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Checklist of Effective Course Design Components

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  1. Instructor Information: besides name & contact information, how about…
    • Teaching philosophy? (your approach to course instruction)
    • Your availability?
    • Can students e-mail you on the weekend and expect a reply?
    • Do you want students to use Sakai/Isaak e-mail or Brock e-mail?
    • How often is e-mail checked and what is a reasonable return rate?
    • Team teaching?
    • Who are your TAs/course support people and where are they located? Ie. course coordinators/library support specialists/administrative assistants?
    • What are the TA’s roles and responsibilities? E.g. “The teaching assistants and I adopt a team-based approach to supporting and assessing your learning. Please consult with your TA regarding questions relating to course assignments, grading etc…”
    • What is your commitment to the students in your course?
    • What do you expect students to commit to you?
    • Will you include student codes of conduct or share with students expectations surrounding confidentiality (with other student information; expectations regarding professionalism and establishing positive and risk-free learning environments)
  2. Course Information:
    • What is the course calendar description? (what did you originally promise to deliver?)
    • Course goals/objectives
    • What do you want to accomplish? What do you want students to learn?
    • What will students be able to do upon completion of the course?
    • Topics, sequencing and themes
    • What are the essential topics? LESS IS MORE…
    • In what order will they be encountered? List dates, etc…
    • How are they linked or connected?
    • What is the relationship between this course and others in the program? Why are there prerequisites or co-requisites and what is the connection?
  3. Course Materials:
    • What are the students responsible for in terms of readings, texts, films, etc?
    • What is required reading and which ones are recommended?
    • Are there supplementary resources or resources on reserve?
    • Have you allowed sufficient time for all students to access reserve materials?
  4. Instructional Strategies:
    • What is your instructional approach in lectures and seminars?
    • Is there an expectation that students will be participatory in the lecture setting?
    • What active learning techniques will be used? Eg. “Students will be required to engage in debate and participatory exercises designed to…”
    • What is the format for seminars/labs?
    • Technology:
    • e.g. Do you use Sakai/Isaak and to what purpose? Is there an expectation for participation?
  5. Assessment and Evaluation:
    • Student assessment:
    • How will you know when the teaching and learning goals have been accomplished?
    • Do the assessment activities respond to the original goals? Ie. Are you testing what you are teaching?
    • Are the tests for evaluation purposes only or also for teaching?
    • Are the assignments equally distributed in terms of timing and weight distribution?
    • Are the assignments equally distributed according to type of evaluation and levels of knowledge/analysis/application?
    • When are the exams held and what format will they take?
    • What materials will be allowed in exams?
    • Clear criteria:
      • Do the students know how they will be evaluated for each piece of work?
      • How will course participation be assessed?
      • What is the relation between participation and attendance?
      • What are the timelines/deadlines/penalties submission and for returning assessed work to the students?
    • Course/Instructor assessment/evaluation (student feedback):
      • Will students have an opportunity to provide feedback on the course before the end of the course? (formative?)
      • Will you provide an opportunity to share this feedback with the class and discuss how changes may be made?

Note: Students also require time learning about the purpose of a course outline, its contractual nature and its importance in guiding learning. Some instructors might include questions about the course outline on the tests or exam. It is an integral part of the course and should be valued as guiding document. This means instructors must spend time discussing with students the various components of the outline and the ways in which they are integrated.

Some instructors opt to circulate an abbreviated version at the beginning of class, moving to the fuller, more detailed version as the course begins to develop. Concept maps can also be helpful in graphically portraying the key content areas of a course and the associated objectives and evaluative pieces.

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