Why Am I Teaching This Course? Setting Educational Objectives for Course Activities

Why Am I Teaching This Course?
Setting Educational Objectives for Course Activities
Harold I. Modell, 1993
In: Modell, H.I. and J.A.Michael, Eds.
Promoting Active Learning in the Life Science Classroom.
Annals New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 703
Vet Med Library Call No. QH315 P765, 1993

Reviewed by: Dr. S. Saiduddin

The title "Why Am I Teaching This Course?" attracted my attention to this article. This article brings out the importance of setting learning/teaching objectives in developing syllabus for a single course or a curriculum for a program. It discusses the importance of setting instructional goals for the best way to disseminate knowledge in a classroom and some pointers on the different methods (classroom activities) that can be utilized to deliver the knowledge.

The author presents four different sets of classroom approaches to presenting physiological concepts to life-science students. All of the methods incorporate some type of student involvement in the topic presented. Each approach has its own goal and activity. Student involvement in teaching basic physiological concepts is the common theme. The objective is formulated and appropriate methods are chosen to disseminate knowledge. Whether it is a live animal or a computer simulation, learning is achieved. In one instance the instructor asks the class to enumerate what they know about kidney function before embarking on the specifics of kidney tubule function. The outcome is that recollecting the general functions of the kidney before learning the specifics of tubule function through class participation enhances learning. In another set of teaching goals for a class in respiratory function, students use elastic materials such as balloons to learn the intraplueral pressure mechanics. The outcome is that the classroom activity enhanced learning a concept important to the respiratory mechanics. Setting goals and choosing appropriate classroom activity to communicate the subject is the take home message.

In the opinion of the author developing course objectives is analogous to conducting laboratory research (research hypothesis = teaching goals; experimental methods = teaching tools and activities; conducting experiment = conducting classroom activity according to the goals; data collection and analysis = classroom assessment).