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The Course Syllabus As A Powerful Agreement of Cooperation For Learning
In traditional teacher-centered learning environments, contractual syllabi are typically adopted wherein the emphasis is placed on the contractual nature between the instructor and the students, highlighting the pre-determined nature of the implementation of the course requirements and policies (Ludy et al., 2016). Studies have shown that using such syllabi elicit various levels of engagement, perceptions, and expectations for students as the opportunity is lost to collectively identify what would be the most beneficial aspects of the course and how these aspects should be evaluated by students themselves (Ludy et al., 2016; Parkes & Harris, 2002). Further, the argument can be made that within collaborative and active-learning frameworks, which center on student learning, adopting a traditional syllabus runs counter to the presupposed notion of student engagement in this environment (Hudd, 2003). Consistent with the critical aspects of collaborating would be the design of a different syllabus by working with students as a team to achieve an agreement of cooperation between the instructor and the students on how the material will be presented, how the students will be responsible for their learning, and, ultimately, how the course should be assessed. In this presentation, details of an approach to student-designed syllabi as implemented in a transport phenomena course will be detailed. Building on the scholarship supporting student-designed syllabi, this unique approach leverages the Foundry Model to elevate the type of collaboration engendered by this approach as embodied in the development of the syllabi as a prototype of innovative technology (Arce et al., 2015). A preliminary analysis of the performance of students in the course along with student feedback will be presented to help understand the benefits of this approach within a Foundry-designed course.
References: Arce, P. E., J. R. Sanders, A. Arce-Trigatti, L. Loggins, J. Biernacki, M. Geist, J. Pascal and K. Wiant, “The Renaissance Foundry”, Critical Conversation Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol II, 176, 2015. Winner of the 2015 Zone II Best Paper, ASEE.
Hudd, S. (2003). Syllabus Under Construction: Involving Students in The Creation of Class Assignment. Teaching Sociology, 31, 195-202.
Ludy, M.-J., Brackenbury, T., Folkins, J. W.., Peet, S. H., Langendorfer, S.J., & Beining, K. (2016). Student Impressions of Syllabus Design: Engaging Versus Contractual Syllabus. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(2), Article 6.
Parkes, J., & Harris, M. (2002). The purposes of a syllabus. College Teaching, 50(2), 55-61.