A few weeks ago I wrote about my slight trepidation in teaching the lecture class that’s required of all of our first-semester Masters students. I had taught this class before — in Fall 2008 — but because the course elicited some criticism in recent semesters, I decided I wanted to reconceive the syllabus from the ground up. I spent a few months studying relevant pedagogical and curriculum-design literature; reviewing syllabi for seemingly similar courses; scanning relevant Chronicle discussions; reviewing potential assigned readings; meeting with my Technical Associates and Instructors; and considering how to make this class useful, meaningful, and, I hope, enjoyable. I ended up using a good bit of the material I had created for my 2008 version of the course — but this time, rather than using a theme to structure the course (which, as I learned last time, despite however broad, multifaceted, and latch-on-to-able a theme might be, will still end up turning off some people), I’d cut out the content “gimmicks” and instead design the class so that it feeds into the students’ assignments — so they would (ideally) easily see the relevance of our reading and lectures to their assignments, whose logic, I hope, is equally clear; the assignments are intended to build upon one another toward the creation of a proto-project that can serve students for the duration of their graduate studies.
I’m hoping all these lofty ideas actually play out on the syllabus, which you can find here. Obviously, I have yet to receive confirmations from all of my guest speakers at the end of the semester.