ICS 398B — UC Irvine — David G. Kay

Activity 2: Design a Course of Your Choice

For most of the rest of the quarter, each of you will design a course of your choosing. We will approach this in stages.

For the next class, first choose the topic of your course. You may stick with the intro course you've already started or you may choose any other topic that might reasonably be offered in your field. You should not feel bound by any course that currently exists, in ICS or elsewhere. On the other hand, if you wish to borrow from an existing course, that's fine; just cite which course and whose materials you're using. There's a long tradition in teaching of borrowing materials from other instructors; not everything you use has to be perfectly original. But for purposes of our seminar, you're not going to learn much if you just copy someone else's materials wholesale.

Prepare four slides as follows (though it may take more if you use PowerPoint):

  1. Background: What institution is your course offered at (UCI, MIT, ...)? What are the students like? Is it on quarters or semesters? What's the topic of your course? What audience level are you aiming at (first-year students, seniors, ...)? Is the course required? What are the prerequisites? What do you expect the class size to be? Will you have TAs or graders? Will there be scheduled discussion or lab sessions? You have free rein to make up the answers to these questions, but once you decide, you need to design your course to meet those constraints.

  2. Student learning outcomes: As before, what are the 5-10 goals or outcomes of your course (things you want students to be able to do by the end of the course)? (Think about how you might measure how students have attained these goals, but don't write anything about that yet.) Also answer these questions: What are the three most valuable or most important concepts in the course for students? What do you think will bethe three most difficult concepts or skills in the course (for you to teach, for the students to learn)?

  3. Outline/schedule: For each class meeting, write 3-5 words about the topic or activity for that meeting. In a typical quarter-long class with 10 weeks and 2 meetings per week, that would be 20 lines. Be sure to leave time for holidays (usually one or two per quarter) and for exams (if you're having any).

  4. Active learning: Everything we currently know about learning tells us that straight lecturing is not a very effective way to get students to learn. Pick one class meeting from your outline above and describe how you will address those topics using some kind of active learning techniques.

Please bring an electronic version to class to present (anything that will work with the classroom projection system is fine). Keep your own copy of these slides; you'll be adding to them as the quarter goes on and sending/presenting the whole revised package each time, so we can refer back to the previous material.

As always, feel free to send questions or comments by e-mail (or stop by in person, of course).

David G. Kay, kay@uci.edu