Course Design

In his paper, “Integrated Course Design”, L. Dee Fink notes two approaches to course design: The most common is the content-centered approach, sometimes called the “List of Topics” approach. The teacher works up a list of important topics, often using the table of contents from one or more textbooks, decides how much time to give to each topic, and how many tests will be given. The advantage of this approach is that it is relatively easy and simple; the disadvantage is that it pays virtually no attention to the question of what students might learn beyond content knowledge, the type of learning most easily forgotten.

The alternative is to take a systematic, learning-centered approach to designing courses. The heart of this approach is to decide first what students can and should learn in relation to this subject and then figure out how such learning can be facilitated. Although this approach requires more time and effort, it also offers the best chance of ensuring that students have a significant learning experience.

See: Fink, L. Dee (2005). “Integrated Course Design,” IDEA Paper #42

See also: Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by design. (2005) Expanded 2nd ed. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum. USC Web Electronic resource

Internet Resources

Additional Suggested Readings:

See also: Syllabus Design

<< Back to Teaching & Learning