story by Claire Miller
Assistant Professor Karie Brown decided to teach a co-created mathematics education course that would include regular feedback from her students about what they wanted to gain from the class.
She started by reviewing student course evaluations, conducting interviews with former students and soliciting input from fellow college faculty. This feedback helped her set the syllabus and structure for the class, which prepares elementary teachers to teach mathematics and reinforces teachers’ mathematics knowledge.
Once the course began, Brown told students to speak up about things she could do to improve their learning experience. She also asked them to participate in an informal evaluation one-third of the way through the semester to determine which elements were working well.
Brown wrote about her experiences with teaching this co-created course in a chapter of a book entitled, “Student-Focused Learning and Assessment: Involving Students in the Learning Process in Higher Education.”
Developing the co-created class illuminated some of the challenges in this model of teaching. For example, students often preferred the field experiences and hands-on lessons to the readings they did for class. This can be frustrating for faculty members who want students to understand the educational theories and best practices they need to be successful teachers.
It can be difficult to implement changes during the semester or for students to give honest feedback to the person deciding their grades. However, Brown found that regular student feedback is vital to ensuring future teachers get the most out of their college coursework.
“Changes resulted in increased meaningfulness in the learning that occurred, as was represented in students more closely meeting course objectives compared to previous years,” Brown wrote. “In teacher education classrooms, where future teachers co-create their learning, we prepare them for taking ownership for their development.”