10 Habits of Highly Effective Unit Designers
Unit design involves planning and developing a unit of study for delivery, whether that is online, on-campus or blended. It involves making choices about what, when, where and how to teach while maintaining a focus on supporting students through the best possible learning experiences.
There are a series of steps to designing or redesigning an effective unit and some ‘habits’ to being an effective unit designer. We’ve provided guidance on each step that you can explore through the links, but first look over the graphic '10 Habits of Effective Unit Designers figure' and see which you identify with and those that perhaps you could develop more of.
Habit number 9 is ' they align everything' Biggs and Tang called this constructive alignment and it is an essential approach when planning your unit. At the basic level this means your learning outcomes, assessment and learning experiences are aligned and each works to support the other.
'In constructive alignment, we start with the outcomes we intend students to learn, and align teaching and assessment to those outcomes. The outcome statements contain a learning activity, a verb, that students need to perform to best achieve the outcome, such as “apply expectancy-value theory of motivation”, or “explain the concept of … “. That verb says what the relevant learning activities are that the students need to undertake in order to attain the intended learning outcome. Learning is constructed by what activities the students carry out; learning is about what they do, not about what we teachers do. Likewise, assessment is about how well they achieve the intended outcomes, not about how well they report back to us what we have told them or what they have read.'
The following documents can help you with unit design:
- A Guide to the Unit Details (UCMS)
- Designing for accessibility
- Embedding academic literacy support when designing curriculum
- Learning Activities
- Sequence, connect and recycle for success
- Unit Site Design in Blackboard
- Unit Writing Milestone Guidelines (Undergraduate)
- Blackboard Learning Site Design Checklist
- Example learning activities