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Good course design is an iterative process—informed by measurable learning goals, shaped by emergent subject area priorities, and alive to specific circumstances and opportunities. The CTL offers individual course design consultations to all instructors at Columbia University.

Planning your course

  • A successful course begins with thoughtful course design. Stanford University’s Teaching Commons website provides aids for course design. Topics include  an overview of course design; designing learning goals, with examples from different disciplines; and thoughtfully state learning outcomes using Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. (External link)
  • The Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI) at the University of California, Berkeley, supports departments in establishing educational goals and evaluation procedures for all undergraduate programs. Their website has a list of learning goals by program, from African American Studies to Urban Studies. (External link)
  • Brown University’s Sheridan Center produced a handbook on syllabus design that aims to help instructors express clearly to the student what he or she will be expected to learn in the course. “Specifically,” write author Michael J.V. Woolcock, “instructors will endeavor to prepare an effective, pedagogically sound course outline; make explicit connections between course objectives, departmental aims, and the university mission statement; and establish clear relationships between course objectives, student assessment, and evaluations of teaching effectiveness.” (PDF)
  • A successful course depends on the planning that precedes it. The University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Teaching and Learning provides articles and links on their website that provide syllabus planning guidelines for both faculty and graduate student instructors. (External link)

Approaches to course design

  • An integrated course design requires that all decisions relating to a given course (or other learning experience) — from the selection of reading materials to the assessment process — help promote student learning. A paper produced by the IDEA Center outlines key components of integrated course design based on the book Creating Significant Learning Experiences by L. Dee Fink. (PDF)
  • Universal design is the formation of a classroom experience that is accessible to diverse learning abilities. The University of Oregon’s Teaching Effectiveness Program compiled information and resources on their website for instructors to consider when designing, implementing, and evaluating their courses based on universal design principles. (External link)

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