Designing or amending a course is an arduous task. Having the opportunity to use a 3-Column Table and Understanding by Design template has made this process streamlined and focused. The designs are different in their approach but I found both beneficial in designing different components of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) course and will be useful tools with implementation of my blended learning innovation plan.
To develop a broader direction of goals, activities and assessments I began the course design using Fink’s Learning Outcomes 3-Column Table. The questions provided me with guidance to develop goals for the Civil Engineering section in the STEM course. This method was beneficial when beginning the development of a course. The broader structure allows for a more general overview of what students should learn and accomplish. What I valued the most using the 3-Column table is these goals, activities and assessments went beyond subject content. This design brings in aspects of human dimension, caring, and teaching students how to learn, which is important for creating a significant learning environment.
I followed up the 3-Column table with the Understanding by design (UbD) template developed by Wiggins and McTighe’s. This design provides educators with an approach of working backwards to create a specific unit within a course. This simplified frame provides students with an overall view of the direction within a unit, aligning with assessments and activities to coordinate with the Unit. UbD’s template is most effectively used within small part of a unit, providing structure and details. I used this template to create a structure for concepts, activities and assessments necessary to complete bridge construction, one section within the Civil Engineering portion of STEM. When I first began reading about Fink’s 3-Column Table and Wiggins Understanding by Design, I initially thought I would develop a preference for one of the models. However, after having an opportunity to use and develop through the 3-Column Table and UbD, I found them connected and working together. They both add value for different situations. The 3-Column Table would have been useful when we developed initial district curriculum for the STEM course years ago. The curriculum was developed through mimicking the format of State TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills), but in reflection the 3-Column Table would have been more ideal for this development. When initiating a course, focusing on the big picture is meaningful, and taking the time to decided what you are wanting the students to take away from the course. Then to zoom in even further the UbD template provides the teacher and student with further details. This provides a step by step framework that can be personalized for a teacher’s lesson or shared ideas throughout a department. I used the UbD template to provide specific details for the Bridge Construction Unit within the Civil Engineering section of STEM.
UbD: Bridge Construction
Fink, L.D. (2003) A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for supervision and curriculum development.