Guidance for Writing Teaching and Learning Sections A through C

A. Inventory of Program’s Teaching and Learning Practices

Section A captures what is happening in the program with regards to teaching and learning. Through an ‘inventory’ type of process, essential aspects of teaching and learning practices are shared without judgment or evaluation. As a guideline, the following pages provide suggestions and reference a number of appendices (documents for gathering data/inventory items) in order to help flesh out the details. If the department has other instruments or methods to share their inventory, they are more than welcome to use what works for them.  Using the sub-headings for this section (e.g., i. Program Learning Outcomes; ii. Student Assessment Methods; iii. Teaching and Learning Strategies and iv. Curriculum Design and Alignment of Practices) and the suggestions provided within will help frame this section.

i. Program Learning Outcomes

 


If you have learning outcomes created for your program, insert them here. Typically programs tend to have a collection of core learning outcomes (~ 10 - 20) that describe what graduates of the program should be able to know, do and value upon completion of the program.

If you do not have program learning outcomes, you may wish to develop them as an action item to undertake after the Program Review process.  For now, consider describing in a paragraph or two what graduates of your program should know and be able to do when they complete the program.

Another way to conceptualize this section is to ask what are the habits of the head (knowledge), habits of the heart (values) and habits of the hand (skills) do you want your graduates to have when they complete their program of study?

See Appendix A: Program Learning Outcomes Details for definitions of program learning outcome and examples.

ii. Student Assessment Methods

 

This sub-section describes how student learning is assessed (both assessment and evaluation methods) across the program. It will be helpful to explain why these methods are suitable to student learning in the program and/or discipline. In addition, you could share how the evaluation methods are distributed across the program while indicating how feedback is provided to students for achieving program learning outcomes. More specifically the following three sub-sections will assist in organizing information.

  1. a.       Assessment (Informal Gathering and Giving of Student Feedback)

Share a collection of the most frequently used assessment methods collated from faculty members.  Assessment (also called formative assessment) is an informal, ongoing, gathering of student learning that is not associated with marks. Some examples of assessment include, minute papers, ticket out door, concept maps, prior knowledge surveys, one sentence summaries etc.  Explain why these methods are suitable to your discipline and the nature of learning within your program.

See Appendix B: Student Assessment Methods – Definitions to assist in understanding formative assessment.

See Appendix C: Student Formative Assessment Methods – Data Collection to assist Program Review Chair and/or faculty in considering what methods are most frequently used across the program. Each faculty member could complete a copy of the document and submit for collation.

  1. b.      Evaluation of Student Learning

This section relates to student learning methods used for marks, points, or grades. Share some of the program’s core evaluation methods (ways of obtaining evidence of student learning) collated from faculty members teaching in your program. Some examples of evaluation methods include quizzes, tests, mid-terms, exams, projects, assignments, and presentations.   Explain why these evaluation methods are suitable to your discipline and the nature of learning within your program.

See Appendix B: Student Assessment and Evaluation Methods – Definitions to assist in understanding student evaluation.

See Appendix D: Student Evaluation of Learning Methods – Data Collection to assist Program Review Chair and/or faculty with each faculty member in considering what methods are most frequently used across the program. Provide a copy of the page for each course in the program and have faculty complete and report back on summary of findings.

  1. c.       Timing of Evaluation Methods

Considering all the evaluation methods listed in part b. of this section, describe approximately when they happen in a term and/or within the program. Share a description about the timing of student evaluation of learning activities across the program and timing of feedback given to students related to evaluation.

For example, shorter essays, mid-term exams and some presentations might be more apt to happen part way through most terms in a program, where exams and longer essays, projects and larger demonstrations of learning might happen closer to the end of a term. In other programs, there are other summative assessments that might have a different schedule.  Some evaluation methods (e.g., portfolios, research papers, collaborative projects, thesis projects) may be demonstrated in the final term of a program.

In addition, share a short description about the timing of feedback on student evaluation. Describe the program’s processes for providing feedback to students on assignments, tests, projects etc. See Appendix E: Student Evaluation – Alignment and Timing Chart for a data collection form.

iii. Teaching and Learning Strategies

 

 

  1. a.       Teaching and Learning Strategies Across Program

This section asks you to describe the teaching and learning methods and strategies employed throughout the whole program. You may wish to make a list of the types of teaching and learning strategies used, or you may wish to use the five basic strategy categories to describe your program (e.g., Direct Instruction Strategies, Interactive Instruction Strategies, Indirect Instruction Strategies, Independent Study Strategies and Experiential Learning Strategies). See Appendix F: Teaching and Learning Strategies Inventory Per Course

For example, access the document in Appendix F and outline the five main teaching and learning strategy categories and indicate how frequently they are used within the program. You may wish to first survey faculty on this question and collate their answers.

