So, I’ve very recently learned (from a student!) about the ADDIE model for instructional design, and I think it makes sense to follow that model here. Let’s talk about the analysis phase!
Much of this actually happened more than half a year ago, so this account is probably edited with a bit of hindsight. Last summer I volunteered to take over the first half (10 lectures) of our 1st year introductory biochemistry lecture. As a biochemistry graduate I had a rush of nostalgia thinking about topics like lipid structures that I had not come across in my research for a while. Apart from the desire to go back to my roots, as well as to be seen to be taking on more teaching while I had the opportunity to choose what interested me, I was also keen to try the lecture flipping approach discussed in an earlier post.
The class is compulsory for all but a handful of our year 1 life science students and this semester had about 530 students enrolled (not that one ever sees that many). About 100 of these are biochemists “by name” while the rest vary in the degree of enthusiasm about chemistry and molecular life sciences in general. When I first met the students I asked who disliked chemistry or felt very insecure about it, versus who thought it was a piece of cake. There were many more in the first camp. It is safe to assume that for the majority biochemistry is something they grin and bear somehow rather than expect to enjoy. Some, but not many, brought very good A-level chemistry knowledge. For the purposes of instructional design, it’s safe to consider them novices. There was my challenge!
The unit has been very well run for years and I had an experienced colleague to guide me. Having looked through the material and the six-page list of detailed learning objectives (just for “my” half of the course!), it struck me how much factual “stuff” has to be learned. Of course it was no different in my student days. Somehow the memorization of amino acid structures and metabolic pathways is a character-building rite of passage. The dilemma is that there’s only time to teach the “stuff”, and we keep our fingers crossed that deep understanding of concepts and the ability to apply that conceptual knowledge to new problems come as a byproduct.