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Step 3 – work on the syllabi

Once faculty develop a shared definition of student learning and a common conceptual framework for the program, the work to redesign student learning experiences begins. Most often it begins with the course syllabus. The syllabus communicates how student learning develops and progresses during the course. It also provides clarity about expectations and how student learning will be assessed. The master syllabus may require continuous revision as best practice changes. Therefore, the syllabus must be explicit about performance activities, the ways they are assessed, and any opportunities for students to revise and resubmit their work.

Step 4 – align instructional strategies

Once a course is constructed there is a need to align instructional strategies and techniques with course goals and embedded performance assessments. Diagnosis of current instructional approaches may be needed. One effective strategy is to set aside time for an instructional diagnosis and to invite students to participate in these sessions. Providing time for conversation among faculty can build connections that strengthen and enhance teaching. Providing time to attend local, regional and national conferences, engaging in research, and utilizing university faculty development centers are avenues that support excellence in teaching. Promoting better thinking using higher order thinking skills is central to the role of higher education. Thus increased awareness that problem-solving skills must be an integral part of the course delivery is important.

Final thoughts

The challenge to strengthen the preparation of school leaders is central to the school improvement conversation. As a result, school leader preparation programs are faced with increasing demands and mounting pressure to alter the content and structure of their programs.

As conversations proceed they invariably result in confronting long-standing norms about the role and function of higher education, about the freedom of individual faculty to design courses, and about collection and use of data that may reveal trends and patterns among courses and faculty that were never discussed.

The challenge is to maintain a focus on students and their need to be highly skilled, thoughtful practitioners able to both know and use the knowledge they acquire in their programs.


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Source:  OpenStax, Performance assessment in educational leadership programs; james berry and ronald williamson, editors. OpenStax CNX. Sep 26, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11122/1.1
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