Thoughtful Course Design to Amplify Experiential Education

This post is the second in a series of posts based on course work completed for the class Education as an Advanced Field of Study that I completed at Northeastern University in the Spring of 2014.

Annotated Bibliography Item:

Elmore, A. C., & Elmore, A. C. (2006). International Experiential Learning Course Design. Applied Environmental Education and Communication, Volume 5, Number 2, 117–125. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15330150600648978

In this article Andrew Curtis Elmore, Assistant Professor of Geological Engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla describes the hybrid course design process that he utilized to develop a curriculum for an international experiential based course. The course was developed to “bridge the gap between extracurricular service type programs and academically based study-abroad programs” (Elmore 2006, p. 3). The multi-dimensional challenges involved in developing this type of program caused Elmore to take a very transparent and thoughtful approach to his learning design. Elmore collected data through a qualitative case-study approach based on both student responses as well as future activities of students in the class’ area of focus that were not connected to class requirements.

Through the author’s title I assume that Elmore was the course designer although this is not explicitly stated in the article. He acknowledges that the small sample size (10 students – 5 graduate and 5 undergraduate) indicates an area for additional quantitative analysis. However in particular his findings and data on student activities and involvement in the area of study after the conclusion of the class indicate learning outcomes and interest that extended beyond the scope of the class. (50% of the class were involved in new service learning projects after the conclusion of the class.) The amount of consideration paid to structuring learning outcomes and accommodating for potential challenges speaks to the success of this class and appears to be a model of in-depth and transparent course design. In fact, in his analysis the author indicates a potential to streamline the course development process as an incentive to involve more faculty in this type of instruction.

I find this resource extremely helpful to me as it provides a model through which thoughtful and thorough hybrid and experiential course design can work together to develop exceptional academic results in addition to providing students with a means to apply their skills and knowledge in real-world scenarios. In particular the addition of an international/service-learning component and acknowledgement of the challenges involved in this sort of course is of particular interest to my future studies as well as interests expressed at my current institution of employment.

 

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