  1. b.      High Impact Educational Practices

In this section, describe any high impact educational practices which are part of your program. George Kuh, the founding director of the NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) identified teaching practices that he found tended to have the greatest impact on engagement in post-secondary education institutions. The NSSE has been used in many institutions in Canada and US since 1999. According to Kuh, these high-impact practices helps students engage in "deep approaches" to learning which are important because "students who use these approaches tend to earn higher grades and retain, integrate, and transfer information at higher rates”. Identify any of the high impact practices your program uses.

If there are any other high impact educational practices your program uses to engage students in learning experiences, feel free to describe and add to this section.

See Appendix G: 10 High Impact Educational Practices for a listing and description of each of the ten researched practices.

iv. Curriculum Design and Alignment of Practices

 

This section describes how the program outcomes, student assessment methods and teaching and learning practices are connected through demonstration of aligned program/curriculum design.

The best learning occurs when program outcomes are aligned with courses and assessment methods. In this way, students know what is expected of them and the assessment mechanisms allow them to see congruent measures for their learning.  For example, if you want students to be critical thinkers with well-developed research skills, then your assessment methods should provide opportunities for demonstrating such learning (e.g., an inquiry-based project where students design and implement a plan to investigate a question, providing a summary of their findings rather than  a multiple choice exam  at the end of the course). 

There are five sub-sections (a. through e.) in this section; each explained below.

  1. a.       Program Learning Outcome Alignment with VIU (Institutional) Learning Outcomes

For this part, describe how your program learning outcomes are connected to VIU’s institutional outcomes. You could do this by creating a numerical cross-listing such as in the example:

Program Outcome 1: By the end of the program, students will be able to use word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software to clearly and succinctly communicate their findings through final research project and report.

VIU Institutional Outcome Connections: # 2, #3

Alternatively (if you had or didn’t have program learning outcomes), you could describe in a paragraph how your program is aligned with the institutional outcomes.

  1. b.      Program Learning Outcome Alignment with Course Level Learning Outcomes

In this sub-section, demonstrate to what degree your program outcomes are aligned with the courses within your program (often just core courses and not electives). The intent of this sub-section is for you to demonstrate how your program is aligned and connected across courses and learning intentions. This sub-section may be a paragraph describing how all courses are aligned with overall program intentions and outcomes.

Alternatively you may have a matrix completed of your program learning outcomes such as shown below.  Some disciplines require this chart/matrix for accreditation purposes or it may have been developed for a new program approval. It may look something like this:

COURSES

CRSE 101

CRSE 103

CRSE 104

CRSE 211

…..

 

L

M

H

L

M

H

L

M

H

L

M

H

 

Program Learning Outcome 1

 

X

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

Program Learning Outcome 2

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

Program Learning Outcome 3

X

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

Program Learning Outcome 4

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

….# 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L = Low (the program learning outcome is lightly touched upon/possibly introduced, verbally discussed or mentioned throughout the course, or it may be part of a low stakes assignment or test, or part of lower cognitive processing assessment like multiple choice or true/false or activities that rely more on remembering than application)

M = Medium (the program learning outcome is definitely part of the course in a variety of ways that allow students to demonstrate their analysis and application of it through their work, or it may be part of an assignment or test, the learning outcome is reinforced with feedback from instructor, students are developing proficiencies with the learning outcome)

H = High (the program learning outcome is a significant part of the course in ways that allow students to demonstrate higher cognitive processing skills through evaluation, synthesis, in depth analysis, development of new theories and methods etc. through detailed projects, assignments and higher stakes assessment; students demonstrate high levels of independence and a level of understanding and sophistication)

  1. c.       Course Level Outcome Alignment with Student Evaluation Methods

In this sub-section demonstrate, using a few samples of course learning outcomes (from a variety of courses across program), how course learning outcomes are aligned with evaluation methods and teaching and learning strategies. See Appendix H: Curriculum Design and Alignment of Practices Example

This section may take the form of a paragraph describing a few courses (couple of learning outcomes related to core student evaluation methods) or completing copies of the diagram found in Appendix I: Curriculum Design and Alignment of Practices Worksheet.

  1. d.      Innovation, Technology and Unique Program Components

Identify any innovative or creative components in the content and/or delivery of the program including (but not limited to) technology integration, varying modes of program delivery (blended, flipped, online), and/or program components that are unique to VIU.

