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An Introduction to the Graphic Syllabus

Katherine M. Sauer Metropolitan State College of Denver ksauer5@mscd.edu
Economics Teaching Conference October 27th – 28th 2011 New Orleans, LA

How I became interested … personal frustration push for assessment

constant emails asking questions for which the answers are clearly stated in the syllabus

link course objectives to learning activities to assessment

critical examination of my syllabi

An Analysis of My Syllabus
 basic course and instructor information  official course description (jargon) Introduction to the principles of economics, with an emphasis on individual economic units. Topics include …  course objectives (jargon) demonstrate graphically the production possibility frontier, market equilibrium dynamics, …

 list of course prerequisites and expected skills …how to do algebraic calculations, understand graphs, and communicate clearly both verbally and in written form (what if they don’t have these skills?)  required course materials This course utilizes an online product called Aplia. Through Aplia, you will receive an electronic copy of the text book and you will complete your homework assignments online. Instructions for purchasing and accessing Aplia can be found on the last page of the syllabus. (no mention of actual text or author)

 components of course grade In class assignments will vary in nature. They will be worked on in groups during class time and will not be announced in advance. If you are not prepared for class or are not contributing to your group, you will be asked to work alone. No make ups are given. You are allowed to drop two in class assignment grades. - “procedural” descriptions - imperative language

 course and institutional policies (this section gets longer every year …)  course schedule - chapter titles, by week

My thoughts on my syllabus: - long - boring - authoritative - not very “me” - not reflective of my actual class

I wouldn’t want to take my own class !!

Is my syllabus the reason that my students don’t refer to my syllabus?

“[Syllabi] list the assigned readings but not reasons why the subject is worth studying

or important or interesting or deep,
or the learning strategies that will be used in the course.”

“What such syllabi often omit is any mention of learning.”
Singham, Mano (2007) Death to the Syllabus! Liberal Education. 93(4): 52-56

My Original Principles of Microeconomics Syllabus

http://www.wordle.net/

(where is the learning?)

Learning Objectives for Today’s Presentation on the Graphic Syllabus
define the term “graphic syllabus”

identify examples of graphic syllabi

explain rationale for using graphic syllabi

transform existing syllabi into graphic syllabi

apply graphic techniques to text

What is a Graphic Syllabus?

A graphic syllabus is…
… a flowchart or diagram that displays the sequencing and organization of major course topics through the semester. Much like a concept map or mind map, it uses spatial arrangement … to show the logical, temporal progression of the course … In addition, it may – but need not – use icons, pictures, and visual metaphors to convey the meaning of words, concepts, and relationships.
The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course by Linda Nilson (Jossey-Bass, 2007) page 26

Fundamental Economic Principles
How Markets Work
weeks 2 - 4 -why we use markets (ch 3) -supply and Demand (ch 4 &5) -measuring economic well-being (ch 7)

Government Intervention in Markets
weeks 5 - 6 -price controls (ch 6) -taxes on goods and services (ch 8) -international restrictions (ch9)

Markets
Advanced Applications
weeks 13 - 14 -labor market (ch 18) -consumer choice theory (ch 21 )

When Markets Fail
week 7 -externalities (ch 10) -public Goods (ch 11)

Markets & Competition
weeks 9 - 12 -production, costs and profits (ch 13) -competitive markets (ch 14) -monopoly markets (ch 15) -other types of competition (ch 16,- 17)

(my micro course)

http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/syllabus/samples-creative/ BayesianMethodsSyllabus.pdf

The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course by Linda Nilson (Jossey-Bass, 2007) page 46

http://www46.homepage.villanova.edu/john.immerwahr/TP101/Prep/Graphic_ syls.pdf

Why should I consider using a graphic syllabus in my course?

Syllabi serve several important purposes, the most basic of which is to communicate the instructor’s course design to students. - goals - organization - policies - expectations - requirements

Carnegie Mellon University website

(accessed 10/15/2011)

http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/syllabus/index.html

Other functions served by a syllabus include: - To convey our enthusiasm for the topic - To show how this course fits into the big picture - To set the tone for the course - To help students assess their readiness for the course by identifying prerequisite areas of knowledge - To help students manage their learning by identifying outside resources and/or providing advice

Carnegie Mellon University website

(accessed 10/15/2011)

http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/syllabus/index.html

Learner-Centered Syllabus
- focus on the learning process
 The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach by Judeth Grunert O’Brein, Barbara Millis, and Margaret Cohen (Jossey-Bass, 2008, 2nd edition)  Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice by Maryellen Weimer (Jossey-Bass, 2002)

 Developing Learner-Centered Teaching: A Practical Guide for Faculty by Phyllis Blumberg (Jossey-Bass, 2008)

How can I best communicate my course to my learners?
Who are my learners? - discipline novices - millennial generation

How to reach discipline novices? - reduce jargon - give them a really good map

How to reach millennials? - net generation (visual)

graphic syllabus

Side Note: An Annotated Syllabus helps track your thinking about course design and teaching.  Why are your policies the way that they are?  Why are you asking what you are asking?  Why did you structure the course in the way you did?  How did a learning activity go?

