Objectives and Assessment

Choose one of these learning objectives to teach explicitly in your 100- or 200-level class. While you might choose any of them, the most suitable choice would be an objective closely tied to the material you teach or the skills you most frequently ask students to use in your class (or one dear to your heart). So, for instance, if you have students read many primary sources in your class, you might want to teach students to apply the questions historians ask to extract information from a primary source (2c).

Teaching explicitly involves the following steps:

  1. Explicitly discussing in class the skill you want students to learn.
  2. Modeling the skill for the students (perhaps by performing the skill for them or walking them through the skill).
  3. Giving the students an opportunity to practice the skill.
  4. Assessing the degree to which the students have met the learning objectives.

Choosing to teach one skill explicitly, however, does not mean that this is all you should ask your students to do. David Perkins (Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education) argues that just as one wouldn't have a little league team only practice shagging flies and never play a game, students need to play the whole game. For us the skills drills simply focus on helping students to deploy one of the epistemic rules of our game more consciously and effectively. We'll all continue to ask them to do things we aren't teaching explicitly.