What is course design?
Course design ranges from small modifications to complete design or re-design. We use backwards design to focus on the things that students should be able to know or do by the end of a course (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). By keeping the end in mind, we can work backwards and design courses to support student learning.
Elements of course design
We use the student-centred learning approach of constructive alignment to identify, strengthen and align connections between course content, activities, assessment and learning outcomes (Biggs & Tang, 2007). Student learning is enhanced when these three course design elements are connected and aligned (Blumberg, 2009). Using student-centred practices, we can design meaningful learning experiences that strengthen connections between people, knowledge and skills (Fink, 2013).
How can course design help you?
Using evidence-informed literature and practices to ground student learning experiences, course design can inform:
- writing course outlines
- creating appropriate student assessments
- fostering community and relationships
- reflecting on your teaching practice and course design
- selecting and sequencing content
- student engagement
- integrating learning technology
Course design is an ongoing journey. Here are some common questions to think about:
- where are students having challenges?
- how can I foster relationships and community in the classroom?
- how do I find the balance between content and activities?
- what strategies can I use to engage students in a large classroom?
Example course design
Course title: Wellness 101
Biggs, J. B. & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university (3rd Ed). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Blumberg, P. (2009). Maximizing learning through course alignment and experience with different types of knowledge. Innovative Higher Education, 34(2), 93-103
Fink, D.L. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: an integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Honeycutt, B. (Ed.) (2016). Flipping the college classroom: practical advice from faculty. Madison, WI: Magna Publications
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed.). Alexandra, VA: ASCD.