Course and Syllabus Design
Dr. Marie Norman
Teaching Consultant and Research Associate
Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence
http://www.cmu.edu/teaching
Objectives
When you leave today, you should be able to:
• Describe audience/purpose/components of a syllabus.
• Identify issues to consider when designing a course.
• Discuss the course design triangle.
• Delineate features of effective learning objectives.
Show of hands
Who has...
• TAed?
• Taught a class?
• Designed a course from scratch?
What’s in a syllabus?
Audience:
Purpose:
Components:
Who the syllabus for?
When and how is it used?
What are the parts of a typical syllabus?
Audience
Students
Colleagues
Department
Your future self
Purpose
To provide basic course info.
To generate motivation/curiosity about the subject.
To convey your expectations.
To delineate your own and students’ roles.
To serve as a contract between you and students.
To set the tone for the course.
To help students assess their readiness for the
course.
To provide resources and advice for students.
Contents: a checklist
Course name/number
Room number
Class times
Office hours
Instructor contact info
Course description
Course objectives
Prerequisites
Textbooks and readings
Course requirements
Breakdown of grades
Grading policies
Course policies
Resources for help/support
Advice
Course calendar
Others?
Syllabus analysis
What aspects of these syllabi help to facilitate student
learning and motivation?
Ability to generate curiosity/establish relevance
Clear expectations
A logical organizational structure
Approachable, supportive tone
When do you write your syllabus?
At the end of a long process of thoughtful course
design!
#1
Determine
situational factors
Class size
Length/units
Up/downstream courses
??
#2 Consider your students
Majors
Goals
Prior knowledge
??
#3 Create the 3 basic components
The Course Design Triangle
Where do you want
students to get?
How will you know
if they get there?
How will you help
them get there?
The Course Design Triangle (cont’d)
What students
should know or be
able to do by the end
of the course.
Assignments,
problem sets,
exams
(high and low stakes)
Lectures, discussions,
readings, in-class practice
opportunities
To ensure alignment: backward design
instruction
assessment
objectives
Design
learning
experiences
Determine
acceptable
evidence
Identify
desired
results
Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, Understanding By Design (2005)
Everything hinges on course objectives
Effective course objectives are...
• Student-centered
• Active
• Measurable
Why is B preferable to A?
A
Learn about the French
Revolution
B
Explain the political, economic,
and social factors that led to
the French Revolution.
Exercise
What’s wrong with these learning objectives, and how
could they be improved?
1. Give students a firm foundation in linear algebra.
2. Understand random vectors.
Understanding is invisible. What
should students be able to do that
would demonstrate understanding?
#4 Select content
Topics
Themes
Units
Texts
#5 Organize and sequence
How can you organize the material most logically?
How can assignments build from simple to complex?
What scheduling issues must you consider?
#6 Write your syllabus!
Conclusions: When designing a course...
1. Determine situational factors
2. Consider your students
3. Create the three basic components:
4. Select content
5. Organize and sequence
6. Write your syllabus
We can help! The Eberly Center offers:
• Graduate teaching seminars
• One-on-one consultations
• Web resources: www.cmu.edu/teaching
Solve a Teaching Problem
tool helps you find
appropriate strategies for
common teaching problems.
Design and Teach
Your Course
is loaded with useful
information and
examples
Check out
our
website
Download
this handy
set of
teaching
resources
Download

Transforming a System: The Student