Center for Teaching Excellence

Design Your Course


Goals, Assessment, and Teaching Tools

Teaching success starts way before the first day of class. Crucial decisions about what you want your students to learn affect everything you do, and allow you to plan what to teach, how to teach it, and how to figure out whether it resulted in meaningful student learning. 

The basic components of planning are:

  • Goals. Identify your desired results.
  • Evidence. Consider what evidence will show you how the students' learning is progressing.
  • Tools. Plan learning experiences and instruction so the students can engage the new material and apply it, providing the raw material for progress toward your goals
  • Communication. Taking all of this into consideration, draft a Syllabus that will guide your students through the course.

A number of resources are available to walk you through this process. Here are links to some of the most often cited -- choose the one that works best for you.

Design Your Course (theoretical and practical steps from Carnegie Mellon)

Deep Learning for the New Teacher (reflects on the challenges and rewards of planning a course starting with learning goals rather than just chunking content)

Cutting Edge Course Design Tutorial (originally for Geology, but works for most subjects)

Planning Your Course:  A Decision Guide (Cornell)

Dee Fink, A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning (theory plus concrete guidance)

Speaking of Teaching, Designing Courses (Stanford)

Teaching and Learning Bulletin, Design a Course (U Washington)