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Understanding Bible by Design

Understanding Bible by Design: Create Courses with Purpose

G. Brooke Lester
Jane S. Webster
Christopher M. Jones
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Understanding Bible by Design
    Book Description:

    Today’s seminary and religious-education instructors are expected to design and redesign their courses more nimbly than in the past. We have to adapt our courses to novel learning environments, for more diverse learners, toward more diverse vocations. At the same time, institutional rewards for time invested in course design are fewer than ever. Understanding Bible by Design introduces the reader to UbD: an approach to course design that is proven time-efficient and grounded in the instructor's most closely-held convictions about her subject matter’s “big ideas and essential questions.” This book’s contributors (one in Old Testament, one in New Testament, and one in Jewish Studies) demonstrate the value of UbD for the Biblical Studies instructor, whether at seminary or university, face-to-face or online, from the intimate seminar to the massive MOOC. Lester’s synopsis of course design and suggested action is followed by a collaborative dialogue with Jane S. Webster and Christopher M. Jones. Webster and Jones provide practical commentary regarding the successful implementation of Lester’s proposed approaches. As a group, Lester, Webster, and Jones create a text that extend pedagogical innovation in inspiring but practical ways.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8962-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Chapter 1 Setting the Problem
    (pp. 1-8)
    G. Brooke Lester

    This is a book about Understanding by Design (UbD), and how some of us have used it to design our courses in biblical studies better. UbD, developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, is a teacher-friendly, learner-centered approach to “backward course design,” by which one builds a course “backward,” using the destination—one’s desired learning outcomes—as a starting place.

    Recently, at my own institution, a few junior faculty members advanced a plan for a faculty forum in which they might elicit insights from professional educators and senior faculty members about how to accomplish more intelligent course design. A senior...

  4. Chapter 2 Understanding by Design
    (pp. 9-32)
    G. Brooke Lester

    In this chapter, I describe Understanding by Design (UbD), as developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, but through a “biblical-studies” lens. What is UbD, when did it come along, who uses it, and what does it offer to the instructor in Bible?

    “Understanding by Design,” as already noted, is a concept developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. The first edition of their bookUnderstanding by Designwas published in 1998, with an accompanying handbook following in 1999. TheUnderstanding by Design Professional Development Workbookwas released in 2004, shortly before the second, expanded edition ofUnderstanding By Design...

  5. Chapter 3 Understanding by Design: Old Testament in Seminary
    (pp. 33-60)
    G. Brooke Lester

    A favorite mind-game that I like to play on my students (what, you don’t?) is to tell them that there is one Forbidden Question in my classes: “But Prof, how does this preach?” The “this” is some new learning or other (JEDP, 722 bce, ideological criticism, suzerainty treaty). The motivation for the question varies; sometimes, for example, it implies, “This seems irrelevant to me, why should I have to learn it?”; other times, it implies, “I am so lost, can we distill this down to something I can grasp?” Of course, the reason I “forbid” the question is precisely in...

  6. Chapter 4 Understanding by Design: Putting Your Course Online
    (pp. 61-70)
    G. Brooke Lester

    It may be that you turned directly to this chapter because you are looking for ways to translate a face-to-face class to some online format. If so, that’s fine. Stick with this chapter (I will provide informal cross-references to earlier pages from time to time), and see if it prompts you to investigate the rest of this book as well as Wiggins and McTighe’s book,Understanding by Design.

    It may be that you’re already excited about the possibilities of online learning, or maybe find yourself compelled while yet skeptical. Perhaps you have been invited to teach online for the first...

  7. Chapter 5 Understanding by Design: New Testament at University
    (pp. 71-96)
    Jane S. Webster

    Understanding by Design provides an extremely useful matrix for us to think about our course design in the liberal-arts context, for it requires us to identify explicitly what we think adults should understand, know, and do by the time they complete a course. More than that, UbD invites us to think beyond the bounds of our own discipline and urges us to consider an understanding that is enduring and that extends beyond the walls and the moment of the classroom. It pushes us to press past the memorization of factual content into the realm of a deeper knowing, and with...

  8. Chapter 6 Teaching Outside of the Bible with Understanding by Design
    (pp. 97-116)
    Christopher M. Jones

    I am a biblical scholar by training. My PhD is in Hebrew Bible and my dissertation analyzes space, identity, and power in Ezra-Nehemiah. At the time that I am writing this chapter, I am completing the first semester of my first academic appointment, as visiting assistant professor of religious studies at Beloit College. The position is something of a dream job: I teach two courses per semester at a small liberal-arts college, and I have near-total carte blanche to teach whatever I want to teach within the disciplines of religious studies and Jewish studies. The only catch? Because my department...

  9. Appendix
    (pp. 117-125)
    G. Brooke Lester, Jane S. Webster and Christopher M. Jones
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 126-126)