CCCS and course design

As you prepare or redesign your courses, think about ways to engage your students using the four concepts that define education at UM: constructive – collecting and generating knowledge together; contextual – seeing the relevance of what you do; collaborative – working together and sharing responsibility; self-directed – actively participating and taking initiative, online and on campus.


Students develop a better understanding of what they have learned and remember it longer if they have played an active role in acquiring new knowledge. New information is transformed into new knowledge as students organise and connect that information to what they already know, and determine how it modifies, contradicts or complements existing knowledge. To do so, students need to make both new and prior knowledge explicit, analyze it and elaborate on it. 


Encouraging students to critically examine connections between the bigger picture and its parts is the essence of contextual learning. Context refers to the surroundings - the environment, the circumstances - that give an idea or a concept its meaning, and hence its relevance. A professional practice, situations from daily life, or a specific field of academic inquiry can all be contexts from which individual concepts, objects, ideas, and skills derive meaning. Working with a rich diversity of contexts challenges and allows students to rethink and apply their learning in new contexts and evaluate that application critically. 


Through collaboration students share the responsibility for the learning process as a group. The learning task at hand is theirs, and as they work together they do so based on a common, explicit understanding of the problem and shared objectives. The acquisition of new knowledge benefits greatly from this process of making explicit what often remains implicit and vague in individual learning. With all its benefits and challenges, collaboration requires and helps students to recognise their dependence on peers in their learning and work.


Students benefit from playing an active role in planning, monitoring and evaluating their learning. They develope a sense of ownership of their own learning process and beyond. Increasing students’ agency through e.g. the confidence and space to make choices or set priorities, has positive effects on motivation, learning and wellbeing.