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A Contemporary Approach to English Language Learning Curriculum Design - Paper Example

7 pages
1764 words
Sewanee University of the South
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A Contemporary Approach to English Language Learning Curriculum Design: Using Finks Taxonomy as the Framework for Designing a Flipped Writing and Research Skills Course to Enhance University Students Writing skills

Overview of the Research

In 2003, in his book, Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses, L.D. Fink presented a new integrated approach to designing significant learning experiences that would create some interaction effects and synergy that greatly enhance the achievement of significant learning by students (33). The purpose of this study is to use Finks (2003) taxonomy of significant learning to design an online learning course to enhance students learning.

In his book, Fink presents a taxonomy that includes (1) foundational knowledge, (2) application, (3) interaction, (4) human dimension, (5) caring and (6) learning how to learn (30). In his taxonomy, foundational knowledge refers to what instructors expect of students; it is basic information of most courses and is needed for any additional learning about the subject, whereas application refers to the skills and critical thinking that instructors desire to see in student learning which refers to managing complex projects. Moreover, integration refers to the ability to make connections among different kinds of learned ideas which expands intellectual power. The human dimension of significant learning deals with the students discovery of something new about themselves and their interactions with others which help them shape new self- descriptions or ideals. Caring reflects possibly a change in student attitude either about themselves or what they are learning and when students care more, they become more motivated to continue learning, whereas learning how to learn enables a student to continue learning beyond the classroom.

In his book, Fink states that whenever one of these areas of learning is improved, the students ability to improve in every other area is enhanced and goes on to say that the circular structure of the taxonomy indicates that learning is multidirectional. For example, an increase in caring about a subject will lead to more momentum to learn foundational knowledge. An increase in integration skills will help students learn more about themselves, which falls under the human dimension.

Fink states that the best approach to creating a significant learning experience is implementing an integrated course, in which learning goals, teaching and learning activities, and feedback and assessment are aligned. Consequently, instructors plan a course based on the desired outcomes, as opposed to simply covering course content. After defining suitable outcomes, instructors choose instructional strategies which are frequent, immediate, discriminating (based on criteria and standards) and done lovingly (or supportively). Then they design learning activities that will engage students and not allow them to be passive learners.

The purpose of this study is to apply Finks approach to design a blended flipped course to teach writing skills to university students and to develop measures that will allow me to assess learning across Fins six taxa. This study is also conducted to investigate the achievement of students who will participate in the online course. I will teach my course and use the measures Ive designed to quantify the learning that took place. I predict that the students in my course will show significant learning across the six items of Finks taxonomy.

Significance of the Research

The English language profession today is under tremendous pressure to meet the increasing demands for English, both quantitative and qualitative in the age of globalization and international communication. Today, our students are living in a complex world that is changing rapidly. They live a faster, more connected life and have expectations about the ways they learn. Moreover, they need to be flexible and adaptable to succeed in the 21st century. They also need to be optimistic, influential, knowledgeable and articulate.

These needs should shape educators teaching philosophy. Its common knowledge that teaching patterns influence students motivation and achievement. Hence it is necessary to shift the focus from what we as teachers teach to what we want our students to do with the material taught and its necessary for teachers to see learning as an event that flourishes in personally meaningful and supportive environments. Moreover, it is necessary for teachers to design learning activities that are relevant and learning experiences that offer choice and require action since students need work that gives them the opportunity to connect with others and express themselves, provides them the chance to be original, develops their sense of competency and gives them some degree of autonomy.

Hence, these needs prompted me to design a blended learning course based on Finks taxonomy that includes six categories of learning, each of which affects the students in a different way. This study evaluates the results achieved. It also describes the pedagogical and technical aspects of the project. Hopefully this study will provide English teachers with a model for integrating online significant learning experiences into their classrooms.

Research design and methodology

I designed and implemented my course during the year 2016-2017 and I administered pre- and post course evaluations.

Action Plan

A blended flipped course was designed to teach writing skills to university students who were placed in ENGL. 201 Composition and Research Skills Course.

Blended Course

Engl. 201 provides an introduction to and foundation for the academic writing characteristic of college. You will learn to read critically, write effective arguments, understand the writing process, and craft powerful texts that meet readers' expectations.

Learning how to write effectively does not require inspiration or genius, but hard work, reflection, and feedback. This means that, with practice, dedication, and working with others, you can be an effective academic writer. Academic writing also offers you a means of contributing your ideas to important, ongoing conversations.

