Course Design Seminar
The four-week Course Design Seminar allows participants to explore evidence-based, inclusive instructional design practices and create a learner-centered syllabus of their own design. Participants apply the principles of backward design and inclusive teaching to develop context-specific learning objectives, aligned and scaffolded assessments, and a range of engaging activities that facilitate student learning within the context of a single course.
For those enrolled in the Teaching Development Program (TDP), this seminar satisfies the Advanced Track seminar requirement.
Columbia University graduate students and postdocs who are interested in…
- Exploring the application of inclusive teaching, universal design for learning, and evidence-based instruction to course design
- Participating in a community of practice associated with teaching and learning
- Designing a syllabus for an introductory course in their discipline
Are you interested in designing a syllabus for a course you plan to teach? Are you approaching the job market and looking to demonstrate how you approach teaching within your discipline by creating a syllabus to submit with your materials? Apply to the Course Design Seminar to explore evidence-based, inclusive instructional design practices and create a learner-centered syllabus of your own design.
In this four-week seminar, participants apply the principles of backward design and inclusive teaching to develop context-specific learning objectives, aligned and scaffolded assessments, and a range of engaging activities that facilitate student learning within the context of a single course. This seminar is presented as a learning community in which participants give and receive peer feedback on in- and out-of-class assignments.
Participants who attend all four sessions and complete related activities receive a letter from CTL certifying successful completion that can be referenced on CVs and other descriptions of pedagogical preparation.
For graduate students enrolled in the Teaching Development Program (TDP), this seminar satisfies the Advanced Track seminar requirement.
Click on the toggles below to read the session descriptions.
Session 1: Student-Centered Course Objectives: Designing Significant Learning Experiences and Setting a Positive Course Climate
In week 1, learn the importance of starting with the end in mind. What do you want students to be able to know or do by the end of the course? What expectations do you have for students individually and collectively? How might each of these factors shape the climate of your course and, by extension, student learning? In this session, you will learn the importance of evidence-based, inclusive instructional design practices and apply the framework of backward design to your own disciplinary and course context. You will identify strategies to craft meaningful and accessible student learning objectives and discuss how to translate these into your teaching practices. Engage with principles of inclusive teaching to then consider how best to communicate your expectations for student learning to students in and beyond a course syllabus. Together, these ideas will support you in designing discipline- and context-specific learning objectives and creating an inclusive learning environment that meaningfully engages all students in the learning process. Prior to this session, participants will complete a brief online Learning Objective Generator activity.
Session 2: Scaffolding Student Learning: Assessments and Feedback
In week 2, learn how to design assessments to help students make meaningful progress toward course learning objectives and give instructors insights into student learning. What opportunities will you give students to demonstrate their understanding of key topics and/or ability to undertake skills essential to the learning goals you defined in week 1? How can you obtain feedback on the efficacy of course activities and use such information to improve your teaching? These questions in mind, this session will introduce you to three different types of assessments — diagnostic, formative, and summative — that, when used in tandem, help you understand the strengths, experiences, and attitudes students bring to the classroom, give students multiple opportunities and modalities in which to demonstrate knowledge and skills they acquire, and offer feedback for students and instructors alike about progress toward learning goals. At the end of this session, you will learn how students’ mindset and the quality and nature of feedback given combine to influence student performance in class.
Session 3: Selecting Course Content and Engaging Students: Active Learning and Multiple Means of Engagement
In week 3, learn how to align in-and out-of-class activities and course content with learning goals and consider each through the lens of inclusive teaching. For example: What will you do in class (or in office hours) to meaningfully engage students in their own learning? How will you ensure these activities are meaningful, relevant, and accessible to students? In this session, you will be introduced to a range of active learning techniques and research about the value of such practices for student learning. Together with peers, you will discuss the contexts in which each might be most relevant and brainstorm how to facilitate activities to be maximally accessible. You will also consider the social and spatial implications of active learning and discuss the benefits and challenges of each for classroom climate and student engagement.
Session 4: The Student-Centered Syllabus: Designing All Course Elements for Accessibility
In week 4, you will reflect on your work throughout the seminar and apply these insights to the creation of a student-centered syllabus for an introductory course in your discipline. These insights will be operationalized through a series of activities that guide you through the process of integrating all elements in this seminar– learning objectives, assessments, activities–into the design of a course.
You will also reflect on your core beliefs about teaching and learning, consider how they have changed over the course of this seminar, and identify how you plan to change your own teaching practice as a result. Because these core beliefs inform not only course design but also how you present your teaching in the academic job market and in interactions with students, at the end of this session, you will have an opportunity to practice describing your course within a particular context (e.g., as an artifact for the academic job market, to prospective students) and obtain peer feedback. At the conclusion of this seminar, you will be well-prepared to draft a syllabus of your own design and meaningfully present your intentionality as an instructor to a range of audiences.
- Discuss and describe the principles of inclusive teaching, universal design for learning, and evidence-based instruction.
- Participate in a community of practice associated with teaching and learning at Columbia in order to realize the value of learning communities.
- Design a syllabus for an introductory course in their discipline.
- Describe the value and practice the development of well-defined, accessible, student-centered learning goals (S1).
- Articulate clear and motivating expectations for student learning and engagement (S1).
- Explain and select assessment techniques that align with learning goals and scaffold student learning (S2).
- Communicate meaningful and accessible feedback to students in a variety of contexts (S2).
- Describe the importance of driving instructional practice with specific, student-centered learning goals (S3).
- Connect evidence-based, inclusive teaching practices and accessible materials and activities to goals for meaningful student learning and positive course climate (S3).
- Reflect on their own beliefs and practices regarding teaching and learning and articulate goals for continually refining their teaching practice to be maximally inclusive (S4).
- Communicate course goals and content to desired audience(s) in a way that is meaningful, relevant, and accessible (S4).
The CTL is here for graduate students.
The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning provides an array of support for graduate students in both their current and future teaching responsibilities.