The University of Lethbridge Master of Education in Curriculum and Assessment Program held its first annual Curriculum Design Challenge Day on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The event, co-hosted by the University of Lethbridge AGILITY Program, challenged participants to propose a new vision for the curriculum of the first professional semester (PSI) in the Faculty of Education.
Dr. David Slomp and Dr. Amy von Heyking (Faculty of Education) organized the Challenge Day with the intention of providing participants the opportunity to propose new solutions to a specific and real-world curriculum challenge. Partnering with the U of L AGILITY Program, which focuses on providing innovative and entrepreneurial learning experiences for students, the Curriculum Design exercise allowed 45 University of Lethbridge master's students to apply their knowledge and experience to offer creative and innovative solutions for post-secondary curriculum.
“The enthusiasm was infectious and the students shared creative and inspiring solutions for the problem presented,” says Dr. Lesley Brown, Vice-Provost & Associate VP Academic. “The event reinforced that opportunities for innovation span many disciplines, and that students are well-equipped to bring unique, varied ideas to the table in a real-world approach.”
The idea behind Challenge Day and the Inspiring Education initiative isn’t radical.
“In many ways, the event focused on answering perennial questions about how to make education relevant for kids, and how we are connecting with learners so they see that there are authentic ways to demonstrate what they have learned and why it matters,” says von Heyking.
The panel of judges for the event was selected based on their expertise and involvement in developing education:
· Dr. Lesley Brown, Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President (Academic), University of Lethbridge
· Amber Darroch, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Horizon School Division
· Dr. Dawn Burleigh, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge
· Melissa Gough, Education Undergraduate Student Association Executive Committee Member, University of Lethbridge
Challenge Day participants commented on how the biggest challenge of the day, besides the five-hour time limit, was throwing away preconceived ideas and structures that the Faculty of Education has for students entering their PSI.
“For me, it was interesting to think about what is education, what is its purpose and from that, what should a teacher look like. It was cool to just throw away everything that you know already and just create a whole new vision,” says Calvin de Haan, first year Master of Education in Curriculum and Assessment student.
Participants were encouraged to use their personal experiences to propose changes to the current PSI structure based on problems that they encountered as student teachers and as current education professionals mentoring student teachers.
“One of the things that stood out to me was that our opinions were being valued. I really felt that they were interested in what we had to say,” says Lisa Paton, first year Master of Education in Curriculum and Assessment student.
The winning team of Curriculum Design Challenge Day consisted of Sara Jans, Heidi Paterson, Bob Vanderbeek, Josie Hammond, Fleur Sweetman, Kaeli New and Morgan Schaufele. Their solution to innovating PSI was to develop competent education professionals by focusing on relational intelligence, self-awareness and regulation, and sensitivity to context and situation.
The ideas and visions generated from the event will be presented to faculty members to provide different perspectives on how U of L Faculty of Education Professional Semesters will be done in the future.