Determining your learning goals before designing course activities helps ensure that the activities are purposeful and makes it easier to communicate to your students what you want them to get out of the course and the individual assignments. In thinking through your course's learning goals, you may want to consider what content, disciplinary skills, and more generalized skills (e.g., writing or computer skills) you want your students to learn and why they are important to you.
In a SAIL class students actively engage with course content through structured activities during class time. However, what students are asked to do, both in and out of class, and how these classes are structured can vary dramatically depending on the instructor's learning goals.
Establish Your Learning Goals
In-class Active Engagement
The activities that you choose and the way that you structure those activities will depend heavily on your learning goals. However, no matter which activity and structure you choose, it is important to ensure that students understand the purpose of what they are doing and are guided through the activity in a structured way. Many instructors will accomplish this by regularly debriefing the answers with the class, drawing on student answers to give students feedback on their work, clearing up common misconceptions, and connecting the work to larger concepts. You can read about one instructors reflections on working to find a successful in-class activity in this Chronicle of Higher Education piece.
The work students do outside of class time is often crucial in a SAIL class. Prior to class, students may need to prepare for the activities, perhaps by reading course materials, watching a video or interacting with a simulation. Remember, the purpose of the pre-class work is to set students up to learn in class, not to master difficult concepts. After the class, instructors often require students to practice or hone the skills they learned through their in-class activities. Preparing out-of-class work requires deciding how students will be held accountable for the work and considering how to give feedback on that work. For material that will be challenging for most of the students – particularly for pre-class work, which likely introduces students to new materials – it is often valuable to provide guidance on how to approach it.