Developing a session plan

Using the prompts in the table below develop a session plan for a workshop, tutorial, or even a lecture in your own discipline

  Suggestions
Specify your aims and goals for the session You could do this in the form of learning outcomes but also think a little more widely if you can. Value the ‘unintended’ outcomes, the scope for following different pathways depending on how the session goes.
Identify the constraints under which the session is taking place ‘Forewarned is forearmed’, after all. Here, think about issues such as how the session fits into the student timetable, the venue, technology limitations or dependencies, anticipated level of student preparedness, timeframe, resource requirements, etc.
Consider the characteristics of the particular student group Background knowledge and skills, possible preconceptions, levels of preparedness, confidence levels, range and diversity of approaches to learning, other contextual factors
Select teaching methods and learning activities What is the focus of the session to be in terms of the balance between acquisition of new knowledge or exploration of particular concepts? How can you ensure that there is sufficient opportunity for the students themselves to be active in the class and that any activities you select are appropriate, manageable and credible in the eyes of learners (i.e. not just group activities for the sake of it)?
Outline any preparatory work required by the students And, importantly, identify how you can ensure that this is likely to have been completed and what your response is going to be where students have not done so and how such a response is likely to ensure better compliance in future rather than lead to greater disengagement. What preparatory work do you have to do?
Plan the session – structure and sequencing Use a rough schedule of what is to be done at each stage and how to strike a balance between adhering to this and allowing scope for responding to emergent issues – in other words, allow for contingencies. Think about how groups (if used) are to be constructed, how the best use is made of the venue and the space including arrangements of seating, provision of required items (e.g. flipcharts, projectors, markers, etc.), roles and detailed tasks, mix of group and plenary, how to bring things to a conclusion and reinforce the main learning points. Bearing in mind the nature of the class, think about what potential pitfalls there may be and have some basic strategies for coping with such.
Is the work of the students in this session to be assessed? What assessment methods do you propose to use, and have you ensured that these align with your proposed learning outcomes and make sense in the context of the activities you’ve planned? Are the students clear about the assessment requirements and whether it is formative or summative? How quickly are they to receive feedback or a grade?
Think about how to obtain feedback and improve the next session Perhaps a simple questionnaire is appropriate in some circumstances, such as when running an intensive, specialist workshop, but we shouldn’t also underestimate the potential of simply being alert to cues from student behaviour and responses during the session. It is effective practice to keep a teaching journal in which you can, soon after the class, jot down observations that you made on issues that arose (including what are often referred to in professional contexts as ‘critical incidents’), ideas that emerged and what your conclusion is about how successful the session was.