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Creating Significant Learning Experiences, Revised and Updated by L. Dee Fink

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CHAPTER ONE

CREATING SIGNIFICANT LEARNING EXPERIENCES

The Key to Quality in Educational Programs

We won’t meet the needs for more and better higher education until professors become designers of learning experiences and not teachers.

—Larry Spence (2001)

Every year, in the United States alone, more than one million college teachers prepare to teach classes, and more than twenty million students come to learn. Most of us teach four to eight courses a year. As we engage in this task, we have two options. We can continue to follow traditional ways of teaching, repeating the same practices that we and others in our disciplines have used for years. Or we can dare to dream about doing something different, something special in our courses that would significantly improve the quality of student learning. This option leads to the question faced by teachers everywhere and at all levels of education: Should we make the effort to change or not?

Given the scale of education and its significance for individual lives and society at large, the response of teachers to this enduring question is of immense importance. What are the factors affecting our response? This chapter and this book will present some ideas about this question. As Spence asserts in the chapter-opening epigraph, I, too, will argue that college teachers need to learn how to design courses more effectively for higher education to significantly improve the quality of its educational programs.

The primary intent of this opening chapter ...

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