Thursday, January 17, 2013

Course Design: Significant Factors to Consider Relating to Student Veterans

Prepared by the USD Fides program at CTL

Specific Context of the Teaching and Learning Situation
  • How many student veterans might be in the class?
  • Are these veterans likely to be taking this class the first semester after their return from deployment?
  • Does the layout of the classroom cause any potential hurdles for student veterans (multiple exits, lots of glass windows/walls, accessible to students with restricted mobility, etc.) [refer to chapter 10]?
  • If the course is online, are there likely to be active duty military personnel taking the course, and if so, what might be the ramifications?
Expectations of External Groups
  • Are the retention rates of student veterans under scrutiny by state or university initiatives?
  • Is this a course that student veterans should receive credit for, based on the educational experiences they have had in the military?
  • Would previous military experience count as fulfilling any prerequisite for the course, allowing student veterans to more quickly matriculate into it?
Nature of the Subject
  • Does the content require special consideration, given what we know about the general characteristics of student veterans?
  • Does the content of the course require that students closely examine issues such as death or loss?
  • Does the course cover geographical areas or cultures in which student veterans may have some expertise (remembering that the United States have significant troop deployments in many areas of the world, and not just the Middle East)?
  • Does the course content cover leadership theory or have a significant ethics component that student veterans may have had previous training in?

Characteristics of the Learners
  • Student veterans may be experiencing significant transitional challenges as they move between active duty and higher education.
  • Student veterans may come into a course with significant practical experience (an army medic taking nursing courses, for example).
  • Student veterans may have disabilities (including ones that they themselves are unaware of) that create challenges for their learning success.
Characteristics of the Teacher
  • What prior experience does the teacher have with the military, and is it positive or negative?
  • What stereotypes about military students or the military itself must the teacher overcome?
  • Does the teacher understand best practices in educating student veterans?
Special Pedagogical Challenges
  • Student veterans tend to volunteer more of their time to service projects than any other group.  Would a service learning project be appropriate for the course?
  • Team-based learning can be both a positive and a negative experience for student veterans.  Have team-based learning exercises been examined to make sure assignments are clearly defined and have unambiguous goals?
  • Does your course utilize the principles of Universal Design?
  • Does the course use modes of communication that are radically different from military protocol?
  • Are there contingency plans for students who are taking online courses overseas who may have course activities disrupted by their military duties?

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