Start with the end in mind. It seems like pretty straightforward advice for a lot of things in life. And, although it isn’t always considered when creating a new course, or modifying an existing one, it can create a very useful framework for course design.
Often this approach to course design is called “backward design”. The process starts with identifying the course learning goals. Next, you determine the best ways to assess and evaluate if students are achieving these goals. Then after the goals and evaluation strategies are established the course content is considered. Designing and teaching courses this way puts learning first and content coverage second. It can help students achieve higher levels of cognitive development (i.e. higher order learning as described in the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy) than classes that have content coverage as a primary focus.
The CELT website has a set of resources available to help with your course design:
- Basic Course Design: Aligning Course Objectives with Class Assignments and Your Teaching Approach,
- Tips on Writing Course Goals/Learning Outcomes and Measurable Learning Objectives, and
- How to Create an Effective Syllabus
Additionally, CELT is offering a 5-part workshop series- Best Practices in Online Course Design starting January 31st (registration is now closed for the spring series – CELT will be offering this series again in the near future – if you are interested email CELT). The workshop series is based on the research-based Quality Matters (QM) framework. You may learn more about this framework through CELT’s Quality Matters Tracks for Faculty Development website.
(On a personal note, last fall semester I worked with a graduate student in my program to develop a non-credit online course using the Quality Matters framework. It was a big undertaking, but the QM framework provided a fantastic guide and ensured we implemented a number of best practices for online learning. We’ve had great response from many of the participants as well.)
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching