1. Course Design Overview

Current trends in course design are moving from teacher-centered approaches to more learner-centered approaches in order to foster deeper learning. Concurrently, there is a strong movement towards blended-style delivery formats. Traditional models of education have focused on inputs. Learner-centered, blended approaches focus on outputs; the knowledge, abilities, and competencies students have actually acquired.1

As such, assessment has become inseparable from outcomes, and indeed, the two are designed in unison to complement one another. In this model, formative assessment is used in frequent intervals, to evaluate both the effectiveness of the teaching and measure if the desired outcomes are being achieved by students.

Under this new paradigm, outcomes and assessments are cyclical and recursive in nature. By using formative assessment at regular intervals, the class can be fine-tuned during the quarter if needed. The process can be referred to as the assessment/outcome cycle.

This section of the Teaching Handbook focuses on strong strategic course design that aligns learning objectives, assessments, and instructional activities. Using a backward design model, this process begins with identifying objectives and modes of assessment before making decisions about course components like instruction methods, course materials and assignment development.

Source Information

1. Frye, R., Mckinney, G. R., & Trimble, J. E. (2006). Tools and Techniques for Course Improvement: Handbook for Course Review and Assessment of Student LearningWestern Washington University: Bellingham, WA.

2. Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Chapter 1: What is Backwards Design? In Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD (Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development).

3. Design and Teach a Course: Articulate Learning Objectives, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University.