Blended Learning Syllabus Example Assignments

Examples of how blended learning has been incorporated into various courses are provided below. For more information please contact Mary Power or the instructors named below.

Pre-lab lectures have been replaced by online presentations of ocular examination procedures that students perform in the lab. Students prepare for the lab by completing online modules and are assessed on their level of preparedness through online quizzes. Many science courses are now using instructional presentations and videos to prepare students for lab experiences. Instructor: Michelle Steenbakkers-Woolley​


Flipping a Math course: MATH 136 (Linear Algebra 1 for Honours Mathematics)

Students have access to all the course concepts through online modules that were developed for the fully online version of this course. They prepare for class by watching about 30 minutes of course content before the start of each week and then come to class to work through a set of problems that address the concepts in the online videos. Students work at their own pace, conferring with their classmates and the course instructor as needed. The instructor notes that students ask more insightful questions when his course is taught this way and he ranks this as his most enjoyable teaching experiences to date. Instructor: Peter Wood.


Supporting problem solving: PHARM 224 (Pharmokinetic Fundamentals)

Class time is reduced as students work independently on foundational course concepts and then work with the instructor on problem solving in a group tutorial. Students access online presentations, do online activities, and receive problem-sets and assignments in the LEARN environment. Once a week there is either a 1.5 hour face-to-face tutorial where the instructor works through an assigned problem set and answers questions, or an hour long "Mighty Minutes" session where the instructor works through difficult concepts. A Help Desk is available every two weeks for students seeking one-on-one help from the instructor. Instructor: Andrea Edginton

See also "What is Blended Learning?", an article in University Affairs featuring Andrea Edginton. 


Online drill and practice activities: GER 201 (Intermediate German I)

In this course, in-class, active learning strategies are supplemented with online drill and practice tasks that are completed outside of class. Although these online modules focus mainly on rote memorization, they provide immediate feedback that enhances the students’ understanding of the material they will be later assessed on. Instructor: Mat Schulze

See also this Teaching Story about Mat Schulze.


Enabling group work in class: PSYCH 340 (Training and Development)

Class time is used for hands-on, authentic group learning activities while foundational course concepts are presented online through recorded lectures (slides with narration). The in-class learning activities help students practice the actual development of training materials and teaching methods, and reinforce the foundational course concepts that students encounter in the online presentations. Students' understanding of course concepts is assessed through weekly online quizzes. Instructor: John Michela

See an example of John Michela's narrated slides on the topic of "Development and Implementation of Training."


Incorporating hands-on activities into class: GENE 121 (Digital Computation)

In this first year programming course given to Mechatronics and Mechanical engineering students, four hours of traditional lectures have been replaced with a series of short, online, mini-lectures that deliver the basic information needed to code programs. The students’ comprehension of the mini-lectures is assessed in LEARN by online quizzes and class time is used for hands-on coding problems. Instructor: Carol Hulls

See also this YouTube video in which Carol Hulls explains how blended learning is achieved in this course.


Incorporating learning activities online: Rec 100 (Introduction to Recreation & Leisure)

Modules from the fully online version of this course are reused by integrating them into the on-campus offering of Rec 100. Re-using these online lectures has addressed some of the challenges related to teaching a large class of mostly first-year students such as: familiarizing the students with LEARN functionality and blended learning; helping students learn to manage their time and workload; and giving the instructor the chance to strategically reduce class time at peak busy times of the term.  Students interact with five online modules, engaging in readings and viewing lectures. The online modules prepare students for flipped classes that integrate Top Hat activities that assess their knowledge. Instructor: Zara Rafferty

See also this YouTube video in which Zara Rafferty explains how blended learning is achieved in this course.


Preparing for an in-depth field experience: Envs 283 (Ontario Natural History)

Students work independently online over a period of five weeks to prepare for the intensive, hands-on, eight-day field course. Each week, they read one to two chapters from a textbook and complete an online learning activity in LEARN; they then complete a corresponding quiz and short assignment. In the field, they apply their new knowledge and also work on a small research project. Instructor: Brendon Larson

See also this Teaching Story about Brendon Larson.

More CTE Teaching Stories about blended learning

Course and syllabus design

Although courses may vary in size, subject matter or level, a systematic process will help you plan and structure your course and syllabus to effectively reach desired instructional goals.  This page provides information that will guide you from the initial design phases of your course to polishing and distributing your syllabus.

CTL is here to help! If you would like to schedule an individual appointment to talk about course or syllabus design please call 206-543-6588 or send us an email at thectl@uw.edu.


Course design

Effective course design begins with understanding who your students are, deciding what you want them to learn; determining how you will measure student learning; and planning activities, assignments and materials that support student learning. For all interactions with students plan ahead by ask yourself:

  1. Who are the students?
  2. What do I want students to be able to do?
  3. How will I measure students’ abilities?

By asking yourself these questions at the onset of your course design process you will be able to focus more concretely on learning outcomes, which has proven to increase student learning substantially as opposed to merely shoehorning large quantities of content into a quarters worth of class meetings.

1. Who are the students?

Before the class begins, find out as much as you can about the students.  Consider the level of your course and the type and level of student that typically enrolls in this course.  If you are new to teaching the course you may want to consult with colleagues who have previously taught the course to gather some of this information. It is also helpful to review your class roster before the quarter starts.  Additionally, the Office of the Registrar publishes a snap shot view of enrolled UW students for a given quarter (click here).

  • Are your students new to the university?  Are they new to the topic of the course or the department?
  • What are students’ motivations for taking the course?
  • What might you expect students to know before the first class?  Consider previous courses they may or may not have taken.  Are the students majors in your department or are they fulfilling a distribution credit?
  • What range of backgrounds and previous experience is typically represented among students in this class?
  • What problems do students typically have with this material at this level?

