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
- Online Tutorial on Course Design:
Tewskbury, Barbara J. and Macdonald, R. Heather (2005). Cutting Edge Course Design Tutorial
This tutorial will help you:
- Articulate goals for a course or portion of a course.
- Build a course or portion of a course that meets those goals and assesses student learning.
- Explore a variety of teaching techniques that emphasize student engagement and that place responsibility for learning on the students.
- Develop a plan for a rigorous, effective, and innovative course.
- Course Design – Vanderbilt University
Includes: Overview - Basic Principles – Specific Tools and Strategies – Models and Case Studies – (N.B. The section, “Resources”, needs updating).
- Course Design – University of Washington
- Course and Program Design – University of Delaware
- How do I Design a Course? – State University of New York - Albany
Additional Suggested Readings:
- Diamond, Robert M. Designing and Assessing Courses and Curricula: A Practical Guide (2008). 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Focuses on a learner-centered approach to course and curriculum design, including sections on clarifying instructional goals and learning outcomes, using technology, creating a syllabus, designing, implementing, and assessing the learning experience, respecting diversity, and evaluating the curriculum. DOH LB2361.5.D5 2008
- Duffy, D.K. Teaching Within the Rhythms of the Semester (1995). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Includes sections on teaching styles, creating a "superior" syllabus, establishing community in the opening weeks, beating the doldrums in the interim weeks, and achieving closure in the final weeks. DOH LB2331.D83 1995
- Prégent , R. Charting Your Course: How to Prepare to Teach More Effectively (2000). Madison, WI : Atwood. A systematic approach to course planning that applies to all disciplines and course types. Prégent stresses analysis, planning, critical thinking, and careful evaluation, and provides step-by-step examples of how actual new courses were designed and prepared. Sections include analyzing teaching situations, formulating course objectives, planning to evaluate students' learning, choosing teaching methods and materials, making detailed course plans, preparing and delivering a lecture, training students for group work, and evaluating teaching. DOH LB2331.P6813 2000
- Smith, Robin M. (2008). Conquering The Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Online Course Design. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. DOH LB1044.87.S617 2008
- Stout, Julie C. (2001). “Radical Course Revision: A Case Study,” National Teaching and Learning Forum Vol. 10, No. 4, May 2001.
See also: Syllabus Design