Course Design and Planning

A successful course depends on the planning that precedes it. The articles and links in this section serve as planning guides for both faculty and GSIs. They provide instructions for developing a new or existing course and for creating a syllabus.

Course Design Tutorial (Carleton College)
This site provides a step-by-step approach to course planning starting with the development of goals for student learning and moving on to teaching strategies, assessment of student learning, and the syllabus. Many of the examples are drawn from the geosciences, but the principles are relevant to all disciplines.

Understanding by Design (Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching)
An overview of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe's influential book Understanding by Design and links to resources that assist instructors in applying the book's principles in their course planning.  (The full book is available electronically through the U-M library system to authenticated users.)

Designing a Course (BYU Center for Teaching and Learning)
This site offers a brief overview of course design process that begins with developing significant learning outcomes and then designing engaging learning activities that allow students to engage in a meaningful way with the course content. Adapted from Fink (2003). 

Designing Your Course (Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence)
Resources from the Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence, including a downloadable syllabus template, Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Outcomes, a course materials checklist, and reflective course planning questions.

Transparency in Teaching and Learning (TILT) (UNLV Instructional Development and Research)
Transparent teaching methods help students understand how and why they are learning course content in particular ways. UNLV's site also includes examples and resources for transparent teaching. Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Director of Instructional Development and Research at UNLV gave a talk at U-M on the research showing that increased transparency leads to positive outcomes for all students, and most of all for underserved students. The research talk was followed up by a workshop on creating a transparent assignment. View a video of the talk and workshop.

The Value of Learning Objectives (CMU Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence)
This white paper from Carnegie Mellon's teaching center offers a research basis for the importance of specifying learning objectives.

Radical Course Revision: A Case Study
This essay in The National Teaching and Learning Forum focuses on how to revise a course through rigorous, critical reflection on teaching, the same kind of systematic critical reflection that is often applied to research. This article includes four steps for successful “radical revision” of an existing course.

Foundational Course Initiative (FCI)
The Foundational Course Initiative at the University of Michigan is a partnership between CRLT and departments to fully support foundational courses - those large courses that serve as a gateway to a major or an introduction to a discipline. Using a collaborative course design approach, FCI consultants and instructors work together to study the existing course, design solutions to persistent problems of practice, innovate with technology and assessment, and support the learning of all students. Significant financial and human resources are devoted to the success and support of each foundational course.