Idea-Based Learning

A Course Design Process to Promote Conceptual Understanding

October 2011
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    17th October 2011
  • ISBN 9781579226145
  • Language English
  • Pages 226 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images figures
October 2011
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    10th October 2011
  • ISBN 9781579226138
  • Language English
  • Pages 226 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images figures
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March 2012
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    12th March 2012
  • ISBN 9781579226152
  • Language English
  • Pages 226 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images figures
E-Book (ePub)
March 2012
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    12th March 2012
  • ISBN 9781579226169
  • Language English
  • Pages 226 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images figures

Synthesizing the best current thinking about learning, course design, and promoting student achievement, this is a guide to developing college instruction that has clear purpose, is well integrated into the curriculum, and improves student learning in predictable and measurable ways.

The process involves developing a transparent course blueprint, focused on a limited number of key concepts and ideas, related tasks, and corresponding performance criteria; as well as on frequent practice opportunities, and early identification of potential learning barriers.

Idea-based Learning takes as its point of departure the big conceptual ideas of a discipline that give structure and unity to a course and even to the curriculum, as opposed to a focus on content that can lead to teaching sequences of loosely-related topics; and aligns with notions of student-centered and outcomes-based learning environments.

Adopting a backwards design model, it begins with three parallel processes: first, identifying the material that is crucial for conceptual understanding; second, articulating a clear rationale for how to choose learning outcomes based on student needs and intellectual readiness; and finally, aligning the learning outcomes with the instructional requirements of the authentic performance tasks.

The resulting syllabi ensure cohesion between sections of the same course as well as between courses within a whole curriculum, assuring the progressive development of students’ skills and knowledge.

Key elements of IBL include:
* Helping students see the big picture
* Building courses around one or more authentic performance tasks that illuminate the core concepts of the discipline
* Clearly identifying performance criteria for all tasks
* Incorporating practice in the competencies that are deemed important for students’ success
* By placing the onus of learning on the student, liberating faculty to take on the role of learning coaches
* Designing tasks that help students unlearn simplistic ideas and replace them with improved understandings

Edmund Hansen expertly guides the reader through the steps of the process, providing examples along the way, and concluding with a sample course design document and syllabus that illustrate the principles he propounds.

"For Scholars of religious studies and philosophy, Idea-Based Learning has much to commend it. It is not directed towards any specific discipline; instead, Hansen has included examples from across the curriculum. Hansen's book is readable and thought-provoking. It does not bog down the reader with excessive theory or debate, but rather seeks to be a concise guidebook for course design. It is an excellent starting point for new teachers, while also offering something to those more seasoned in the classroom. Finally, his work provides enough context that the reader is encouraged to move beyond this particular work in order to gain further depth into one's own reflection on teaching."

Forrest Clingerman, Ohio Northern University - Teaching Theology & Religion

"Marr and Forsyth have written a very accessible and readable volume, one that is brief and yet comprehensive enough to adequately introduce the reader to the subject. Further, the explanations of the current milieu of higher education in the U.K. as well as the role of academics within this are lucid and helpful. those who are considering entering the world of higher education in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland will certainly find this book valuable, particularly those interested in a career in teaching. Indeed, those considering postgraduate study in the U.K. may also wish to consult this volume, as it helpfully describes the lay of the academic landscape."

Bradford A. Anderson, M - Teaching Theology & Religion

"A guide to course design that emphasizes a starting point of big conceptual ideas within a discipline."

- The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Much of course design consists of stringing together related topics in a linear fashion. This excellent book shows how to identify one or two central ideas and organize the course around them, so that topic selection, teaching practices, and assessments all converge to advance attainment of those ideas, and deep learning, improved critical thinking, and other valued skills emerge naturally as outcomes. Full of examples and practical suggestions, it provides invaluable step-by-step guidance that will benefit both novice and veteran teachers.”

Mano Singham, author of God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom and Director, University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education - , Case Western Reserve University

“In Idea-Based Learning Edmund Hansen shows faculty how college courses need to be designed! Hansen has the blueprint we all need to follow if we are to put together courses that will produce meaningful and long-lasting learning for our students."

Terry Doyle is the Chief Instructor for Faculty Development and Coordinator of the New Faculty Transition Program, Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning - , Ferris State University

1) Practical Benefits of Course Design
Faculty Stressors in Teaching
Benefits From Idea-based Course Design

2) Backward Design
Traditional Course Design
Critique of the Traditional Design
The Backward Design Model
The Importance of Course Design

3) Learning Outcomes
Problems With (Conceptualizing) Learning Outcomes
Identifying Big Ideas
Deriving Enduring Understandings
Determining Learning Outcomes

4) Critical Thinking
Significance of Critical Thinking
Lay Definitions of Critical Thinking
The Confusing State of the Critical Thinking Literature
Need for Teaching Critical Thinking
Barrier 1: Intellectual Development
Barrier 2: Habits of Mind
Barrier 3: Misconceptions
Barrier 4: Complex Reasoning

5) Content, Part 1: Guiding Questions and Concepts
Two parts of Course Content
Essential Questions
Guiding Concepts
Course Content and Critical Thinking

6) Assessment, Part 1: Educative Assessment
Assessment for Grading
Assessment for Learning
A Continuum of Assessments
Assessment as Coaching
Principles of Assessing for Understanding

7) Assessment, Part 2: Rubrics
Examples of Assignments Lacking Clear Criteria
The Main Parts of a Rubric
Sample Rubric: Critical Thinking
Common Misunderstandings About Rubrics
The Triple Function of Rubrics

8) Content, Part 2: Learning Experiences
Examples of Poor Assignments
Authentic Performance Tasks
Assignment-Centered Instruction
Assignment-Related Competencies
Building Block Designs
Principles for Designing Effective Learning Experiences
Student Involvement in the Pedagogy

9) Course Design Document
Why Create Course Design Documents?
Elements of the Course Design Document
Sample Design Document: Psychology 624 - Theories of Motivation
Summary of Course Design Features and Benefits
Translating the Course Design Document Into a Syllabus

10) Implementing Course Design With Online Technology
Key Characteristics of Online Teaching
Course Design Elements Enhanced by Online Technology


Syllabus for PY-624:Theories of Motivation Course

Edmund J. Hansen

Edmund J. Hansen has been the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Northeastern Illinois University since its inception in 2001. Before joining NEIU, he worked in faculty development for over twelve years, half of that time at Indiana University in Bloomington, and the other half at Emporia State University in Kansas. In Emporia, he was the founding director of the Teaching Enhancement Center and also an assistant professor in the psychology department. For seven years, Edmund served as President of the Chicago Area Faculty Development Network (CAFDN), a consortium of faculty development offices at both two and four-year institutions in the region. He has published articles and book chapters related to the improvement of college teaching, including the integration of instructional technology into the classroom. He is originally from Germany, where he worked in adult education. Edmund has a PhD in Educational Psychology from Indiana University, and Masters Degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and from the University of Aachen, Germany.

higher education; postsecondary teaching; course design; backwards design; critical thinking; syllabus; rubrics; online teaching; authentic assignments