The initial call for change

In 2018, the research core curriculum director (my boss at GWU) and I decided we wanted to attempt a course re-design. She had for some time wanted to develop a course that would scaffold students through material to better guide and assess student learning and development through each module.

We conceived splitting each module (one per week) into three phases:

  • 1) introduction – reinforcing previously learnt material, and ensuring students were comfortable with the base ideas that would be developed in the module.
  • 2) knowledge development – guided learning through a series of lectures and activities.
  • 3) reinforcement of the main ideas and review

Each of the phases would be made up of a different balance of lessons, collaborative activities, assigned readings, and assessments (mini-quizzes). This initial conception kept the status quo curriculum in place, and simply was a change to the learning environment.

However, neither of us were perfectly happy with the current curriculum. I had been making small changes to the course with increasing frequency – rewriting assignments, rerecording lessons, and rewriting test questions – as I gained experience and became more familiar with statistics education research literature. This resulted in the fall 2018 version of the course being almost unrecognizable compared to the fall 2016 version.

Fueled by the creative opportunity provided by our re-design initiative, as a thought exercise we decided imagine what we wanted to teach with as close to a carte blanche as feasible.

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