Sunday, August 16, 2009

Course Approach/Goals

About three quarters of the course will be devoted to foundational material. The remaining one quarter of the course will be a class project done collectively. The belief is that irrespective of the field these students will ultimately find themselves in, many of them will devote a significant amount of their work time to design for change in their field of endeavor. The course aim is to provide the students with frameworks in which to consider that challenge. The final project is meant to ground those frameworks in an actual design for change.

The foundational material itself will be partitioned into three parts, each with some defining questions. Part 1, meant to serve as motivation, considers some examples. What does effective change look like and can it be contrasted meaningfully with other practices that are less effective? Part 2 focuses on learning of the individual. What do we know about learning, how can we encourage students to learn and think about their own learning, and what are the main impediments to deep learning? Part 3 focuses on the organization and management of the organization. How does learning happen in an organization and in the community that the organization serves, how can such learning be encouraged, what needs to happen culturally to promote this type of learning, and why do some organizations not learn and hence fail?

The project we’ll consider is the possibility of implementing a Campus sanctioned program of peer mentoring, aimed at encouraging students to immerse themselves in their own learning and at countering the alienating effects of large class instruction. We’ll consider the case where more experienced students mentor their junior peers and eschew the alternative where the mentoring happens between students taking the same class. We’ll ask how this might work for the benefit of the mentees, how to elicit participation of the mentors, how the program integrates with the planned instruction, and what will it take to get it started. Timing-wise, we’ll start in on some of the project content about midway through the course, while continuing with the foundational material till the course concludes.

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