Examples of course (re)design and program development: Below are three examples illustrating my experience in (1) revising existing study plans and course descriptions, (2) creating new courses and (3) improving existing courses (and adapting to digital teaching and assessment) through changes to the semester plans, assignments and assessment. In addition, example 4 outlines my contributions in developing central aspects of two study programs.
1. Kompetanse for kvalitet, English 1: study plan revision
In the fall of 2020, I was involved in revising the English Department’s courses for in-service teachers. Together with one other colleague, and with input from the rest of the department, I revised the study plan for English 1 (for years 1-7, 5-10 and 8-13). This also involved revising the course descriptions for the two courses that make up the one-year study program: English in Use and Teaching and Learning English. Revisions were made in accordance with the commission set by The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Research, which involved a stronger emphasis on core topics reflected in the renewed English subject curriculum for Norwegian schools (e.g. English as a global language, multilingualism/plurilingualism, and digital tools for language learning). The revision resulted in a continued agreement between the directorate and Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.
- The old study plan for the 5-10 program can be found here.
- The new study plan for the 5-10 program can be found here.
2. Spoken English: Creating a new course
In 2018, I developed the new BA-level course Spoken English, together with a colleague. The course was designed to be part of the 5-year program Lektorutdanning i språkfag (teacher education, years 8-13), where there was a need for courses focusing on language topics. This also gave me the wonderful opportunity to develop a course based on my own research and research interests. The course also resulted in some students writing their bachelor thesis on related topics, which I took part in supervising or assessing. The course was first run in the fall of 2019, and continued in 2020 and 2021. It remains in the portfolio for the Lektor program.
The course is structured around two obligatory assignments, one of which also forms part of the final oral examination. The second assignment involves a feedback and revision process, with written feedback from teachers and spoken feedback from peers and teachers, before the end product is assessed as part of the final evaluation. Examples of the assignment wording and the exam instructions can be found below.
- The course description for the course can be found here.
- An example semester plan for the course (revised according to the changing situation in fall 2020) can be downloaded here:
- The second obligatory assignment for 2020:
- Exam instructions (assessment criteria and preparation sheet), 2020
3. English language (teacher education, 1-7): Improving an existing course (and adapting to digital teaching and assessment)
I have been course co-ordinator for this course, which under normal circumstances is taught partly online and partly on campus (“samlingsbasert”), since 2019. During these years I have – together with my team(s) and with input from students through formal and informal evaluations – continually improved and developed the structure and content of the course.
We have developed the structure with the semester plan and the Canvas room as our main tools, offering more opportunities for guided individual and group work in-between campus gatherings (see an example of a semester plan below).
We have also worked towards more student engagement and involvement, particularly through the obligatory assignments. We have experimented with different forms of feedback (written and oral peer feedback, oral teacher feedback (recorded and in class)), and different ways of creating a safe and productive learning environment for these students as remote learners, and also as a diverse group with students with different experiences and from different age groups.
The example below shows a group assignment, which has been developed from an individual assignment (created by Prof. Anne-Line Graedler for a different course). The assignment was introduced at a campus seminar, the students were given time to work together, and the seminar concluded with student presentations and feedback.
Turning this individual assignment into a group assignment 1) contributes to the learning environment by allowing students to communicate in smaller groups, 2) allows students to learn from each other by discussing background reading and addressing a challenging task together, 3) combats language anxiety, and 4) allows for more in-depth discussion of concepts already introduced as part of earlier teaching (contributing to deep learning).
The group presentation was followed by an individual reflection note, which has a dual purpose: 1) students’ reflections on the process contributes to a greater awareness of learning strategies, and 2), it allows us as teachers insight into the learning of the individual student.
When the covid 19 pandemic hit in March 2020, we needed to convert the 5-hour school exam format for this course to a digital home exam at extremely short notice. We developed an exam format that would allow the students to show their knowledge and skills equal to the opportunities offered by a school exam. In addition, we worked on communicating well with the students concerning the changes, both when it came to the format and assessment, as well as technical challenges. A third concern was fairness: We worked on creating an exam that would reduce the temptation and opportunity for peer-plagiarism and cheating. In order to find solutions, we discussed with our colleagues, attended digital meetings at other institutions and sought advice from experts. Some concrete measures we implemented were the creation of several sets of different exam questions (of equal level of difficulty), which were randomly distributed to the students, and an element of choice (between equal options) in some of the questions. We also developed an information page for students with useful resources in Canvas. This exam format was continued as the situation called for it also in 2021, according to the same principles.
Below are examples of a 5-hour school exam (2019, pre-pandemic), and the converted digital exam (one out of several sets of questions).
4. Program development
In my roles as co-ordinator for the master’s thesis and bachelor thesis seminars in INN’s 5-year Lektorutdanning i språkfag and master’s in culture and language subject didactics, I have had the chance to work closely together with the Head(s) of Studies and student adviser(s) in order to improve the thesis writing process for students, supervisors and examiners. My involvement in these processes has also allowed for insight into how colleagues from different subjects and departments (Norwegian and music) approach challenges related to thesis writing, supervision and assessment.
One important component of this work has been developing and improving writing seminars for the bachelor’s students and master’s students, in which students are allowed to come together to discuss key elements of the thesis writing process (e.g. choosing a topic and developing a research question and approach, engaging critically and conscientiously with relevant sources, and adhering to academic writing norms and research ethics). This can contribute positively to students’ motivation in the thesis writing process, and create a forum for sharing challenges and useful ideas with fellow students. Below is an example of a recent master’s thesis seminar cycle:
Based on my experiences as a learner and teacher, I believe that when these seminars are most successful, it is when students are able to think in new ways about challenges they face, and shape important elements of their project in dialog with me, my co-teaching colleagues and/or fellow students. In this way, the seminars seem to become both a preparation for individual supervision sessions, as well as a meaningful part of the thesis process in its own right, where knowledge and learning is created.
I am continually developing the design of these seminars, in dialogue with colleagues and students, to ensure that the process of writing a BA thesis or constructing an MA project becomes a process which also includes the student in the academic dialogue and allows them to become co-constructors of knowledge.
A recurring challenge in the thesis writing process has been the students’ need for clear instructions and expectations. To help address this in the lektor program, I initiated the inclusion of clearer assessment criteria in the BA thesis guidelines, and translated the guidelines to English for the benefit of both the students and (in particular) examiners abroad:
–> Examples of approaches to (digital) teaching