Developing Effective Course Standards

Instructor: Daniel Cooper

Dan has taught the entire Joint Military Communications Management package and has a master's degree in Adult Education.

In this lesson, you will learn the definition of course standards. Additionally, you will learn their purpose in education or training and the steps involved in developing a course standard to ensure the student meets established criteria to demonstrate proficiency in the subject.

What is a Course Standard?

At some time or another during our lives, each of us has sat in a classroom, listening to someone who sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher as she droned on about something which made no sense. Why did I take this class? Is there even a point to what she is saying? Is the clock broken? What we did not know at the time is that there was a reason the particular point was being made. It was like a piece of a large puzzle. Each piece, when put with other pieces, began to help us understand the subject better. When the whole puzzle is completed, we see the big picture and completely understand the subject. This is how course standards work. Simply stated, course standards are stated goals or criteria which a student must achieve by the end of the course. They are often found in a class's syllabus to let the students know what is expected of them.

Teachers consider the subject and what they want their students to know about it, based on the skill level achieved in the previous, lower level class. The course standards may be stated as learning objectives, such as, 'At the conclusion of this course the student will able to stateā€¦'. Since education is meant to be progressive, the class you are attending this year is likely a prerequisite for next year's more advanced class.

Instructional System Design

Although there are several ways to develop coursework, teachers and those developing the school's curriculum often use a five-step process called the Instructional System Design (ISD) model to build each individual class. The five steps are: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. The most commonly used acronym to remember the steps is ADDIE. During the Analyze phase, the course designers study what the students have already learned and where, by the end of the class, they should be. The designer needs to consider previous versions of the same lesson and see if they were adequate in preparing the students for the next level of difficulty in the subject. An example of this would be an ISD review of a Pre-Algebra class to ensure those taking it will be prepared to enter Algebra 1 the following year.

The second step is the Design phase. This is the strategic portion of the process and is when the goals are established. But let's remember the bored student we first talked about. How does the designer keep him interested? During the Design phase, the course designer might add some videos or a group exercise to keep the class engaged in learning.

The designer's third step is the Develop phase. This stage involves making and testing learning objectives - small goals broken down which enable the student to reach a larger goal. The course material itself is developed to ensure that the students will learn what is expected of them by the teacher using this new curriculum.

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