Monday, February 27, 2012

Grant Wiggin's Understanding by Design Seminar

Katthy Crowe, Jenny Dale and Beth FilarWilliams attended an excellent session by Grant Wiggins who was brought to campus by DCL on February 23, 2012. Wiggins co-wrote Understanding by Design which provides a planning framework to reach goals. We have this book in print and ebook. Check out his Power Point for more info.

Here are some of Wiggins main points:

· Focus on outcomes not inputs and students’ use and grasp of content rather than content coverage.

· Keep long-term goals in view with short term instruction & assessment. Aim for units over lessons for better long term results. It will better engage learners. 21st Century students have higher expectation for multi media

· Programs have mission statement. How are courses designed to achieve program goals? eg critical and creative thinking. Mission statements are often not helpful

· We do need robust honest mission statements. Many talk about what we're providing instead. We need outcomes based on students’ performance. Need to be achievement focused

· Need to know how people learn. How People Learn (available online on chapter 3 is about transfer of learning

· Courses should not be a march through content but be Schooling by Design

· There’s often mismatch between goals and assessment

Understanding by Design’s (UBD) 3 big idea:

1. Point of education is effective understanding - not recall of content.

Asked us to complete this sentence:

By the end of the course/program, learners should be better able, on their own, to effectively use all the content learned, by…..

Content is a tool that makes you more competent, effective and efficient.

2. Understanding = using content effectively for transfer & meaning

(discussed Bloom who discouraged the word “understanding” but Wiggins thinks it's ok. But what do we mean by understanding?)

Asked us to complete:

If you know a lot but don't really understand you can only.....

If you understand you can Figure Out (connect, analyze, say why, interpret) and you can Apply (create, teach, adapt, not just plug in). Make meaning and transfer.

3. Backward design: determine what you want students to understand first. Using formative assessment, you can design/redesign, students misunderstandings.

s1 Goal is understanding

s2 If that’s the goal, then what evidence is needed for assessment?

s3 If that’s the goal and evidence needed, what follows for appropriate learning activities (the design)?

Other points:

· Need engaging work and competent understanding , not coverage

(medical education follows this)

· Seek a genuine, authentic performance

· Make students' thinking transparent.

· Design must change if students not learning. Must adjust.

· Can’t over rely on multiple choice

· Less lecturing. Some colleges like Harvard and MIT are giving lessons/lectures online and then using class time to engage with better transfer of real understanding

· Students need opportunities to practice, get feedback

· understanding is about acquiring (short term), making meaning and then transferring (long term)

· student make connections and generalizations, using the facts and skills

· adapt knowledge to solutions, real world contexts

· what do you want them to be able to do w/ content on their own

· what kind of thinking do you want them to do?

Additional Resources:

(summary by Kathy Crowe, with input from Beth)

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