The Syllabus and the ELP
The ELP integrates best into a course when it is a key component. Directed teaching with the ELP ensures that all students develop the technical and conceptual tools needed to move into independent practice.
a. ELP & Syllabus Structure
How to add the ELP to the already packed syllabus? Use the ELP to expand tried and true teaching practices and what is already happening in class.
- When do students work with collection and reflection tools such as sketchbooks, notebooks, or journals? How can this activity translate to the blog format?
- When do students do short exercises or experiments? How can a small step in a project or collaboration be saved and captured in the ELP?
- How do students reflect and critique? How can the ELP host a reflection or comment-based critique.
Add the ELP to the syllabus plan and grid. Make the ELP a component of the plan for the course and teach with it throughout the semester.
- How often will students in my course use the ELP?
- Will the ELP be a weekly tool in my course?
- Will a strategic use of the ELP once or twice in the semester work best?
- Does ELP engagement differ as the semester progresses?
Devise assignment types that make sense for your specific course and discipline. Assess these assignments with other course deliverables.
- Match ELP posts to the pacing of your course.
- Design concrete ELP prompts.
- Devise a clear method to manage and assess these posts.
b. Assignments to Address Learning Outcomes
ELP assignments can make Learning Outcomes transparent to students and assessable for faculty.
An ELP assignment could focus on one specific Learning Outcome or address several. A glance over a course’s learning outcomes is a great place to start when planning how to add the ELP to the syllabus.
Where should I place the ELP in my course?
- Which Learning Outcomes have I not addressed fully in the past and how might I use the ELP to explore these outcomes?
- Which Learning Outcomes are fully addressed in my syllabus and will NOT make sense to add to ELP activities?
- Are there new connections between Learning Outcomes that I want to emphasize on the ELP?
- Can my students name the Learning Outcomes of this course? How could the ELP build transparency?
- What do I most want students to leave this course knowing/ doing? How can this priority be a part of my planning?
The ELP and Language Support
The ELP is an ideal tool to use in a language support classroom or with diverse language learners.
- Allows for students to develop writing at their own pace.
- Gives students a space to communicate complex concepts visually.
- ELP assignments should be flexible and modifiable for diverse levels of skills.
Want more support in developing excellent Language Support assignments?
University Learning Center: firstname.lastname@example.org / 212-229-5121
c. Multiple-Posts vs. Long-Form Posts
How should assignments be managed? The types of assignments and frequency will depend on the content of each course. Select a method that suits your teaching style. And maintain consistency!
Also avoid redundancy, students do not want to feel that they are duplicating work and faculty do not want to add to an already packed work load.
The Multiple-Post Method
- Assignments are given very frequently and break down small experiments, tasks, and writing into separate posts.
- The benefit of this method is that it allows concrete skills to be assigned and assessed.
- Students experience frequent use and become proficient quickly.
- The challenge of this method is that ELPs become packed with many posts that can get unruly if not well organized. This method is also faculty-focused and can limit student attachment and independence.
- This approach works best at the beginning of a semester or year.
The Long-Form Post Method
- Assignments are given at the end of a unit or project and include a large amount of information, documentation and reflection.
- The benefit of this method is that related information is gathered and delivered together in one post. This allows the visitor to see a whole story. This method is also student-focused and gives space for personal style and attachment to emerge.
- The challenge of this method is that students may not yet have the learning habits established to do the deepest level of work.
- This approach works best at the end of a semester or year.
Studio, Seminar, Lab or Lecture?
- The type of course you are teaching may also determine the format of student posting.
- Lecture and lab courses may assign several short posts that ask students to connect a lecture concept or experiment with an observation from everyday life.
- Studio and seminar courses may assign long-form posts as students often develop independent work in this context.
- There is no single, correct method. Faculty are free to develop a style with the ELP that feels meaningful. What will make a method effective is its consistency and clarity to students.
Use the ELP to get to know your students!
Review students ELP at the beginning of the semester. Or design an introductory post assignment.
The first ELP assignment has three main goals:
- An introduction to your students and their experiences related to your course content.
- All students set-up and establish best practices of posting.
- Break the ice to using the ELP!
An introductory post may have students share examples of their own art and design, inspirations from other designers, favorite places and colors. Or the introductory post could be a short assignment related to the first unit of the course. Keep it simple to get students rolling quickly.
This first assignment could be completed in class together, with partners, or independently as homework. Make sure to review the posts in class or give feedback to students.
Developing assignments should go hand-in-hand with assessment. Assessing the ELP ensures that students are using the tool in a productive manner. Giving students clear guidelines for ELP assessment puts everyone on the same page.
Make expectations transparent.
- Students need transparency in order to meet goals.
- Provide a rubric or description of the qualities that go into successful posts.
- Share examples of great student ELPs.
- Share a diversity of student examples to demonstrate the variety of personal interpretation that meets expectations.
- Set aside class time to clarify the expectations of ELP assignments.
- Write a sample post in class with student participation and then assess the work together.
Grading or using other assessment tools builds student accountability.
- Set a letter grade, point system or written feedback system to assess posts.
- Find another interactive way to build in ELP assessment, such as sharing posts during class.
- The important consideration is to make students feel that the time and effort put into the ELP is a valuable component of class.
Use a form of assessment that best suits the course and your teaching style.
- Students respond to timely assessment so keep this in mind when deciding how frequently to assign posts.
- Assess posts in a way that relates to the assessment strategies used in course projects.
- If students regularly receive project grades then regular ELP post grades make sense.
- If faculty prefer feedback meetings to grades, then the ELPs should be an important component of the meetings.
- If group critique is the primary assessment tool for students, then ELP critiques can be included during class time.
Great ELP prompts are simple directives that encourage complex response. Be clear when developing prompts. Any prompt that asks our students to ask the following questions cannot go wrong. Consider your main goals when writing a prompt. Why are you asking your students to do this assignment? And then be very specific in your expectations.
What did I do?
How did I do it?
What did I learn?
What does it mean?
Why does it matter?
How does it connect?
What new questions do I have?