Course Collaboration Project—Part 2 (Goals)

This is the second installment in a series of posts on collaboration between Patrick Bahls and me. Today’s topic is “goals.”

I am astounded how frequently professors plan courses without expliciting stating the goals for the course. I include myself in this group—I certainly did not do this for multivariable calculus last semester. Still, I rarely hear people discuss this aspect.

Below are a list of my goals for any course I teach. I hope to reference each of these when creating the course—any feature that goes into the course should support one of these goals, and (ideally) all of these goals will be supported. Note that these goals are a variation of Deborah Meier’s goals, although they are not identical. The first goal will have to do with facts, while the others will be habits. My experience is that, without making a concerted effort to think about goals, professors only concentrate on the first, “facty” goal.

  1. Students should learn about the content specific to the course. In my case, it would be “abstract algebra.” My next post will be on this goal.
  2. Students should learn good communication skills. Students should be able to write and speak clearly and concisely. They should also be able to read and listen to others. They should be in the habit of refining their communication regularly to improve communication (i.e. there should be at least two drafts of any sort of formal communication).
  3. Students should be in the habit of using and requiring evidence. Students should justify any assertion they make, and students should require that others do the same (this is my favorite goal).
  4. Students should be in the habit of considering perspectives. Students should consider how other people think. They do not necessarily need to agree with others’ perspectives, but they should recognize that and how other people may view things differently (this can be difficult to achieve in a mathematics class, but it is far from impossible).
  5. Students should be in the habit of looking for connections. Students should automatically attempt to find similarities among different ideas they have learned.
  6. Students should be in the habit of applying supposition. Rather than only considering what has been presented, students should regularly “tweak” ideas to see how things change. “Suppose not A but rather B—what happens then?”

These goals are my current conception of what is important in education. I will plan to incorporate all of these goals in my course, and I will plan to omit other aspects that are not important.

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One Response to “Course Collaboration Project—Part 2 (Goals)”

  1. Should we fire bad teachers? « Solvable by Radicals Says:

    […] if these are the goals we want (note: you can probably tell, especially if you have read previous posts, is that I think that we should have different educational goals that what we are actually […]

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