Decoding the Disciplines

Definition of Decoding the Disciplines

Decoding the Disciplines is a process designed to help instructors and educational consultants find new ways to increase student learning.  It revolves around seven basic steps that give direction to the teaching process.

These steps are designed as a general framework within which to think about increasing learning in a course.  In some cases the order in which these processes are considered may be changed or two or more steps may be addressed in a single intervention (e.g. the structure of an assignment may help model an operation for students at the same time that completing the work gives students practice and feedback and the instructor feedback on how well they are mastering basic processes.)  But it is important to take all seven steps into consideration and to proceed in a systematic manner.

1. Identify Bottlenecks. Where in a course are significant numbers of students having difficulty mastering basic material?

2. Define the processes that students need to master to get past the bottlenecks. What would experts in the field or advanced students do to get past the bottleneck?

3. Model these processes. How can these steps be made clearly visible to students?

4. Create opportunities to practice these processes and to get feedback on them. How can each of the steps identified be captured in specific assignments or exercises?

5. Motivate students to move through these processes. What emotional obstacles interfere with this learning and how can they be minimized?

6. Assess student mastery of these processes. How can we know the extent to which these interventions have been successful?

7. Share what has been learned. What has been discovered in this process and how can they be most effectively shared with others?

The Decoding the Disciplines Cycle