I made it through the first run of my new course (FNFS 105: Elements of Anatomy and Physiology: Strategies for Success in Health Sciences)! During the spring semester, I maintained a journal of my thoughts on how each class went in the pilot of FNFS 105. A new name is definitely in the works, as most students (and myself) had trouble remembering the incredibly long name we had given the course.
At first, writing a journal entry for each class seemed manageable, but then I hit midterm and became so busy it was hard to find time to sit and write. I ended up filing in some of the missing pieces at the end of the semester (and beyond), making some of the later reflections less valuable than the initial ones. However, I did take away some important lessons from this experience. I was doing what I was asking the students to do, although their reflections were much shorter. At the time, the writing was challenging, but now that I am reading over my notes I am finding them invaluable for planning the next run of the course. The students have mentioned that they also found the reflections hard to write at first, but by the end of the semester they were comfortable with the process and enjoyed looking back to see what they had accomplished.
My reflections ended up being useful in a way I hadn’t intended. In the spring (May) I was invited to participate in CIEL’s Council for Learning. I joined a group that would focus on experiential learning and chose my FNFS 105 class as the target for introducing more experiential learning. I used my reflections from the first run of the course as a discussion starter with CIEL staff (in July) that were helping with the experiential team. From the reflections, I realized I needed to change the order of topics, and spread some of the topics (such as how to ask questions) throughout the course. Another very large change to the course was a student mash-up between my class and Dr. Mattar’s PHED 201 class. Our students will be working together to create digital learning resources for the online textbook we both use. His students provide the content knowledge and mine the best way to learn the content. We’ll see how it goes!