Describe anything significant which differentiates your program from similar programs at other institutions. What do your courses, program or students do differently that might be enhancing learning, innovating content or making the program unique?

  1. e.      Depth and Breadth of Student Learning

Describe the level of depth and breadth of learning you feel students gain from your program. Upon graduation, how well do you feel they achieve learning intentions or learning outcomes? To what degree are students learning deeply making application of learning to new situations?  Use a few examples to describe your responses to this sub-section.

 

B.  Enhancement and Currency of Program’s Teaching and Learning Practices

Section B captures activities intended to enhance and keep current the program’s teaching and learning practices. This section asks faculty members to describe ways that they seek to keep current in how student learning is designed particularly around the same areas as Section A (i. Program Learning Outcomes; ii. Student Assessment Methods; iii. Teaching and Learning Strategies and iv. Curriculum Design and Alignment of Practices).

The following pages provide suggestions for what each sub-section could contain. If the department has other ways to enhance and keep teaching and learning practices current, they are welcome to use what works for them.  The following is a guideline for completing Section B.

i. Program and Course Learning Outcomes

 

In this section, comment on the ways your program’s learning outcomes are developed, enhanced and kept current for student learning and for the discipline.

In order to effectively inform curriculum processes and decisions about the program, learning outcomes should be developed and reviewed by program level curriculum committees, teaching faculty, students and others. Learning outcomes should become part of a living curriculum, where a process of continuous review and improvement is supported.

Here are a few examples of questions you could cover in this section:

  • Describe how the program’s learning outcomes are current, relevant and consistent according to stakeholder needs, academic literature, discipline guidelines and feedback (e.g., students, faculty, employers, and institution).
    • Are there similar programs at other institutions with learning outcomes you could compare to your program’s outcomes?
    • Does your discipline have literature /research articles that share insights into the advances in academic programs and the subsequent shifting/morphing/enhancing of components to meet stakeholder and student needs?
    • Do you engage in examining your program’s learning outcomes through questions like those listed below?

1.     Do program learning outcomes accurately describe what a graduate should know, value and be able to do?  Do they describe adequately the unique strengths that a graduate of the program should possess? Are there any specific statements that should be added, consolidated and/or removed?

2.     Do the action verbs adequately convey an appropriate level of understanding for each learning outcome?

3.     Are the learning outcome statements concise and specific?  Could they be understood by multiple audiences (e.g. students, instructors, employers, administrators, across institutions)?

4.      Are they reflective of the discipline? Would the discipline be clear if the statement were read in isolation? If not, what additional detail could be added to provide additional disciplinary context?

5.     Are they specific, observable and measurable qualities? Could you appropriately assess each outcome? If not, how should they be revised? What additional detail/context is required?

  • Describe how your program learning outcomes are perceived by students; by colleagues teaching in other departments in your same Faculty; by graduate programs; or by employers who take on graduates of your program.
  • Describe any feedback surveys or focus groups you may have undertaken about your program’s learning intentions and structure.

ii. Student Assessment Methods

 

In this section describe how you know that current student assessment and evaluation methods used across the program are relatively accurate in providing evidence around student knowledge, demonstrated skills and values.  This section might be a paragraph describing how the program ensures its student assessment methods are current, reliable and appropriate in providing feedback on learning to students. Describe any methods you use to determine responses to questions as listed below.

Questions to consider when writing this section:

  • Is there enough formative (informal) assessment happening in the program and across courses to give students ample opportunities for getting feedback on their learning?
  • Are the evaluation methods used across the program balanced and appropriate for the discipline, workload of students and learning opportunities?
  • How do you ensure you are using appropriate and timely assessment methods for gathering evidence of student learning in your program?
  • Are there other faculty in your discipline who are experimenting with new methods or report on usefulness of existing assessment and evaluation methods?
  • How does your department compare/ is aware of assessment methods used by other programs in the field? For example, are there new, modified or unique assessment methods emerging from other institutions that your department might consider?

iii. Teaching and Learning Strategies

 

In this section describe how you know that current teaching and learning strategies used across the program are effective in helping students learn the knowledge, skills and values related to the discipline. This section might be a paragraph describing how the program ensures its teaching and learning methods are current and appropriate in providing feedback on learning to students. Describe any methods you use to determine responses to questions as listed below.

