Team-Based Design

A&S Learning Design & Technology uses a team-based approach to design, drawing on the expertise of instructional designers, librarians, technologists, classroom technology, and others to support faculty who are integrating innovative approaches to teaching and learning in their courses. This learner-centered approach to design asks how “all of these instructional experts might collaborate with faculty on a new design” (Bass, 2012) as well as consider their contributions as the course is delivered.

We work with faculty in group settings, formal and informal communities, and through individual consultations to design and/or re-design courses, labs, and other learning experiences for students. We bring our extensive knowledge and experience with instructional and curricular design and learning theory to help guide faculty through the design process.

Guiding our work with faculty are three dimensions of design: intentionality, authenticity, and engagement.


Bereiter and Scardamalia (1989) define intentional learning as “cognitive processes that have learning as a goal rather than an incidental outcome. Intentionality in learning design also calls attention to the sometimes conflicting interactions between what is "explicit" and what is "hidden" in the curriculum.  In this context, intentionality refers to the need to be as clear as possible with the "intentions" of a course (for example, through the syllabus), while also being cognizant of, prepared for, and responsive to what is not obvious because it has been assumed or taken for granted as part of the process of a course.  Kift and Field (2009) echo the fundamental objectives of our group when they say, "Student engagement in the first year of tertiary study can be successfully supported through intentional curriculum design that motivates students to learn, provides a positive learning climate, and encourages students to be active in their learning." 


Activities, investigations, and problems have always been at the heart of student involvement in meaningful learning contexts (Reeves et. al, 2004). Authentic learning typically focuses on real-world, complex problems and their solutions, using role-playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies, and participation in virtual communities of practice. It offers students opportunities to research issues, think critically, gain new perspectives, solve problems, and develop written and oral communication skills guided by engaged and involved faculty. Innovative and appealing ideas about teaching and learning have been explored in response to the challenges and opportunities offered by new technologies in the context of authentic learning.


The Glossary of Education Reform defines student engagement as "the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education." Architecting the means of engagement involves building capacities in students for curiosity (for knowledge), originality (for expressiveness), success (manifested through perseverance), and relationship (growth through networking and collaborating with others).  Engagement takes place through activities between student/instructor, student/peers, and student/world.


Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The learning all students need for the 21st century. [Chapter 3 in Greater Expectations, a National Panel Report]. (n.d.). Retrieved on September 17, 2015, from

Bass, Randall. “Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education.” Educause Review (2012). Retrieved on September 10, 2015 from

Bereiter, Carl, and Marlene Scardamalia. "Intentional learning as a goal of instruction." Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (1989): 361-392.


Cholbi, Michael. "Intentional learning as a model for philosophical pedagogy." Teaching Philosophy 30.1 (2007): 35-58.


Jonassen, David H. "Learning as Activity." Educational Technology 42.2 (2002): 45-51.


Kift, Sally M., and Rachael M. Field. "Intentional first year curriculum design as a means of facilitating student engagement: some exemplars." Proceedings of the 12th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference. Queensland University of Technology, 2009 (

Margolis, Eric. The hidden curriculum in higher education. Psychology Press, 2001.