Is your course designed for instruction or learning?

Learning Paradigm
Learning Paradigm
Instruction Paradigm
Instruction Paradigm

A Checklist for Course Design and Course Evaluation

I use Barr’s and Tagg’s, A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education, Comparing Educational Paradigms Chart for guiding faculty through course design and students with effective course evaluation.  Items on my checklists are designed and modified from the following four (4) categories with items listed below. (The wording of checklist statements vary from instance to instance of use.) The 1995 article is given to faculty and students for discussion. Surprisingly, some students read it and, after class group discussions, give serious consideration to their course evaluation comments.  The students that read it are the group discussion leaders.  The article and chart are used for pre and post reviews of traditional, hybrid, and online courses by the faculty.  Article:  Robert B. Barr and John Tagg, From Teaching to Learning-A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education, Change, Vol.27. No. 6 (1995),

  1. Mission and Purposes

Instruction Paradigm

  • Provide/deliver instruction
  • Transfer knowledge from faculty to students
  • Offer courses and programs
  • Improve the quality of instruction
  • Achieve access for diverse students

Learning Paradigm

  • Produce learning
  • Elicit students discovery and construction of knowledge
  • Create powerful learning environments
  • Improve the quality of learning
  • Achieve success for diverse students student
  1. Criteria for Success

Instruction Paradigm

  • Learning varies
  • Inputs, resources
  • Quality of entering students
  • Curriculum development, expansion
  • Quantity and quality of resources
  • Enrollment, revenue growth
  • Quality of faculty, instruction

Learning Paradigm

  • Learning varies
  • Learning & student-success outcomes
  • Quality of exiting students
  • Learning technologies development
  • Quantity and quality of outcomes
  • Aggregate learning growth, efficiency
  • Quality of students, learning
  1. Teaching/Learning Structures

Instruction Paradigm

  • Atomistic; parts prior to whole
  • Time held constant, learning varies
  • 50-minute lecture,3-unit course
  • Classes start/end at same time
  • One teacher, one classroom
  • Independent disciplines, departments
  • Covering material
  • End-of-course assessment
  • Grading within classes by instructors

Learning Paradigm

  • Holistic; whole prior to parts
  • Learning held constant, time varies
  • Learning environments
  • Environment ready when student is
  • Whatever learning experience works
  • Cross discipline/department
  • Specified learning results
  • Pre/during/post assessments
  • External evaluations of learning
  • Public assessment
  • Degree equals demonstrated knowledge & skills
  1. Learning Theory

Instruction Paradigm

  • Knowledge exists “out there”
  • Knowledge comes in chunks and bits;
  • delivered by instructors and gotten by students

Learning Paradigm

  • Knowledge exists in each person’s mind and is shaped by individual experience

Comments and suggestions are encouraged.  How do you assure that your course designs focus on your students and learning?

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