Embedding active learning into curricula using a deliberate design approach Faculty Spark - View, reflect and apply

Last updated on 19/12/2018

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Goodyear’s Education Design Space was used develop students’ cultural competency to a level where they can “reconcile dilemmas”, which is the ability to create and apply solutions to culturally-influenced situations.


The challenge was to develop in students the knowledge and skills to engage effectively across cultures. This includes an ability to create innovative approaches/solutions to culturally-influenced situations, maximising aspects of the various cultures at play.

Before one can be culturally competent, one must be culturally aware, but cultural awareness/tolerance/sensitivity must start from within, because one is ethnocentrically driven as a default position of one’s ‘own’ culture.


Educational design should be a deliberate, pedagogically-driven process. I used a  ‘deliberate design and dynamic delivery’ approach (Mouasher & Lodge, 2016). Four pillars of pedagogy support this process:

  • Active Learning Theory
  • Technological-Pedagogical-Content-Knowledge Framework (TPCK); Goodyear’s Education Design Space; and Alexandrian Design Principles.

I used a template based on Goodyear’s Educational Design Space (2005) This template helped me to:

  • Begin with the end in mind (the Learning Outcomes & Graduate Attributes of Intercultural Competence)
  • Allow pedagogy to drive the design process (the GBS Active Learning Strategy)
  • Ensure that learning tasks and activities chosen were contextually appropriate to the environment

In the end, my pedagogically-driven course design looked like this: 

Choosing the most appropriate Active Learning strategy and activities:

I researched various active learning tools and techniques to see which ones would align with the Learning Outcomes.

With Intercultural Competence as a key Learning Outcome, Authentic learning, Co-Construction of knowledge, and Problem-based learning were suitable Active Learning approaches identified as High-level Pedagogy. This translated into the following Active Learning Strategy - for students to:

  • Work in teams (virtual)
  • Solve a problem, by using the tools (on self, on team, on case)
  • Reflect on the experience (past, present, future, self, others)

Each of these encourages Active Learning, and they address an appropriate design for the contextual environment, and also an effective means of assessment and deeper self-reflection.

Keeping teams small at four members provided an opportunity to learn effective teamwork in an intercultural context.

Other examples of embedding Active Learning by deliberate design were to plan an appropriate environment that would facilitate active learning, such as requesting a smaller room with a U-shaped setup to encourage peer-engagement and co-construction, planning to create a ‘business meeting’ context for all workshops to simulate a real-world environment, and dividing up the three assessment tasks into eight ‘milestones’ to scaffold an assessment-for-learning approach where there would be opportunity to practice necessary skillsets such as reflection.


There were a number of positive outcomes of embedding Active Learning deliberately by design and dynamically during delivery:

  • Increased student retention: the dropout rate this trimester was only 14% (down from an average of 23%)
  • Increased student engagement: based on consistent attendance of over 80% on campus and around 30% online
  • Positive learning experience: based on student reflections and feedback
  • Evidence of Intercultural Competence as gleaned from student reflections
  • Acknowledgement of the need for a team experience for active learning and intercultural development (IC)
  • Active learning through application of tools and teamwork
  • IC development via a deep reflective process
  • IC development via a team and case approach
  • Virtual teams as a successful active learning tool and demonstrating employability skills

I received a Teaching Excellence Recognition Scheme award for my Active Learning approach to deliberate course design.

Enabling Technology

Blackboard Collaborate



If you are thinking about embedding active learning to achieve your learning outcomes, consider the following:

  • Use the handy template I created from Goodyear’s framework to deliberately design your own course/activity
  • Begin with the end in mind (the Learning Outcomes and Graduate Attributes)
  • Familiarising yourself with active learning strategies, tools and techniques

Griffith Graduate Attributes

A central goal of this assessment item was to develop students' cultural diversity, which aligns with Graduate Attribute 6. Effective in culturally diverse and international environments.

As they progressed through the course, they were able to “reconcile dilemmas”, and create innovative approaches/solutions to existing culturally-influenced situations and influence positive change.

It also developed these attributes:

1. Knowledgeable and skilled, with critical judgement
2. Effective communicators and collaborators
3. Innovative, creative and entrepreneurial
4. Socially responsible and engaged in their communities


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Preferred Citation

Mouasher, A., & Learning Futures (2018). Embedding active learning into curricula using a deliberate design approach. Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/7169/view