Metro State’s Center for Faculty Development: http://metrofacultydevelopment.pbworks.com/w/page/33934299/Ho me%20Page%20for%20Annotated%20Syllabi

Text vs Visual Information
This:
There are several learning objectives for today’s presentation on the Graphic Syllabus. At the end of the session, the successful participant will be able to transform an existing syllabus into a graphic syllabus. To this end, the presentation will include the definition of the term “graphic syllabus”, several examples of graphic syllabi, rationale for using a graphic syllabus, and an overview of techniques for turning a text syllabus into a graphic syllabus.

or this:

More Reasons
 dual-coding material into memory The mind has two memories: semantic = verbal episodic = visual-spatial
Graphics allow concepts to be stored in both memories.  graphics convey information more efficiently than text individual elements relationship between elements
Nilson’s The Graphic Syllabus pages 19-20

More Reasons
 use as a reference throughout the course - I use it to remind students where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going
 helped me link my topics to learning objectives … ultimately to assessment  the content is now “front and center” in my syllabus - before it was hidden in jargon-y descriptions and a linear course topic list

How do I create my own graphic syllabus?

Look at your course topics …
How the Topics Looked on My Syllabus Intro to economics / models Specialization and trade Supply and demand Elasticity Efficiency of markets Price Controls Taxes Tariffs Externalities Public Goods Production Perfect Competition Monopoly Monopolistic Competition Oligopoly Factor Markets Consumer Choice

How the Topics Look in My Mind

Ways to Organize Information
A government may intervene in the economy in a variety of ways: price mechanisms, regulation, financing the provision of goods or services, or directly producing goods or services.
price mechanisms

regulation government intervention

finance provision of goods

direct provision of goods

price mechanisms

regulations

government intervention
finance provision of goods direct provision of goods

price mechanisms

regulations

direct provision of goods

finance provision of goods

government intervention

government intervention

price mechanisms

regulations

finance provision

direct provision

price mechanisms

regulations government intervention finance provision of good

direct provision of good

Fundamental Economic Principles
How Markets Work
weeks 2 - 4 -why we use markets (ch 3) -supply and Demand (ch 4 &5) -measuring economic well-being (ch 7)

Government Intervention in Markets
weeks 5 - 6 -price controls (ch 6) -taxes on goods and services (ch 8) -international restrictions (ch9)

Markets
Advanced Applications
weeks 13 - 14 -labor market (ch 18) -consumer choice theory (ch 21 )

When Markets Fail
week 7 -externalities (ch 10) -public Goods (ch 11)

Markets & Competition
weeks 9 - 12 -production, costs and profits (ch 13) -competitive markets (ch 14) -monopoly markets (ch 15) -other types of competition (ch 16,- 17)

(my micro course)

Types of Structures  competition and complementarity - economic schools of thought - different theories for same concept  parallelism - theory & empirical results - concept & underlying mathematics  process - about a process - teach how to do a process
Nilson’s The Graphic Syllabus chapter 3

 sequence / chronology - based on logic - based on time

 categorical hierarchy

Nilson’s The Graphic Syllabus chapter 3

Accessing graphic features in Microsoft Word

Consider adding visual interest to other parts of your syllabus.

Consider adding learning objectives to your graphic syllabus.

How Markets Work weeks 2 - 4 -why we use markets (ch 3) -supply and Demand (ch 4 &5) -measuring economic well-being (ch 7) Learning Objective: Apply microeconomic analysis to evaluate economic events and/or problems.

From my intro course:

Public Finance

Let’s try it! Keep in mind:  There is not one “right way” to do this. - different types of road maps: scenic route, fastest route, specific sites, …  You already have a framework in your head for how the concepts fit together. - might identify “tacked on” subjects  Play around with variations. - iterative process - perfect is the enemy of the good

Topic List for Principles of Macroeconomics

Ten Principles of Economics Interdependence and the Gains from Trade Measuring a Nation's Income Production and Growth The Basic Tools of Finance The Monetary System Open-Economy Macroeconomics Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply Tradeoff between Inflation and Unemployment

Thinking Like an Economist Market Forces of Supply and Demand Measuring the Cost of Living Saving, Investment, Financial System Unemployment and Its Natural Rate Money Growth and Inflation Theory of the Open Economy Monetary and Fiscal Policy Debates over Macroeconomic Policy

Mankiw’s Brief Principles of Macroeconomics

The Macroeconomic Building Blocks
GDP inflation unemployment

How markets work

Long Run Economic Growth - productivity - market for funds The Monetary System - money and banking - the Federal Reserve - the money market The Open Economy - international trade - market for foreign exchange

A Model of the Economy as a Whole - GDP, inflation, and unemployment - government policy

Questions? Comments?

How to reach me: @yogiconomist Katie (Sauer) Hart ksauer5@mscd.edu 303-556-3037