“I wish I had received such a tool at the beginning of my career"
A new book, "Design pédagogique", by College of Humanities (CDH) lecturer Marc Laperrouza and two UNIL colleagues, Jacques Lanarès and Emmanuel Sylvestre, has combined many essential principles of pedagogy with a unique and interactive graphic design style to support instructors in all areas of teaching.
When CDH scientist and lecturer Marc Laperrouza took a three-day course in pedagogy at UNIL in 2012, he thought he already knew most of what he needed to know.
“I thought I was a ‘natural’ teacher,” Laperrouza says. “But after 15 minutes in this course, I realized I still had a lot to learn, a LOT.”
Laperrouza figured other instructors might have a lot to learn as well, so he teamed up with neuropsychologist Jacques Lanarès, the former Vice Rector of UNIL, and Emmanuel Sylvestre, Director of the UNIL Centre de Soutien à l'Enseignement (Teaching Support Center), both of whom had been involved in the three-day course, to create an interactive and accessible version of that training.
“Traditional pedagogy books are just text and dense. An instructor might not want to read that,” says Laperrouza. “What we wanted to do with this book was to convert this three-day training into a practical and visual tool.”
“Finding a balance between rigor and accessibility”
Inspired by the book Business Model Generation, which incorporates graphic design and includes a widely-used Business Model Canvas, Lanarès, Laperrouza and Sylvestre found a graphic designer to work with throughout the entire process, which took over three years and countless rounds of edits.
The designer, Julian Bader, who now works at the UNIL Centre de Soutien à l'Enseignement, was involved in the book from early on. Bader was given carte blanche for the designs, and he did not just adapt his designs to the content, but the three authors also adapted their content to better complement the designs.
“It was a ping pong between the graphic and pedagogic side,” says Bader. “I came with my ideas and vision, presented the visual elements and then the authors helped me refine the details and the content.”
All that back and forth was not the most efficient way to create a book, Bader and Laperrouza admit. There were a lot of un-used illustrations, and the team made a dozen versions of the course design Canvas before finding a final one. But the process ensured that the book was written and designed in the most coherent and accessible way possible.
Some of the design elements that make this book unique are the spaces for interactive work, such as writing one’s own teaching objectives or evaluation criteria, along with examples from the authors to help in the process. In addition, to give it even more of a workbook feel, Bader created his own script fonts. “All the letters were designed three ways so they’re not identical, making it more like handwriting,” Bader says.
“Our hope is that everyone involved in teaching finds value in this book”
The book is divided into four sections: The mission of this book, vision, conception and evolution, each with its own color: yellow, blue, red and green. This allows instructors to use the book in the way that is most helpful to them depending on their needs and the phase of teaching they are in.
“There are multiple points of entry to this book, which is the reason different colors were used,” Laperrouza explains.
While someone new to teaching would probably want to start in the “vision” section to begin formulating their teaching philosophy, a seasoned instructor giving a course for the first time might find “conception” to be the most relevant section, because it is where they can design their course using the “Design pédagogique” canvas. And a professor who has been giving a course for many years in a row might benefit most from the “evolution” section, which invites them to reflect on and share the pedagogic competencies they already have.
To Laperrouza, the heart of the book are the exercises that support instructors in the creation of their course design canvas, helping an instructor create a coherent pedagogical system.
“Sometimes you can have great teaching objectives and great learning outcomes, but a lack of alignment with the methods of assessment,” Laperrouza explains, giving the example of an instructor of a debate class giving their students just a written exam. “When designing a course, some aspects, such as priorities, the roles of the teacher and students can remain implicit. With the book and the canvas, the idea is also to make explicit as many dimensions as possible.”
Design pédagogique is relevant to anyone teaching in a university or continuing education setting, whether they are an instructor of biology, engineering, architecture or humanities. Laperrouza hopes that eventually the team will make an English version of the book, along with a fully digital version where readers can do the activities and fill out the Canvas directly on their devices.
“I wish I had received such a tool at the beginning of my teaching career,” says Laperrouza. “Our hope is that everyone involved in teaching finds value in one or several sections of this work.”
Design pédagogique is available for free download.
A paper version will be released at the beginning of May 2023 as part of the Epistemé collection.
By Stephanie Parker