to each entry may show the entry’s relationship to the section in which it appears and provide background information that would help the student understand the context for the material.
– Define terms and concepts. Providing a glossary of technical vocabulary and brief explanations of new concepts will complement students’ prior knowledge of the subject and greatly improve their reading confidence, speed and comprehension.
– Build in a reading strategy. The forms of discourse within a discipline require unique reading strategies, and the average student entering university needs guidance on how to read scientific journal articles meaningfully. An introduction to each reading task, explaining the goals and procedures of research in the discipline, the purpose of journals in the disciplines, how journal articles are structured for that purpose, and the use of an abstract if one is available, can speed up the learning process and speed up the work student progress through the material.
– Use clear and legible images. Production quality affects the readability, interest, and usefulness of the course pack. Crop large black borders from text copy to save ink and space for notes. Avoid radical format changes from one side to the other. Cut and paste where possible to ensure the layouts are neat and easy to follow. Resize no more than two pages of text to an 8 1/2 x 11 page. Visual images, such as overhead transparencies and slides, with little contrast between figure and background (such as dark backgrounds) do not reproduce well in course packages.
– Provide study questions for the material. Study questions help students focus on what they should learn from a specific assignment. If students are new to the material, you may need to organize the questions from simple questions that evoke facts, descriptions, and definitions to complex questions that require analysis, synthesis, and judgment.
– Update the course pack regularly. As you will be re-publishing the course pack each semester, try to take the opportunity to review the material and revise it based on student comments on the pack and course. You can also use this cadence to build your course package across semesters, adding new features like the syllabus and other handouts with each semester.
Thanks to Jeff C. Palmer | #Pack #Designed #Primary #Source #Materials