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Course Planning and Design


Words of Advice - the Voice of Experience

As you embark on the course design or revision process, Richard Prégent (1994), author of the popular book Charting Your Course, offers the following words of advice.

  1. Don't try to do everthing at once. Focus on changing one or two aspects of a course at a time. Develop a long range (e.g. 2-3 years) plan to finalize your course and continue to finetune once intended goals are achieved. Remember, a new or redesigned course is a work in progress. Balance your course design efforts with your other academic responsibilities.
  2. Don't forget that a course must be designed and implemented for students, not the professor. If your intent in teaching is to support student learning, then course design becomes more than just preparing lectures and tests, it extends to preparing other pedagogical activities and supports that promote student success.

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Getting Started

Teaching Goals Inventory (TGI) (self-scorable version)
TGI is a self-assessment tool that aids instructors in becoming more aware of what they want to accomplish in individual courses. It also helps faculty locate Classroom Assessment Techniques they can adapt and use to assess how well they are achieving their teaching and learning goals.

Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education
Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson, AAHE
Principles to guide your teaching practice and the development of your courses.

Good Teaching ­ The Top Ten Requirements
Richard Leblanc, York University
Requirements for effective teaching from Richard Leblanc - a Seymous Schulich Award winner for Teaching Excellence.

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Course Planning Guides

Preparing or Revising a Course
Taken from "Tools for Teaching," general strategies and advice are provided on course design from deciding what you want to accomplish and structuring the course, to choosing textbooks and selecting course policies. A quick and easy reference tool.

Preparing a Course
Office of Faculty and TA Development, Ohio State University
This chapter stresses the importance of thoughtful planning and provides guidelines and advice for preparing a course from developing course goals, preparing for your first day of class, to evaluating the course. A table of contents at the beginning of this document provides a quick reference.

Course Planning and Design
Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of North Carolina
The planning model presented in this section focuses on the student rather than on content. It addresses content mastery and the intellectual skills students should have upon finishing a course. To aid in the planning process many examples are provided.

Step by Step: Planning a College Course
Teaching and Learning Centre, University of Nebraska Lincoln
A ten-step approach to designing a course is presented. The opening table of contents allows for easy navigation between sections.

How can we 'unstuff' the curriculum?
Teaching Learning Group, Curtin University
This resource offers practical suggestions to help faculty "unstuff the curriculum" and achieve quality education through strategic changes in course structure and instructional strategies.

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9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning
AAHE Assessment Forum
The nine principles offer advice and guidance for designing assessment strategies and approaches.

Creating a Postive Assessment Environment
Teaching Options Newsletter, Centre for University Teaching, University of Ottawa
In this document, Dr. Marini of the University of Calgary examines the why, what, how, and when issues which surround the practice of student assessment, and ultimately the acievement of meaningful assessment that is perceived to be fair by students.
(No link available at this time).

Classroom Assessment Techniques
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
This site identifies and explains how to implement various activities faculty can use to collect feedback on how well their students are learning what is being taught.
(No link available at this time).

University of Guelph Grading System, Procedures, and Policy
1999/2000 Undergraduate Calendar (tab down to section on grading)
University guidelines about all aspects of grading are documented (i.e. criteria, submission of grades, etc.)

Grading: Suggestions for Maximizing Students' Perceptions of Fairness
University Teaching Services, University of Manitoba

Quizzes, Tests, and Exams (excerpt from Tools for Teaching)
Basic strategies, testing modes (traditional and innovative), and exam construction guidelines are provided. See "Tools for Teaching" for other chapters on student assessment.

For more information and ideas on student assessment, refer to the Student Assessment (PDF file) resource package prepared for new faculty.

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Teaching Practices and Methods

A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in College Teaching
Tom Drummond, North Seattle Community College
This document provides a collection of practices that constitute excellence in college teaching. These elements represent the broad range of effective actions teachers take, and requisite conditions teachers establish to facilitate learning. The list is brief and is intended more as a reference than as a "source of enlightenment".

A Berkeley Compendium of Suggestions for Teaching with Excellence
Barbara Gross Davis, Lynn Wood, and Robert C. Wilson ­ University of California, Berkeley
Categorized into 25 sections, award winning faculty from the University of California, Berkeley share suggestions for teaching with excellence - from teaching techniques to grading strategies, motivating students, and much more.

Teaching Techniques
Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of North Carolina
This section (of a larger document) on course design surveys the appropriate use of the lecture method, briefly examines some alternative teaching methods, and suggests ways to organize the class period.

Selecting a Delivery Strategy
Faculty Development, Honolulu Community College
Three delivery strategies are presented: lecture, demonstrations, or discussion. Questions follow each to help faculty determine which methods are best for intended learning outcomes.

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Incorporating Technology

Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever
Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Ehrmann, AAHE
This short essay describes some of the most cost-effective and appropriate ways to use computers, video, and telecommunications technologies to advance the Seven Principles.

Large Class FAQs: Technology
Centre for Effective Learning and Teaching, Penn State University
Though aimed at large class settings, the information provided is relevant to all learning environments. Were reference is made to Penn State services resources, refer to the TSS website for local support.

