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

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CHAPTER THREE

DESIGNING SIGNIFICANT LEARNING EXPERIENCES I

Getting Started

The first two chapters of this book have presented two key ideas: all teaching should strive to create significant learning experiences, and it is useful to have a taxonomy—a language and set of concepts—for identifying what constitutes such experiences. If one accepts the associated premise that higher education is and ought to be moving toward a learning-centered approach, then the question arises, “How can teachers do a better job of creating significant learning experiences for students?”

The answers to this question obviously have several important components but it is clear that if professors want to create courses in which students have significant learning experiences, they must learn how to design that quality into their courses. Unless a course is designed properly, all the other components of effective teaching will have only limited impact.

This chapter and the next will present ideas on how to design courses that will generate powerful learning experiences for students and fulfill those deep dreams that faculty have for their teaching (as described in Chapters One and Two). The present chapter lays out some general ideas about designing courses, introduces a new model of the course design process, and then walks readers through the first three steps of the process. Chapter Four examines the remaining steps, in which the classroom events that actually shape the learning experience are created. ...

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