Questions to consider in writing this section:

  • How does the program keep current with learning designs (including content, learning strategies) for optimal student learning in the program?
  • Do you have faculty members at other institutions in your discipline who are experimenting with new methods of teaching and learning?
  • Do you have a conference/network of colleagues where you are able to discuss what other institutions are doing with learning design in their courses and programs?

iv. Curriculum Design and Alignment of Practices

 

This section relates to how the program ensures it is aligned with institutional outcomes, course level learning outcomes, evaluation methods and builds innovation, depth and breadth to its curriculum. This section might be a paragraph describing similar methods and processes for all the sub-sections below or it might be a few sentences on each topic. This is an opportunity for the department to describe how the curriculum is continually enhanced, expanded upon and aligned with internal and external activities, employer needs, graduate school requirements, discipline expectations, student needs, learning experiences etc.

  1. a.       Program Learning Outcome Alignment with VIU (Institutional) Learning Outcomes
  1. b.      Program Learning Outcome Alignment with Course Level Learning Outcomes
  1. c.       Course Level Outcome Alignment with Student Evaluation Methods
  1. d.      Innovation, Technology and Unique Program Components
  1. e.      Depth and Breadth of Student Learning

C.       Engagement in Professional and Scholarly Learning

i. Professional Learning and Development Activities

 Engagement in professional learning and development activities are a natural part of a faculty member’s job. Each faculty member undertakes these sorts of activities in different formats, timeframes and over different time periods.  Some of this professional activity focuses on the discipline and knowledge of that discipline to remain current and well-versed in course material.

While the knowledge of the discipline (and related new advances, developments and skills) is very important to teaching and learning practices, this section focuses specifically on professional learning and development activities that relate to pedagogy, course design, teaching and learning strategies, assessment methods and the design of all of these elements to create learning opportunities for students within the discipline.

Good teachers foster learning effectively in their students (Kreber, 2002; McKinney, 2007). These individuals demonstrate and exemplify several sound pedagogical practices that have been described in the literature, such as respecting and responding to diverse approaches to learning, providing prompt and effective feedback, setting high but attainable expectations for students, and encouraging cooperation and collaboration between learners (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). Good teachers often engage in institutional teaching development activities and evaluate purposefully their own teaching to make improvements.

This professional learning and development might be through generic teaching and learning activities (e.g., teaching and learning conference, workshops, learning sessions) and/or it might be through discipline-specific activities such as reading a journal/magazine solely focused on the ‘teaching of’ that discipline (e.g., Journal of Teaching Writing, Language Teaching, Journal of Chemical Education, Mathematics Teacher, Journal of College Science Teaching etc.) or attending a conference (e.g., The Western Conference on Science Education). The activity may involve a faculty member participating in a teaching-related course or a workshop, or it may involve a group of faculty visiting each other’s classrooms to informally discuss teaching practices and observations of student learning.

For this section, describe the professional learning faculty members in the department undertake to ensure the teaching of the discipline best supports the learning across courses and program components. This section is meant to capture a summary of the types of activities faculty members participate in across the program. Brief explanations about the activities may also be part of this section.

To assist in writing the summary for this section, it may be helpful to have faculty complete a copy of Appendix J: Professional Learning and Development Activities Suggestions

ii. Scholarly Inquiry into Teaching and  Learning Practices

Scholarly teachers are informed not only by feedback on and reflections about their own teaching, but also by investigations into pedagogical approaches and methods of fostering and evaluating student learning in their fields (Allen & Field, 2005; Dewar, 2008; Richlin, 2001).

Scholarly teachers also engage with the scholarly contributions of others, integrate the results of the literature into their own teaching practices, and reflect on the results. Furthermore, scholarly teachers are informed not only by feedback on and reflections about their own teaching, but also by research investigating pedagogical approaches and methods of fostering and evaluating student learning in their fields (Allen & Field, 2005; Dewar, 2008; Richlin, 2001).

This section is a description of the types of scholarly inquiries and investigations faculty members undertake to explore new practices or enhance their teaching in the classroom. This might take the form of general investigations around how students learn and apply new knowledge, or it might be a discipline-specific method of learning that is being tried in the classroom.

The range of investigations may stretch from informal inquiries around student performance on an exam after altering a teaching strategy or making content available in other modes - or it may entail a more formal research investigation engaging in SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning), a cross-disciplinary field of study that encourages the exploration and public discussion of issues and questions about teaching and learning in post-secondary education.

Describe the scholarly inquiries or investigations faculty members engage in to advance their development of scholarship into their teaching and learning practices. Feel free to briefly elaborate on the inquiries if required.

To assist in writing the summary for this section, it may be helpful to have faculty look over a copy of Appendix K: Scholarly Inquiry into Teaching and Learning Practices Suggestions

MENU
CLOSE X CIEL