Teach Philosophy 101
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"One of the most comprehensive, well-researched, and accessible guides for teachers that I have ever seen." James Lang, Chronicle of Higher Education (read full review of TΦ101)
Integrating Goals into Course, Syllabus, Assessment
Once you have a sense of your goals, it makes sense to integrate those goals into your syllabus at the front end of the course, to explicitly reference those goals during the course, and to assess them at the end of the semester. Below you will see an example of how this was done in one intro course at Villanova University.
Stage one: Goal Setting. The goals for Villanova's Introduction to Philosophy course were set by the department, although the choice of readings, within certain parameters, is left to the instructor. The goals are listed in the left column of the matrix below.
Stage two. Inclusion in Syllabus, Dissemination to Students. This matrix, based on the departmental goals, was developed (by John Immerwahr) for a section of Introduction to Philosophy, and was included in the syllabus. Our research on student evaluations shows that Villanova students place a high value on clearly knowing the goals of their course, so, at each major transition in the course, students were reminded of these goals and progress toward them was reviewed.
Stage three: Assessment. At the midpoint of the semester and at the end of the semester, the instructor administered this survey instrument, which was developed by the department.
To: Villanova Students enrolled in Introduction to Philosophy
For all questions please use a five point scale where: 5 = strongly agree, 1 = strongly disagree. If the question does not apply to you or to this course, just leave it blank.
This course helped me to . . .
A. improve my writing skills
B. improve my skills in reading difficult texts
C. improve skills in reasoning and thinking critically
D. improve my skills in expressing myself orally in class discussion
E. improve my understanding of philosophical questions and way of thinking
F. better understand Christian and/or Catholic ideas and perspectives
G. better understand the history of philosophy
H. better understand issues and questions in the contemporary world
I. better understand issues and questions in some of my courses outside of philosophy
Additional questions (also answer these in the Supplemental Questions Box, on five point scale where 5 = strongly agree, 1 = strongly disagree)
J. This course made me more interested in philosophy.
K. This course exposed me to the thinking of women and people of color.
M. I’m glad that I took this course.
Thank you for your participation. If you have additional comments please write them in the open ended comments box.
Slightly adapted from document produced by Villanova University Philosophy Department: 11/20/06
Update: June 23, 2008
Author: John Immerwahr