Creative Assignment Design

This workshop explores how to design problem-based learning (PBL) assignments that tie the practice of skills or course objectives with a direct engagement with a student’s environment. We will discuss strategies for incorporating, across the disciplines, the vast range of resources NYC offers, including archives, museums, site exploration, and field visits, etc., into assignment design.

The Creative Assignment Design workshop was offered as as an in-person workshop at the Graduate Center, CUNY in Spring 2016. The workshop and materials were developed by Elizabeth Decker.

Workshop Materials

All materials on this page and in the linked google folder are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International Public License.

This folder contains outreach materials, workshop plans and slides, and a handout about ethical tech lingo used in the workshop. Materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International Public License.

Materials Folder: Creative Assignment Design Materials

Workshop Plan

I. Introductions

II. Scaffolding and Example

I’d like to start by talking about scaffolding assignments and cover:

  • what it means to scaffold assignments
  • why people use it
  • building skills
  • building levels of thinking/processing
  • how it works

III. Activity I

Coming up collaboratively with a list of skills we’d want to hit, then pair participants, and using the constraint of a smartphone as the material for the assignment, I’d ask them to think of ways to hit those skills (come up with a loose assignment design/a general idea)

IV. Discussion (discussion/recap of activity)→ Writing the assignment→ (broader)PBL, resources + example

After the activity and chatting about what we came up with, I’d like to talk about how we’d go about writing up those ideas as assignments for students. I’d cover:

  • tips on writing an effective assignment
  • how to situate information / too much text v. too little
  • what modeling can the assignment perform?

Shift to talking about the assignment design/scaffolding on a larger scale

Example of PBL + incorporating readings (specifically theory readings) into ‘active learning’

V. Group Activity

Similar to the first activity. Make two or three groups and give them (the same?) a site/resource in nyc-area and a list of skills/objectives and ask them to sketch a quick design of an assignment that would make use of that site. Present ideas to each other / general discussion in groups and together of other site assignments they’ve done etc

VI. Questions and survey