Structuring activities using a template
It is helpful if your activity instructions follow a consistent structure. The ACU Teaching support program provides a template for activities based on the work of Gilly Salmon. This template can be used for both writing and presenting learning activities.
The benefits of using a consistent structure:
- Cognitive load for students is reduced when each activity uses the same headings and follows a consistent structure.
- The link between the activity and constructive alignment mapping of unit is explicitly made via the inclusion of the “purpose” statement in the activity.
The title should be both descriptive and interesting. Your aim is to have students think, “This sounds interesting, I’m curious to read on and know more”.
This is directly related to the module learning outcome(s). If it does not, ask yourself why you are even doing the activity. The purpose statement also answers for students, “What’s in it for me?” It also explicitly ties the activity to the constructive alignment mapping work that you have done for your unit.
Why should I do it? How will this help me?
What do you want them to do in the activity? Write the instructions here.
What do I need to do?
This is the material the students need to do the task. While it may be tempting to head straight to text based resources, aim to use a wide variety of resources e.g. videos, web sites, podcasts etc.
Make sure you include any learner support resources they might need. For example, wikis. If the students haven’t used one before, tell them what a wiki is, where they can go to find out more about how they work, and provide or link to instructions on how to contribute to a wiki.
What will support me?
Tell the students how they will get feedback on the activity. Will it be individual or to the group?
Some of the different ways you can provide feedback are listed below:
- a debrief in class
- feedback provided in discussion forum by the lecturer
- sample answer posted on LEO by lecturer
- email to lecturer and receive individual feedback
- feedback via the next virtual drop in in the live classroom
- feedback via video or audio.
How will I know how I am going?
Tell students how much time to allocate to the task. This ties in with the notion presented in Session 2 of being “realistic”. Include a recommended maximum.
How long should I spend? How much should I write?
Examples in template
Here is an example activity in a different though similar template, from a Master of Simulation unit.