Design encompasses the act of making intentional, reflective choices about how an activity, course, or curriculum will lead to desired outcomes for student learning. These intentional choices form a learning environment in which students follow an instructional path as they build disciplinary understanding and knowledge.

Course design consultations

CNDLS' focus on course design provides structure to consultations, shaping our conversations with faculty to better understand their current teaching goals and practices in a particular course. We then work with the faculty member to identify other methods or strategies that are commensurate with those goals. Here are some sample topics of course design consultations:

  • Goals for students: What do you want them to know and be able to do at the end of the semester? How will the course build on where students started and help them move through the rest of the curriculum?
  • Authentic assignments: What assignments will allow students to reach those goals and develop skills that are enduring? The emphasis here is on developing assignments that are both integral to the course experience and provide opportunities for students to articulate and demonstrate how they think about the given topics. Examples: incremental assignments, portfolios, reflective essays, final projects that are presented to the university community or a broader audience, group work, research projects, or community-based learning projects.
  • Relevant course content: Once you have a clearer idea of the goals and assignments for the course, content choices become less about what you need to cover and more about what students need to develop a coherent understanding of the topic. What course content will directly contribute to students' understanding and help them to reach the goals you have set for them?
  • Feedback and assessment: How will you know that students have reached those goals? How can you incorporate feedback opportunities within the course beyond the usual mid-term or final? CNDLS assists in developing assessment strategies that align with your goals for student learning and yield information that will enhance your current offering of the course and help you to identify ways that you might teach the course differently the next time.

Other things course design consultations can address

Syllabi, teaching large classes, incorporation of technology to support goals and assignments, organizing group work, large-scale student-driven projects, and belonging and inclusion.

Curriculum Design

Using questions similar to those used in course design, the curriculum design process broadens to include teams of faculty working on a particular aspect of a major curriculum. Discussions about the skills, experiences, and knowledge you expect of your graduates contribute to the redesign of gateway and capstone courses, new tracks within the curriculum or common assessments that gauge disciplinary development.