- About CEE
- CEE Anti-Racist Pedagogies Program: HRJ
- Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning
- Decolonization and Indigenization
- Inclusion in the Classroom Week
- Instructional Skills Workshop
- Remote Teaching Forum 2021
- Rethinking Course Design
- Special Events
- Symposium on Teaching and Learning
- TA/TM Day: The Teaching Orientation Program
- Teaching Matters Seminar Series
- Voice and Presentation Skills
- Tea and Teachings
- Learning from remote instruction
- Lecture recording and AV support for in-person instruction
- 813,000 Zoom meetings: How IT Services handled the move to remote instruction
- National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
- Reflections on Inclusion in the Classroom Week
- Welcome to your new Zoom classroom
- Kevin Lam: “Students appreciate every little thing we do that shows that we care”
- Sheri Fabian: “I embraced a flexible approach”
- Sarah Johnson: “The biggest change I made was to switch to asynchronous delivery”
- Nicky Didicher: “I’m finding my job less exhilarating”
- Mark Lechner: “You have to be OK with things going sideways”
- Nienke van Houten: “They really valued my clear and upfront approach”
- How can we support remote instruction at SFU?
- Crowdmark: A more efficient way to grade student assessments
- The unexpected benefits of a shorter syllabus
- Photo gallery: Talking shop at Teaching Matters
- Watch the video: Faculty members discuss SFU's new instructor-led online course model
- Bridges and booster rockets: CEE's new senior director talks about teaching support
- Meet the Centre for Educational Excellence leadership team
- A biology instructor rethought her students’ role—and her own
- Photo gallery: SFU’s 24th Annual Spring TA/TM Day
- Photo gallery: SFU's 9th Annual Winter Warm-up
- If you build it, will they come?
- “My students didn’t look like they were having fun”: Three additions to the TA/TM Stories podcast series
- View the furniture, share your thoughts—online
- An upgraded Canvas Gradebook is coming in January
- Share your thoughts on the furniture in SFU classrooms
- DEMOfest presenter slides
- Photo gallery: 5th Annual DEMOfest
- Teamwork needs to be taught
- TA/TM Stories: Three new podcasts explore the teaching experiences of grad students
- Can it be done? A math instructor attempts to indigenize her course
- Answers to your questions about SFU's new approach to online education
- Photo gallery: The CEE Open House
- Do you know your faculty teaching fellow?
- Instructor-led online courses: How one faculty member prepared for the new model
- Photo gallery: SFU's 34th Annual Fall TA/TM Day draws a crowd
- Connecting people and crossing artificial divides: An interview with Elizabeth Elle
- Sessional instructors can now be included in online course evaluations
- Don't say this to your class—a student shares his experience
- How one lecturer is using podcasts to make course concepts more real in her online course
- Photo gallery: Rain, burgers and smiles at the 2019 President's Employee BBQ
- Five questions and answers about the creation of CEE
- A redesign made this course more engaging for students—and the instructor
- CPUTL: A graduate student describes her experience
- CEE Staff Login
A redesign made this course more engaging for students—and the instructor
By Jackie Amsden
This story originally appeared on the Teaching and Learning News blog on August 16, 2018.
Atiya Mahmood is learning how to breathe new life into old courses.
Mahmood, an associate professor in the Department of Gerontology, inherited GERO 300: Introduction to Gerontology in Fall 2014.
“GERO 300 is a Breadth course that gets an enrollment of 50 plus students each fall, most of them from disciplines outside gerontology. It was originally designed in the 1990s and hadn’t been updated since then. The student evaluations were pretty mediocre—the format of the course needed a major revamp.”
Mahmood attended the Spring 2017 Rethinking Teaching workshop, now named Rethinking Course Design, to help her figure out how to revise it. Rethinking Teaching/Course Design is a four-day, peer-led workshop offered by the Teaching and Learning Centre that supports faculty members to develop or redesign a university course.
“One of the first questions that Rethinking Teaching made me address was: What is my objective with the course? What do I want students to get out of it? This made me really think about how to make the class more palatable for the students. One part of the course that students found daunting was a module where they were exposed to 12 core theories all in the same lecture. Through Rethinking Teaching, I developed a course concept map that helped me identify three overarching and interlinked theories that became a running theme throughout the course. I could then introduce the other theories gradually in other modules.”
By adapting and streamlining the course content, Mahmood was also able to integrate an experiential activity to allow students to understand the abstract course concepts and complex information in new, more meaningful ways.
The persona project
“My colleague, Sarah Canham, and I both teach this course during different semesters and we came up with this idea of the persona project, where students work in teams over the duration of the course to develop a fictional older adult character that possesses unique physical, social and psychological traits. This persona becomes a frame through which students can engage with the curriculum. Attending Rethinking Teaching helped me work out how to structure the course so that this activity anchors the different course modules.”
The goal of the personas activity, Mahmood explains, is for students to think through how each person’s life situation interacts with the world in specific ways that then inform their life experience.
“One team decided their persona would have little rats as pets. When we got to the module on housing, this team soon realized that their persona would have major difficulty in finding placement in a supportive housing or care facility as most do not allow rodent pets. In another assignment, students had to evaluate an assigned section of downtown Vancouver through the lens of their persona with whatever mobility challenges they have designated for their persona. My students are largely able-bodied 20-year-olds, and until they do this type of assignment, the reality of older adults is often invisible to them. It gives them an awareness of the aging process that is different from what they learn through discussions or readings.”
Mahmood’s Rethinking Teaching group lead, Petra Menz (senior lecturer, Mathematics), attended one of her classes to observe how students were discussing their personas. Menz’s feedback helped Mahmood modify her assignments to ensure students were getting the most out of them.
Hearing from the students
The impact of the course redesign on student learning, explains Mahmood, has been significant. Students are not only getting to know their classmates better, but understanding the course material in deeper ways. “We evaluated the course and found that 90% of students felt the persona project helped them learn the concepts better.”
For example, one student stated, “I really enjoyed the application of persona work. As a project, I felt like the end result of building the persona connected us personally to the work that we did. It’s a more creative way to demonstrate the knowledge we gained through the length of the course. This has been the most enjoyable group project I’ve been a part of.”
But just as important: Mahmood is enjoying the course. “Redesigning the course in this way has made the course actually fun for me to teach.”