How We Map Learning Objectives
Some parents have asked for a detailed description of how we design activities that accomplish our learning objectives. Here is an example:
In creating an activity, we choose a target skill and then determine what knowledge is required to utilize the skill. For example, say we’re trying to practice strategic decision-making.
We create the following scenario within the context of a game: There is a high risk play worth 8 points and a low risk play worth 4 points. Which should you choose?
We start by thinking about the knowledge that is required to evaluate the decision. The first piece of knowledge needed (assuming everyone knows the rules of the game) is how to calculate the probability of each outcome. Let’s say that we show the campers that there are 3 chances out of 4 to succeed at the low probability play, and just 1 chance out of 4 to succeed at the high probability play.
The second piece of knowledge needed is how to compute an expected value. This of course is done by multiplying the value of the action by the probability of success. So the low probability action is worth an expected value of three points (4 x 0.75) while the low probability action is worth an expected value of two points (8 x 0.25).
The strategic decision in a points maximizing context is to choose the low probability action.
If we wanted to build on this lesson, we might introduce an additional piece of information. What if you are 6 points behind in the last round of a game?
Now the strategic decision requires another piece of knowledge: an understanding of points maximization vs. achieving an objective. In many contexts a player should attempt to achieve points maximization. However, as the end of the game approaches, “win scenarios” must be considered. In the new situation, the high probability play that is worth 4 points cannot result in a win. Even though the low probability play has a lower expected value, it is the only action with a chance of victory, so it must be chosen.
We might then adjust the scenario: what if the low probability action has a 50% chance of success? And then, what if you are only behind by 3 points? Each adjustment changes the strategic decision.
These are, of course, very simple examples. But for every activity, we start with a skill and teach the knowledge needed for the participants to apply and practice that skill. We then build the complexity at an age-appropriate pace. Our counselors also make a point to give an example of how the chosen skill applies to every day life so that campers can understand that they are not just learning about board games, but life skills.