Course Design and Syllabus Construction
Dr. Anne Marchant, Director
Center for Teaching and Learning
Learning Objectives for this Module
Students completing this lesson will be
• Articulate the qualities of a well
• Create a well balanced syllabus
consistent with best practices
• Plan lessons from a student centered
Think about courses you have taken.
What was the best course you ever
What was the worst course you ever
What made those experiences really good or bad?
As you go through this
presentation, imagine topic you’d like to
Think about how it might be broken
down into modules.
This will help you to internalize the concepts presented
Technology and Media
(e.g. individual or
Considerations for Syllabus Construction
Course design must be considered at different levels to create the
richest possible learning environment.
occurs at different levels
Committee and Deans
Course Goals and Learning Objectives
Begin planning your course by writing your course goals
and learning objectives.
• Goals are usually more generalized. (e.g. Students will
become experienced practitioners.)
• Learning objectives are more specific and should be
measureable. (e.g. Students will be able to identify
different classes of medications.)
Note that you don’t need to specify an objective for
everything you teach. Just include enough objectives so
that you can measure student achievement as well as
assess the effectiveness of your teaching.
One way to do this is in a chart format
Objective Measure(s) Direct/indirect Target
Write about current
policy issues using
Paper Direct 75%
Display ability to
Class Discussion Indirect 80%
Present effectively iMovie Direct 75%
What teaching mode will best serve your
Think of some considerations.
Should your class be face to face or
distance? Should it be flipped or hybrid?
What kinds of classes are best done in
each mode? Jot down a few ideas.
Classes are said to be “flipped” when the instructor spends more
time as coach and mentor and less time lecturing.
Watch Harvard Professor Eric Mazur give a physics lesson (8
What makes him a master teacher?
Media and Technology
What is the best way to deliver content?
Mobile device? Video? Prezi? Google?
Think about the ways you like to get content.
Content: Be Prepared to Pivot!
Students may not learn in the way you planned.
While testing is one way to discover this, a polling
tool, like Socrative or PollEveryWhere, can help you
discover this before a test.
So it’s wise to include optional activities in a syllabus
to give you some extra time if needed.
Consider what learning is best done individually and what is best done
What are the advantages of collaborative learning?
Consider what type of learning is best done through each of the
• A passive activity such as reading or reviewing content
• An experiential activity (such as lab or demonstration)
• A composition activity (such as a paper, website, or presentation)
• A reflective activity (such as a blog or journal)
• A creative activity (such as creating a model, diagram, or video)
Creating an environment in which
students have opportunities to teach
each other as well as learn from each
other, rather than compete, results in
the best learning.
What are some ways you have
experienced a learning community in
How can instructors/preceptors help
to build a learning community
New Ways to Assess Student Learning
• Concept Maps
Reeves, Alternative Assessment Approaches for Online Learning.
Journal Education Computing Research, 2000.
The syllabus is a tool to communicate to
students what you will expect of them, but it
also lets them know what they can expect of
What are some strategies you might employ
to make your syllabus seem welcoming and
pleasant to read?
• Have a look at the checklist that accompanies
today’s lesson, entitled “Is Your Class High
Class?” This checklist, modeled after the
“Quality Matters” rubric, is a way to check to
see that your syllabus contains everything it
• A 3 credit course should have the equivalent of 3
hours of instruction per week for 15 weeks (45
hours total). "Carnegie unit:" 1 credit=15 hours
• A 3 credit course should require 6 hours of
outside activity (sometimes called "proxy hours")
per week in a 15 week term
(reading, papers, projects, etc.)
As you lay out a schedule for the
course material, think about what
activity will best support the
learning at each stage. What
learning activities are best done at
the beginning of a course?
Does it make sense to assign
most of the reading at the
beginning of a course? Why?
The more isolated a student feels, the more likely
cheating is to occur.
Using more, lower stakes assignments, open book
tests, and group work will discourage cheating.
Giving students access to practice tests will help
alleviate test anxiety and build confidence.
Having a frank discussion about cheating may help
For discussion: Did you know that in non-credit
MOOCS, cheating still occurs. Why is that?
What do you think about that?
Take a few minutes and draft your own syllabus for the course or
topic you plan to teach.
This will help you to remember the concepts we have talked
about today and identify any questions you might have.
• Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org