When getting started in developing a curricular approach to student learning outside the classroom, there are a number of different terms and concepts that are used with which one should become familiar. Many of the terms used have been systematized over time, particularly by the faculty of ACPA’s Institute on the Curricular Approach. However, some of the terms may be used differently in practice at various institutions. Regardless of whether you call something a learning goal, a learning outcome, or a learning objective, what is more important than the actual word is that… Read More
An important concept in developing intentional learning experiences for students is the idea of the “cascade.” Much like the successive steps of a waterfall, as water flows from one plateau to another, learning goals and outcomes in a residential curriculum should flow from more general statements of educational priority down to more specific and measurable student-level outcomes. Cascading goals can also be used for a number of different purposes outside of a curriculum, including staff development and and departmental planning. The key to these processes, however, is to create links to ensure that all… Read More
One of the bedrock concepts of designing residential curricula and learning plans is the ability to write effective learning objectives. Writing effective and measurable learning objectives, however, is often more difficult than it may seem. The deeper one delves into learning theory and curricular design, the more nuanced one realizes these concepts are.
When thinking about my own experience in developing a residential curriculum, I’m reminded of a wordsmithing session I had with some colleagues. We were attempting to set some broad learning goals for our curriculum and we wanted to ensure that our language encouraged critical reflection but also allowed for a diversity of viewpoints. It took us a while, but there was one phrase we finally settled on: “Students will be able to act from an internal coherent ethical belief system.” This original formulation was mine and I chose my words carefully. I chose “internal”… Read More