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Winter Mini-Term

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Instructional Resources for WMT

Mini-Terms provide unique opportunities to re-envision course instruction for a shortened, intensive model. This page is designed to provide a series of resources to help instructors think through these possibilities to maximize student learning in condensed courses.

Successful condensed-format courses are learning outcome-oriented and when done well: fosters academic achievement, stimulates group discussion, improves social interaction between instructors and students and/or between peers, promotes active learning, and incorporates creative teaching techniques (Gaubatz, 2003; Kops, 2014).

For many instructors, one of the major challenges is taking a typical 15-week course and condensing the content while maintaining the quality of the course and the learning. To ensure that students can still achieve the same learning outcomes as a traditional semester, faculty must make thoughtful and intentional modifications to meet course objectives effectively.

The Backward Design model provides an excellent framework for designing a condensed course. Wiggens and McTighe (1998) describe the three steps involved in backward design:

  1. Identify desired results. What should students know and be able to do at the end of the course? These are your learning outcomes.
  2. Determine acceptable evidence of knowledge, skills, and abilities for those learning outcomes. These are your formative and summative assessments.
  3. Plan learning experiences, instruction, and resources that will promote those skills, abilities, and knowledge.

This model encourages instructors to build the course around student learning outcomes, rather than around topics. Instead of “What topics do I need to cover?” the leading question is, “What knowledge, skills, and attitudes do my students need to develop?”

Check out the below resources to help you prepare for teaching a mini-term course:

The following document explores three different models for designing and developing a mini-term course. The three identified models include: Group project-based courses, experiential learning courses and traditional assessment-based courses.

Designing a Condensed Course

Additionally, the following document walks through strategies for conducting assessments for condensed courses:

Assessment Strategies for Mini-Terms

The following documents provide active learning models for 3-hour class periods. As mini-term courses typically meet five consecutive days for three hours each, these resources provide different ways to promote engagement in these longer course sessions.

Individual or Directed Research

Group Discussion or Projects

Experiential Learning

Throughout the Fall semester, the Office of Information Technology, Teaching & Learning Innovation, and Office of Online Learning & Academic Programs will provide a series of trainings to support instructors in thinking about online course design. These sessions will begin on Tuesday, October 12th.

  • Week 1 (Oct 12 & 13): Course Consolidation Strategies: How to Capture the Essential Components of Your Course and Deliver Them in a Shortened Time Period
    • Tune in to listen to experienced faculty and knowledgeable staff members discuss strategies for reshaping a 16-week course into a 3 week course. Best practices, experiences, and lessons learned from others who have done this successfully will be shared.
  • Week 2 (Oct 19 & 20): Assessment in Online Consolidated Courses: Effective Ways to Approach the Process of Capturing Student Learning
    • We realize that assessing online courses is different than assessing in-person courses, but what about courses that are 3 weeks long and online? Consider attending this session to learn more about effective ways to measure the learning taking place in your shortened online course. Strategies, approaches, and tips from experienced faculty and staff members will be shared.
  • Week 3 (Oct 26 & 27): Experiential-Based Courses: How to Clarify, Collaborate, and Connect the Community to Your Online Classroom
    • It can be a challenge to connect your classroom to the community in modern, effective, and impactful ways. Therefore, this session will feature tips and approaches that could help you decide how far to go in order to incorporate the community into your class, and how far you need to go in order to achieve the results you seek for your students. We will have experienced faculty members and staff on hand to provide you with insights for making this happen.
  • Week 4 (Nov 2 & 3): Group Project-Based Online Courses: How to Prep, Plan, and Persist Using Team Based Pedagogies
    • Online courses offer unique opportunities for connecting students to one another in vibrant and modern ways. Knowing this, how do we ensure that our students learn together, and also have opportunities to work in groups, in order to educate one another throughout the shortened terms? This session will provide you with opportunities to learn from experienced faculty members regarding how they successfully navigated group projects and discussions in their classes, and utilized software and tools to connect their student to one another along the way.
  • Week 5 (Nov 9 & 10): Traditional Assessment Based Courses: Efficient Strategies for Evolving from Lectures to Learning
    • What does a traditional assessment focused online course look like in a shortened term? How do I ensure that my course is rigorous, yet “fun” for my students? How can I capture evidence of meeting course learning objectives without stressing students out with daily assessments and stressing myself out with mountains of grading?  Attend this session to learn more about ways  you can ensure that your course is rigorous, while also maximizing the time and space for your research and other needs.
  • Week 6 (Nov 16 & 17): Expect the Unexpected: Navigating Changes to Produce Innovative Results
    • A lot of unexpected things can happen in a shorted online course, and there are many faculty members who have made the leap before you to recreate their course to fit into a condensed model. Come learn from these experienced faculty members about their challenges and how they overcame them related to rebuilding their course for mini-term.

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Gaubatz, N. (2003). Course scheduling formats and their impact on student learning. The National Teaching and Learning Forum.

Kops, W. (2014). Teaching compressed-format courses: Teacher-based best practices, Canadian  Journal of University Continuing Education, 40(1), 1-18.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.