2.  What do I want students to be able to do?

Once you have considered who the students in your course are, ask yourself what they should be able to do at the end of the course.  Try to answer this question as specifically as you can by using terms that emphasize student abilities you can measure or easily recognize.  For example, it can be more challenging to measure students abilities based on what they may know or understand as opposed to measuring their abilities to preform tasks such as identify, differentiate, apply or produce.  This process will help you solidify your course goals.

Tools that can help you design course objectives:

3.  How will I measure students’ abilities?

Designing your course around activities that are most likely to lead students towards the goals you have defined will help them acquire and retain skills longer.  Some goals can be achieved through listening to lecture or reading assigned texts.  Others may require more active experimentation, practice or discussion.  For example, writing, discussions, field work, service learning, problem solving or small group collaboration.  No matter what combination of activities you choose always keep in mind how the core activity, as opposed to subject content, will progress students’ abilities.

What will provide you with reliable evidence during the course that your students are learning and at the end of the course that they have obtained/mastered the abilities you envisioned at the beginning of the course?  This is the part where you choose assignments, activities and other methods of assessment.  For example, will you have weekly quizzes? objective tests? original research papers? presentations? performances? group or individual projects? Assessment is an important aspect of student learning. Make sure to think carefully when pairing assessments with learning objectives.  For more on assessment design see our Assessing student learning page.


Syllabus design

The syllabus provides the instructor and students with a contract, a common reference point that sets the stage for learning throughout the course.  Make sure that your students have easy access to the course syllabus by handing out hard copies on the first day of class and (if applicable) posting a digital copy on the course website.

Common components included in a syllabus

The form and content of a syllabus vary widely by discipline, department, course and instructor.  However, there are common components that most successful syllabi contain. These components communicate to your students an accurate description of the course including the topics that will be cover, assignments and assessments students will be responsible for, as well as a clear source for policies and expectations.

Course description

  • Course content: What is the basic content of the course and what makes it important or interesting?  How does the course fit into the context of the discipline?
  • Learning objectives: What should students be able to do by the end of the course?  Objectives are most helpful when they are expressed in terms of knowledge and skills that can be readily identified and assessed.  For example, the ability to recognize, differentiate, apply or produce is much more readily identifiable than the ability to appreciate or understand.
  • Characteristics of class meetings:  What types of activities should students be prepared for?  Discussion?  Lecture?  Small groups?  Student presentations?
  • Logistics:  What are the instructor’s and TAs’ names?  How can they be contacted?  How are course materials obtained?  When and where does the class meet?

Course topics and assignments

  • Schedule of topics and readings: What will the main topics of the course be and when will they be addressed?  What will students need to do to prepare for each class?  Most instructors include a weekly or daily schedule of topics they intend to address, along with a list of assigned readings and other course materials.
  • Assignments, projects and exams: How will students demonstrate their learning?  Include learning goals, estimated scope or length, assessment criteria and dates.  Instructors typically include a breakdown, in point values or percentages, of how much each assignment or test contributes to a student’s final grade.

Course policies and values

What values will shape your teaching in the course and what policies will guide you?  Policies and values that you might want to communicate through your syllabus include:

  • Inclusiveness:  How can your syllabus help you create an inclusive atmosphere that welcomes all students?  Some instructors include statements inviting participation from all students, honoring student diversity and differing points of view, or inviting requests for disability accommodations.
  • Integrity:  What are policies and procedures regarding academic integrity and misconduct in relation to materials and assignment for this course?  For example, considering the types of work you are asking students to do, what do you want to communicate about working with data?  representing original sources? accountability for contributions to group projects?
  • Responsibility:  What do students need to know about your expectations regarding assignments, attendance, online participation or classroom interactions?  Other possibilities include policies regarding late work, make-up exams and preparation for class participation.
  • Expectations for success:   How can students learn most successfully in your course?  In your syllabus, you can express confidence that all students are capable of doing well and you can suggest strategies for success.  For example, what strategies for learning are particularly important for this material?  What resources — such as study centers, web tutorials or writing centers — are available to help students succeed in your course?

Information for TAs: Syllabus design

As a TA your responsibilities regarding course design will vary.  However, it is always a good idea whether you’re planning a ten-week course, a 50 min section meeting, or a 20 min office hour, to think about your teaching and learning goals. Plan ahead by asking yourself:

  • What do I want students to learn?
  • What challenges to learning are students likely to face?
  • How can I help students meet those challenges?
  • How will I be able to tell what they have learned?

Have a syllabus

It is a good idea for TAs to provide students with a syllabus.  Use the syllabus to answer questions about your expectations, your role in the course and students’ responsibilities. If you are teaching a quiz section or lab, you may not be involved in the development of the course syllabus. However, your students will appreciate receiving a syllabus providing information regarding the section or lab policies and procedures (info. on participation, email policies, grading details etc…).  Also make sure to include your office location and hours so students know where and when to find you.

 


Additional resources

UW resources

External links

Bibliography

  • Davis, B. G. (1993). Designing or revising a course. In Tools for teaching (pp. 3-20). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • O’Brien, J. G., Millis, B. J., & Cohen, M. G. (2008). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Prégent, R. (2000). Charting your course: How to prepare to teach more effectively. Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
  • Svinicki, M. D., & McKeachie, W. J. (2011). Countdown for course preparation. In McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (pp. 10-20). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Wehlburg, C. M. (2006). Meaningful course revision: Enhancing academic engagement using student learning data. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

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