Using Organization to Streamline Courses
Organizing Content to Increase Representation, Expression, and Engagement
Dr. Carolyn Dunn
East Carolina University
Dr. Douglas Schneider
Department of Accounting
East Carolina University
College students give high marks to faculty who organize their classes so that students are well-informed about all aspects of the course including the assignments.
At East Carolina University (ECU), two of the professors lauded by students for creating highly organized courses use different approaches to achieve the same goal: delivering content clearly and consistently to help students succeed. Dr. Douglas Schneider, an accounting professor, has developed his own materials over the years, culminating in photocopied "textbooks"—lecture packets for the course that work in conjunction with the rest of the coursework.
Dr. Carolyn Dunn, an assistant professor who teaches technical writing in the Department of Technology Systems, delivers coursework online in folders, which are posted weekly. Each folder contains a PowerPoint on that week’s lecture. It also includes instructions for a writing assignment, accompanied by an example to help students get started. Students in distance-learning classes receive an extra component—the lecture delivered as a video.
By organizing courses so that students understand what’s expected and are better able to navigate the course, and by presenting lectures in a clear manner, professors help create an environment that’s conducive to learning (Carroll & O’Donnell, 2010). By organizing their courses effectively, Drs. Dunn and Schneider help boost student learning. One research study indicated that university students rank organization as one of the most important traits faculty can possess (Boex, 2000).
Each of the College STAR modules includes a concept map, giving readers an overview of the module content. (A concept map represents information or concepts in a graphical format.) The concept maps show the links between the instructional practice in the module, possible outcomes, and, in some cases, the principles of Universal Design for Learning, known as UDL.
Figure 1, the concept map shown below, illustrates the instructional practice in this module, which is
Clicking on the concept map, Figure 1, will enlarge the image.
There are multiple ways to navigate College STAR modules. Clicking on the sidebar menu takes you directly to the main sections and subsections of the module.
Navigation features located at the top and bottom of each screen allow you to move through the module. Clicking on the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the module screen takes you directly to previously viewed parts of the module, as shown below in Figure 2 in the example from the Charting Student Information module.
Figure 2: A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page. A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page.
The navigation arrows at the bottom of each screen take you to the previous or next components of the module. The menu link at the bottom of each screen takes you to the top of the screen where you may view the menu sidebar as shown in Figure 3 below.
Figure 3: Navigation links are also located at the bottom of each page of a module.
Additionally, some links within the text lead to other sections of the module. Please use your preferred method of navigation to proceed to the next section about Universal Design for Learning (UDL).