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?
Whats in a syllabus? Audience: Who the syllabus for? Purpose: When and how is it used? Components: 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! Determine situational factors Consider your students Create basic components Select content Organize and sequence Write your syllabus
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 (contd) 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
Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, Understanding By Design (2005) To ensure alignment: backward design Determine acceptable evidence Design learning experiences Identify desired results objectives instructionassessment
Everything hinges on course objectives Effective course objectives are... Student-centered Active Measurable Why is B preferable to A? AB Learn about the French Revolution Explain the political, economic, and social factors that led to the French Revolution.
Exercise Whats 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?
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
Check out our website Design and Teach Your Course is loaded with useful information and examples Solve a Teaching Problem tool helps you find appropriate strategies for common teaching problems.