Making clear the context of your course allows its design to work with constraints and creates opportunities for learning.
Courses exist within larger contexts that influence their design and facilitation. Determining which factors are most important for the context of your course can be very helpful. These factors may operate as:
Considering situational factors at the start of the design process can lead to more effective teaching choices that can positively impact students’ learning experiences. There are many instructional strategies and techniques that can be used to complement both constraints and opportunities.
Fink (2013) uses the following groups to explore various situational factors:
A variety of these groups and factors will influence both the design process and the way the course is facilitated. These are unique to each instructor and each course, and they may change from semester to semester. The process of determining these factors can help the course’s overall design by considering the particular constraints and opportunities. Additionally, taking the time to collect this data will help you make decisions about your course that are effective, efficient and student-centered.
Download the Situational Factors Table
Using the Course Design Template explore the aspects that will likely affect your course.
Please note that you may not have all data prior to the start of class. Therefore, it can be helpful to review this worksheet periodically when more information emerges. This document will act as a resource throughout the design process and can also help you identify areas in which you need additional ideas or support.
Now that you have considered an assortment of situational factors and how they may influence your design elements, it is time to evaluate the course’s learning outcomes.
Further guiding questions for analyzing situational factors.
Activity for implications of situational factors.
Idea paper from Fink that outlines situational factors (page 2).
A longer guide from Fink that outlines situational factors (pages 6-7).