Creating Effective Curriculum Facilitation Guides and Lesson Plans for Staff
Once you have decided on your educational priority, learning goals, narratives, and learning outcomes, and developed rubrics, it is time to begin putting these educational objectives into action through strategies. Strategies are the vehicles for educational delivery. They can include activities such as programs and events, newsletters, and guided community or individual conversations. Facilitation guides function as the “lesson plans” for delivering these strategies. By developing facilitation guides, educators can ensure consistency. This includes consistency across different facilitators and over time, from month-to-month or year-to-year. Because of this consistency, facilitation guides also provide an opportunity for continuous refinement and improvement of these strategies over time.
A department or division that has a fully realized a curriculum will have a catalog of facilitation guides upon which to draw when executing their educational plans for the academic year. Facilitation guides function exactly as their name would suggest. They are detailed plans that provide all of the information necessary so that anyone with the appropriate level of training and skills could execute the planned strategy. Although the structure of facilitation guides can vary across campuses and departments, at their most basic level, facilitation guides typically contain the following information:
A title provides a name for the facilitation guide and is reflective of what it is about. Because departments may have many facilitation guides by the time they fully execute a curriculum, it is sometimes useful to determine a consistent naming scheme for these guides. For example, something like “FG 30: Alcohol Education Workshop 1” will give some context and provide shorthand indicators that can keep your organized.
The strategy type indicates the method of execution. This could be an “intentional interaction,” a “program,” a “roommate agreement,” or some other form of strategy.
For each facilitation guide, you should identify who the target audience is. Perhaps this facilitation guide is intended for first year students, second year students, or graduating seniors. It may also target certain sub-demographics, like first generation students, or students with specific majors. Finally, if you work in residence life, you may wish to identify if this is intended to be executed for a floor-level community, hall-level community, or to the campus as a whole.
Relevant Learning Goals and Outcomes:
Because of the cascading and nested nature of the curriculum, each facilitation guide should be associated with specific outcomes (and therefore goal areas) from your curriculum. By establishing this connection, strategy-level assessments can be summarized and associated as evidence of the achievement of your curriculum’s overall learning objectives.
Specific Strategy Outcomes:
In addition to specifying which curriculum outcomes the facilitation guide addresses, the facilitation guide should have its own, strategy-level outcomes. These outcomes should be highly specific and measurable. (For example, “Students will be able to recall three ways….”) These outcomes should include micro knowledge and skill indicators that are specifically addressed though this strategy. The outcomes should be testable, tied to the audience being addressed, and promote movement along the learning rubric you’ve developed for each of your curricular goal-outcomes.
This will provide an overall rationale for the activity. Why is it being done? How does it fit into the overall curriculum? Why is this important for students?
Planning and Preparation:
This section should include all of the necessary materials and supplies one would need to gather in order to execute the activity. This can include purchasing or procuring items such as index cards, AV set-ups, etc. Preparation may also require one to read an article, review some facilitation strategies, or make contact with key partners.
The facilitator guide sub-section provides a step-by-step breakdown of all of the key components of the activity. This includes detailed instructions on how to execute the activity in-the-moment. It may also include some options or choices that go beyond the baseline learning that is expected to occur during the execution of the strategy. This is likely to be the longest section of the overall facilitation guide.
Specific assessment measures should be identified, explained, and tied back to the strategy learning outcomes you have identified. This may include a follow-up survey or quiz, a pre-test/post-test design, or a quick review and check for understanding. Information should also be provided about where this will be logged or how it will be utilized after the strategy is complete.
The prior example provides some of the basic characteristics of a facilitation guide that you may wish to include in your own guides. In contextualizing this for your campus, you should be mindful of who your facilitators are and what will best set them up for success. In some cases, these facilitation guides are developed for execution by student staff members, and therefore you may wish to add additional detail that can help advise your staff.
You may also want to guide members on how to use their creativity (within the confines of the required components) to engage students. Just because the facilitation guide contains required details does not disallow a facilitator from using their own unique skills and abilities to add to the core of the learning activity. It should be universally understood, however, that adherence to the minimum required components of the facilitation guide is what will ensure consistency in the curriculum and provide an opportunity for improvement informed by assessment.
- How will you set up a consistent naming convention for your facilitation guides?
- Who is your audience of facilitators and how might you make these guides most relevant and useful to them?
- What are the key details you need to include to ensure learning occurs?
- What assessment measures will you use in each strategy to ensure learning has occurred and provide feedback about the activity’s execution?