The Art of Designing a Curriculum

Congratulations to five members of the ‘Transfer of Learning FLC’ (Faculty Learning Community) for getting their findings published in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. 

Authors:  Chris Jensen, Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolution in the Department of Mathematics and Science; Brian Brooks, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Foundation Art Program, and the K-12 Center for Art and Design and Community Engagement; Keena Suh, Associate Professor in the Interior Design Program; Allegra Marino Shmulevsky, Visiting Instructor and Lecturer in the Intensive English Program; and Chris Wynter, Professor in the Foundation Art Program – Pratt Institute.

Abstract:  We formed an interdisciplinary faculty learning community (FLC) in response to concerns on our campus that students were not adequately transferring learning from their first-year courses into their subsequent studies. Our art and design curriculum is based on the studio model but also includes a variety of general education courses. This creates the possibility that students and their instructors may perceive “big gaps” between different learning environments. We spent a year exploring these gaps and finding potential bridges between the very different domains in which we teach. Our FLC realized that to better understand the potential for learning transfer in our curriculum, we had to expand the boundaries of our learning community. We did so by creating the Transfer Sessions Project, a series of informal conversations that empowered faculty from different disciplines to discover common learning goals and explore how these shared goals could better foster student transfer of learning. These sessions revealed the potential in empowering faculty to compare what students produce in their courses in terms of learning transfer. As our FLC comes to an end, we are working on formally analyzing the artifacts contributed by our participants to fully illuminate potential pathways of transfer that exist — and could be expanded — in our curriculum.

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