Making Effective Use of the Internet and Information Technology to Address Some Common Teaching Tasks (PDF file)
Created by Rob de Loë, Geography Department, University of Guelph
This chart lists strengths and limitations as well as guidelines and considerations when incorporating various forms of instructional technology (e.g. email, listservs, course web pages) in a course. Examples of use for each technological solution are also listed.

Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) On the Web: How You Can Get Up and Running
Centre for Computer Based Learning inLand Use and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen
Provides guideslines and considerations for incorporating the Internet into the classroom by using existing sites, creating your own materials, or through student project work.

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Course Syllabus

Effective Course Outlines (PDF file)

Preparing a Syllabus - a checklist
Teaching Support Services, University of Guelph
A comprehensive checklist of items to include in your course outline, including recommendations for students with disabilities.

Master Syllabus Form
The Sheridan Centre for Teaching and Learning, Brown University
Designed for Brown University faculty, this template provides a model for designing a course outline. Accompanying instructions are provided.

Writing a Syllabus
Centre for Faculty and Evaluation Development, Kansas State University
This three-page PDF document provides suggestions for inclusion in a course outline.

How to Improve your Teaching with the Course Syllabus
Observer Newsletter, American Psychological Society
Author Drew Appleby offers advice on preparing a syllabus to increase communication effectiveness and improve teaching.

Building a Better Syllabus
Office of Teaching Effectiveness, University of Colorado
This two-page document briefly outlines what makes a good syllabus and provides a checklist for review.

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Syllabus Resources

Learning-centered Syllabi Workshop
Centre for Teaching Excellence, Iowa State University
Author Lee Haugen takes you through a process of preparing a learning-centred syllabus. A table of contents is provided along with a list of references.

Appendix B: Preparing a Syllabus - a checklist
Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Penn State University
A comprehensive checklist with select links to other sites for syllabus examples and more detailed information about syllabus contents is provided.

Instructors Template for Preparing Guidelines to Help Students Succeed in Your Courses
The Office of Faculty and TA Development, Ohio State University
In addition to providing course information in your syllabus, add a section which offers guidines and advice for succeeding in your course. Suggestions are provided.

Developing Course Profiles for the Web
Teaching Support Services, University of Guelph
In response to the VPAC mandate to phase in course profiles (which supplement course calendar descriptions), TSS has developed a range of services and resources to help faculty meet this goal.

Example of a Course Syllabus on the Web - BIOL-1040

Check your department/college website for links to other examples of online syllabi.

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First Class Meetings

Planning is the Key: Administrative Details for the First Day of Class
Centre for Teaching Development, University of California ­ San Diego
This document offers a quick, itemized list of considerations for first class meetings grouped under eight subtopics. They include: information to provide, classroom discipline, time management, organization and presentation of materials, Desire2Learn techniques, classroom discussion, grading, and ethics.

The First Day of Class
Office of Faculty and TA Development, Ohio State University
First class meetings are important in setting the tone for the rest of the semester. In this document, faculty are advised to think carefully about how to present themselves and how to establish the course. A process to aid faculty in this endeavour is provided.

The Most Important Day: Starting Well
Delivee L. Wright, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
This document offers a range of advice for the first class meeting from setting the tone for the course to introducing the course texts. A table of contents lets you browse through individual topics. A checklist for the first day and references are also included.

Survival Tips for the First Class Meeting
M. Anne Naeth, University of Alberta
Author Anne Naeth shares a comprehensive list of tips in preparing for the first class meeting such as dealing with nervousness and getting information from your students.

Getting Started
Richard Felder, North Carolina State University and Rebecca Brent, East Carolina University
Felder and Brent share several suggestions for making the first class meeting an effective beginning to a course. They cover opening formalities, tips on learning students' names, and ideas for motivating students' interests.

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Lesson Planning/Assignment Design

Assignment Design
Writing Consulting: Faculty Resources
This resource provides a process to assist faculty and teaching staff in designing effective assignments that achieve course goals and learning outcomes.

Questions for Lesson Planning

Teaching and Learning Centre, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
As the title of this document suggests, seven questions are posed to help faculty in the lesson planning process.

Lesson Planning Procedures
Faculty Development, Honolulu Community College
This document stresses the importance of lesson plans to being organized and managing time effectively. Three stages of lesson planning are presented.

Planning a Class Session
Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Penn State University
This short document highlights the importance of being adequately prepared for class, offering a three step approach: getting the big picture, filling in the details, and gauging your progress.

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TRC Resources - A Selection

Angelo, T.A. & Cross, P. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Instructors. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Davis, B. (1993). Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Diamond, R. M. (1998). Designing and Assessing Courses and Curricula. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gibbs, G. (1992). Problems and Course Design Strategies. The Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council.

Gibbs, G. (1995). Assessing Student Centred Courses. Oxford: The Oxford Centre for Staff Development.

Gronlund, N. (1995). How to Write and Use Instructional Objectives. (5th edition). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Inc.

Grunert, J. (1997). The Course Syllabus: A Learner-Centred Approach. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Hatfield, S.R. (1995). The Seven Principles in Action. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Co. .

Lovell-Troy, L. & Eickmann, P. (1992). Course Design for College Teachers. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, Inc.

Pregent, R. (1994). Charting Your Course: How to Prepare to Teach More Effectively. Madison, WI: Magna Publications, Inc.

Walvoord, B.E. & Anderson, V.J. (1998). Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

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