Course ReDesign Helps Faculty Engage Students

When you walk away from a workshop with clear direction on how to lecture less and engage students more, you can be confident that the professional development was time well spent.

That's exactly how Dr. Dionne Sills Busio, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Child Studies at Appalachian State, felt after May’s Course (Re) Design Institute (CRDI).

Offered by the Center for Academic Excellence, the Institute gave participants the opportunity to learn how to apply research-based teaching and learning principles to course design. Faculty members were able to design or redesign a course built on learner-centered design principles and also develop a final or near-final syllabus.

The Institute was offered as a hybrid learning experience with reading and discussion in advance followed by face-to face meetings.

"I came away with lots of ideas about how to present information better and get more student engagement," Busio said. "I particularly enjoyed learning about student engagement activities such as World Café and Jigsaw and actually seeing them in action rather than just reading about them."

Busio said she was eager to participate in the Institute after an experience where she taught three classes back to back.

"I was losing my voice and that to me was a sign that I needed to talk less and engage students more," she said.

In addition, because she was teaching courses with syllabi developed by others, she was able to look at her courses with a fresh perspective asking "what's the point of this class and why am I doing what I'm doing."

"I concluded that what I wanted my students to be able to do was engage with any kind of family or professional for the benefit of the child," she continued, "so I want to be sure every assignment helps them do that."

Busio is eager to redesign her course assessments and syllabi. She said because she often has students in more than one class she hopes to ask students from previous years if they can detect a positive difference.

This year's CRDI had 18 participants. They will all be able to access additional consults this fall as they work on their course redesigns as well as participate in follow-up meetings.

Center for Academic Excellence instructors for the 2018 CRDI were Dr. Susan A. Colby, director of Faculty Professional Development; Mary Beth McKee, instructional designer; Dr. Lindsay Masland, coordinator for New Faculty Programs and Lillian Nave, Universal Design for Learning Coordinator.