Class script

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Definition

A 'class script is a plan that the explainer uses for what will be done in a class (a single session in a classroom). It is analogous to the scripts of plays. It differs from a class screenplay, which would go into more specific details (such as explicit guidance on what board to use, what students to cold call, etc.).

A large number of explainers develop class scripts, typically in the form of summary notes that they expand upon during lecture. The notes may or may not be made available to students. Some explainers use detailed full-scale class notes (that they may share with students) or an existing book and create their script from that on the fly.

The class script is an important component of classroom instruction as performance.

Creation of class script

Standardized class scripts not developed by the explainer

In some educational contexts, explainers do not create their own class scripts. Rather, the institution that is responsible for providing the class creates the class script and equips the explainer with the class script. The explainer may continue to have flexibility in the translation of the script to a screenplay, e.g., who to cold call, how to use boards, etc.

Script standardization has a number of advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of standardized class scripts:

  • It allows for a more uniform classroom experience, particularly relevant if there is a large number of sections of the same course and the institution providing the education wants to provide some guarantee of uniformity.
  • In theory, the educational institution can benefit from economies of scale when doing the research leading to the design of class scripts. For instance, they can get assistance from curriculum designers and do research on how to pace and phrase the content for best understanding by learners. This would not be feasible for each individual explainer to do, because it is resource-intensive. In practice, this may or may not happen for specific examples of classroom scripts.
  • It reduces the need for some skills in the explainer. In particular, the explainer need only have subject matter expertise and good delivery (classroom speech technique, board technique, etc.) and need not have skills around course planning or time management over longer time scales. This allows for selecting among a wider pool of possible explainers.

Disadvantages of standardized class scripts:

  • The standardized class script may not work well with the explainer's strengths. For instance, some explainers may be best when using the examples first approach, whereas others may be best when using a define then discuss approach. A rigid script may prevent explainers from drawing upon their strengths.
  • The standardized class script may reduce the explainer's flexibility to adapt to the learners' pace and method of learning. Note that for large classroom sizes, the explainer is anyway not in a position to accommodate the different learners, but for smaller classroom sizes, a script could significantly constrain the explainer relative to what is possible without one.
  • Both the explainer and the learner may be somewhat demotivated by having to follow the standardized class script even after knowing that the desired learning outcomes are not being produced, rather than slowing down or speeding up. Note that this builds on the last two disadvantages.