Faculty enhance the student experience with course redesigns at GHC

Concepts like the application and integration of different motivating and reflective learning strategies, the creation of asynchronous interactive modules for the library, and metacognition and advanced online engagement strategies for students may, at first, seem difficult to understand – but, at the end of the day, faculty examining courses at Georgia Highlands College (GHC) have a singular goal in mind: make the student experience in GHC courses better.

The process for enhancing and redesigning courses to meet this goal has been a long and well-researched endeavor. Instructors participating in GHC’s Faculty Learning Committee (FLC) started looking for ways to increase student motivation and facilitate development of a “growth mindset.”

Last month, two dozen faculty presented their ideas to administration and peers during the college’s first “Best Practices in Teaching Symposium.”

Running the gamut of course offerings, presenters shared unique ideas to make courses more productive, thought provoking and effective for students and faculty alike.

“[The faculty] at GHC have been working on revising one or more of their courses based on what they have learned about motivation, mindset and/or metacognition during the Faculty Learning Committee,” School of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Division Chair Jayme Wheeler said. “The FLC has included reading ‘Teaching Students How to Learn’ by Dr. Saundra McGuire and two live presentations by Dr. McGuire.”

Soon after, FLC participants conducted course audits on the course they wished to redesign. They collected the course and/or module learning objectives, examined the assessments for alignment, authenticity and meaningfulness, as well as determined if their learning activities were aligned, engaging and motivating. Then, they used those results to help establish the direction of their course redesign.

“Some faculty have begun to make changes in their course(s) this semester,” Wheeler said. “For instance, one instructor implemented changes learned during the FLC in her second eight-week course that began in March. Many of the participants are planning for change that will occur in courses beginning either in the summer or fall semesters.”

Josie Baudier, who serves as director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, said the event was beneficial because participants learned how their colleagues were implementing these strategies into their courses.

“The hope is that our faculty will be invigorated to learn more about these strategies, and others, and will be able to reflect on how these strategies can be incorporated into their classes,” Baudier said.