2016年12月1日 12 1, 2016 EVENT REPORT TALK workshops

Task design principles: Supporting students' learning through task design (Dr. Shoko Sasayama, The University of Tokyo)

Global FD Workshop Series

Thursday, December 1, 2016
3:00pm-4:30pm
KIBER 314

Designing tasks to maximize their effects on students' learning
Can we promote students’ learning through designing tasks in certain ways, to encourage certain kinds of learner responses, and to guide them towards certain outcomes? This workshop provides a platform to discuss task design in the context of language education at three levels: (a) curriculum, (b) pedagogy, and (c) the task itself. First, it looks at task design at the curricular level, addressing how to select tasks in relation with students’ learning needs and desired learning outcomes. It then considers the role of pedagogy in making tasks more meaningful and engaging for the students and hence more conducive for learning. Finally, the workshop considers findings from cognitive task complexity research as a way to examine how characteristics inherent in the design of tasks influence what learners pay attention to and what they learn as a result.


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Report by Yuko Itatsu (Language and Information Science Department):
“Task Design: Building blocks or stumbling blocks”

Teaching or learning cannot exist without tasks. No one can dispute this. Tasks are essential components of any course, whether they are for assessment or not, whether they are done in the classroom or elsewhere, whether they are central to a course (heavily relying on active learning) or not (in a lecture-based course), and regardless of discipline. In which case, spending time on reflecting on our task design seems like a good use of time.

Dr. Shoko Sasayama, who specializes in task design for language teaching, discussed the multiple dimensions of task design and led a discussion about the pitfalls of designing tasks and ensuring the alignment of tasks and the assessment criteria. First of all, she discussed how tasks should be designed to meet the assessment criteria and the overall purpose of the course. She also discussed how tasks should be designed to encourage student engagement, and lastly about analyzing the characteristics embedded in the task that may impact the way students attend to the task or retain the learning.

After a quick reminder about needs analysis and the importance of designing tasks that are tethered to the students’ needs, she demonstrated a task by asking the participants to pretend to be students in a class. The instructions were given for a pair activity, which led to a small group activity. The exercise was useful for faculty attending, since it allowed for them to be reminded of how it feels to be on the receiving end of task instructions. Through the demonstration, she illustrated how decreasing extraneous elements in the task while adding facilitative elements was a good combination to encourage student engagement in the task. These extraneous elements are components that complicate the task unnecessarily, which distracts the learner from the focus and as a result hinders improvement or learning. Facilitative complexity is a good type of complexity in task design that encourages learners to push the limit of their ability (interlanguage resources in the case of language attainment) and facilitate their motivation and learning. Throughout the discussions, the participants shared ideas and practices of how they reduce extraneous complexities and increase facilitative complexities, which was beneficial in expanding our arsenal of task design strategies.

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