• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Course Design

Page history last edited by Gayla S. Keesee 13 years, 4 months ago

Instructional design could be defined as the systemic activity of 1) identifying instructional goals and the needs of learners, 2) matching those with an appropriate approach and means for delivering course content and materials, and 3) the development of the appropriate assessments that measure both the degree of learning and the quality of  instruction.


In the most commonly used method of course design, an instructor plans a course around a list of content items--typically taken from the table of contents in a good textbook. However, a more effective means centers the course around a set of overreaching goals that define: What knowledge, skills, and attitudes do we want our students to develop as a result of participating in this course?  Our courses, therefore, become outcomes driven and pedagogically based.  Course design is interactive, not a linear process.

A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning (Fink, 2002):

This comprehensive document is intended to assist faculty in course design. It includes worksheets, questions, and an outline of the three phases of integrated course design. It describes how to align learning goals with teaching and learning activities, and feedback and assessment.


Initial Design Phase: Build Strong Primary Components

Step 1.  Identify important situational factors

Step 2.  Identify important learning goals

Step 3.  Formulate appropriate feedback and assessment procedures

Step 4.  Select effective teaching/learning activities

Step 5.  Make sure the primary components are integrated

Intermediate Design Phase: Assemble the Components into a Coherent Whole

Step 6.  Create a thematic structure for the course

Step 7.  Select or create an instructional strategy

Step 8.  Integrate the course structure and the instructional strategy to      create an overall scheme of learning activities

Final Design Phase: Finish Important Remaining Tasks

Step 9.    Develop the grading system

Step 10.  De-Bug possible problems

Step 11.  Write the course syllabus

Step 12.  Plan an evaluation of the course and of your teaching 

Cutting Edge Tutorial for Designing Effective and Innovative Courses

by Dr. Barbara J. Tewksbury (Hamilton College) and Dr. R. Heather Macdonald (College of William and Mary)

This tutorial is designed to help you:

  • Articulate goals for a course or portion of a course.
  • Build a course or portion of a course that meets those goals and assesses student learning.
  • Explore a variety of teaching techniques that emphasize student engagement and that place responsibility for learning on the students.
  • Develop a plan for a rigorous, effective, and innovative course.


Part I: Setting goals

  • To set overarching and ancillary skills goals for your course in the context of your students, your department, and your institution.
  • To choose specific content through which you can accomplish the overarching goals.


Part II: Designing the course

  • To develop a course plan and consider how that course plan will help students achieve the overarching goals.
  • To explore a variety of teaching and assessment tools to help you build up your toolbox of techniques, add to your arsenal of ideas and templates for activities and assignments, and familiarize you with the growing collections of teaching materials accessible through On the Cutting Edge.
  • To design assignments and activities to give students practice in tasks relevant to the goals of the course and to develop assessments to evaluate students' progress toward the goals.
  • To construct the course syllabus.


Part III: Following through

  • To learn tips from former workshop leaders and participants for how to follow through after the initial design phase. 

The Collaborative Curriculum Design Tool (CCDT) is an online tool that you can use to plan your curriculum using the teaching for understanding frameworks described on the ALPS site. You can create unit designs by yourself or by using the build in features of collaboration you can design with a colleague or team of colleagues in your school, school district, or around the state, country, or world.


The Teaching for Understanding framework, developed in a research project at Project Zero during the early nineties, links what David Perkins has called "four cornerstones of pedagogy" with four elements of planning and instruction.

Four Central Questions About Teaching

  1. What shall we teach?
  2. What is worth understanding?
  3. How shall we teach for understanding?
  4. How can students and teacher know what students understand and how students can develop deeper understanding?

 TfU Element Addressing each Question

  1. Generative Topics
  2. Understanding Goals
  3. Understanding Performances
  4. Ongoing Assessment


Interactive Video Classroom--Austin Community College

Course Design

Presentation Materials

Lesson Delivery


Transforming the Humanities Classroom for the 21st Century is structured so that either an individual or a team of instructors can move through the process of course redesign developed by the N-Gen Course Redesign Projectâ„¢. Each phase of the process corresponds with a chapter of the book, mimicking the method for instructors who wish to redesign their classes on their own or for faculty professional development staff that would like to lead a similar project on their own campuses.

  • Chapter one address the challenges faced by instructors teaching today's students and provides the underlying principles, practices, and research that inform N-Gen Course Redesignâ„¢.

  • Chapter two walks the instructor through a Course Needs Assessment and the creation of a Course Concept Map for significant learning.

  • Chapter three moves the instructor into the foundation of redesign--writing and validating Student Learning Outcomes (SLO).

  • Chapter four summarizes the need for outcomes-based assessment and explains the links between SLOs, assessment, and student success.

  • Chapter five addresses instructional activities, materials, and course structure.

  • Chapters six through nine present case studies of specific humanities courses redesigned at the University of North Texas using four different approaches.

The book can be purchased individually or in bulk through Bent Tree Press. 

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.