Much of our work in this blended course will revolve around the collaborative practices of peer feedback and discussion, which will create the opportunity for us to develop meaningful intellectual relationships. Respect for each others ideas, contributions, and writing will be an important element in creating a classroom community in which every class member can express themselves and grow intellectually. One of my principal roles as an instructor is to foster this processa role I am eager to begin. I am sincerely looking forward to working with you this semester.

Week 1

Week 1 introduces the writing process as a whole.

Week 1 introduces the first step of the Writing Process; Prewriting.

Week 1 includes your Must Do Task:

Watch the video about the writing process.

Watch the PowerPoint about the Prewriting Techniques.

Access the online resource and do the following: 1. Read about the prewriting techniques, practice doing them, print out your work and bring it to class.

Answer the Discussion Questions.

Read and reflect upon/ Respond to two of your classmates answers to the Discussion Questions written in the Discussion Board below.

Week 1 Discussion Board:

Answer the following Discussion Questions.

Discussion Questions:

The Prewriting/ Drafting Stage

What do think of the prewriting techniques introduced in the link?

Which prewriting technique would you personally use? Explain why.

Week 2

Week 2 introduces the second step of the writing process; writing.

Week 2 intrdocuse the parts of an essay.Week 2 teaches you how to write a thesis statement.

Week 2 teaches you how to support the thesis statement with specific evidence.

Week 2 includes your Must Do Task.

Watch the video "Topic Sentence and Supporting Details?"

Watch the video " Basics of a Paragraph "

Wacth the video " Writing an Academic Essay "

Watch the PowerPoint about"Thesis Statement and Specific Evidence"

Do the activities in the Tasks Section below about Topic Sentence and Supporting Details. Print out the activties and bring them to class.

Answer the Discussion Questions.

Reflect and reflect upon/ Respond to three of your classmates' questions. Reflect and respond tothe questions in the Discussion Board below.


Evaluating Thesis Statements

Activity One

Write A beside each sentence that is an announcement rather than a thesis statement. Write Ok beside the statement in each pair that is a clear, limited point that could be developed in a n essay.

_____(a) This essay will discuss the people you meet in anexercise class.

_____ (b) The kinds of workout clothes worn in my aerobics class identify "jocks", "strugglers", and "princesses".

2. _____ (a) I made several mistakes in the process of trying to win the love and respect of my teenage step son.

______ (b) My thesis in this paper is relationships between stepparents and stepchildren.

3.______ (a) A period of loneliness can teach you to use your creativity, sort out your values, and feel empathy for others.

_______ (b) Loneliness is the subject of this paper.

Activity Two

Write TN beside each statement that is too narrow to be developed in an essay. Write Ok beside the statement in each pair that is a clear, limited point.

_____ (a) I had squash, tomatoes, and corn in my garden.

_____ (b) Vegetable gardening can be very frustrating.

2. _____ (a) The main road into our town is lined with billboards.

______ (b) For several reasons billboards should be abolished.

3. ______(a) There are now more single parents in our country than ever before.

______ (b) Organization is the key to being a successful single parent.

Activity Three

Write TB beside each statement that is too broad to be developed in an essay. Write OK beside the statement in each pair that is a clear, limited point.

_____ (a) In many ways, ssports are an important part of American life.

_____ (b) Gambling has changed professional football for the worse.

2. _____ (a) Modern life makes people suspicious and unfriendly.

______ (b) A fightening experience in my neighborhood has caused me to be a much more cautious person in several ways.

3. _____ (a) Toys ads on television teach children to be greedy, competitive ,and snobbish.

______ (b) Advertising has bad effects on all society.

Activity Four

For each pair, write 2 beside the statement that contains more than one idea. Write OK beside the statement that is a clear, limited point.

____ (a)Working with old people changed my ideas about the elderly.

_____ (b) My life has moved in different directions since the rewarding job I had working with older people last summer.

2. _____ (a) The new architecture on this campus is very unpleasant, although the expansion was badly needed.

______ (b) Our new college library building is ugly, intimidating and inefficient.

3. _____ (a) My roommate and I are compatible in most ways, but we still have conflicts at times.

______ (b) My roommate has his own unique systems for studying, writing term papers, and cleaning our room.

Activity Five

Support the thesis statement with specific evidence

Following are 3 informal outlines. Complete them by adding a third logical supporting point that supports the thesis statement and parallels the two already provided (a) and (b).

Thesis Statement: My mother has three qualities I admire.

(a) Patience

(b) Thoughtfulness

(c) _____________

2. ____________ is the worst j...

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