Module Two: Course Design and Preparing a Syllabus

With an understanding of effective course design, you can begin to build your course to maximize student learning and achieve successful outcomes. Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda W. Gamson have articulated seven principles of good practice that all instructors—from the new and inexperienced to the professionals—can employ in their preparation and teaching of their classes. (1) Interaction between the student and teacher (or tutor or other expert) will keep students engaged. (2) Student interaction fosters the growth of a learning community. (3) Active learning creates a positive atmosphere and stimulates thinking and learning. (4) Rich, rapid feedback promotes student understanding and improves results. (5) Time on task keeps students focused and involved. (6) High expectations of the students’ ability to learn sets a valuable goal that can be achieved. (7) Respect for different talents and ways of learning guides your course design from delivery of content to measurement of knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

Effective teachers are mindful of these principles of best practice as they develop their courses albeit online, face-to-face, or hybrid. You articulate these principles through your syllabus, which is a contract between you and your students.

At the end of this module, you will be able to do the following;
  • Illustrate the Course Design Process
  • Examine course structure and content
  • Generalize the writing of course objectives
  • Describe the function of the course syllabus
  • Identify the necessary components of a course syllabus
  • Understand course design and syllabus preparation from the K-12 perspective

Course design is always a work in progress. You tweak and revise to accommodate your personal teaching styles, your students’ learning preferences and abilities, new developments in pedagogy and technology and other factors that affect course content and materials. Seldom do effective teachers teach the same course in the same way. With clearly defined course objectives, you establish the framework of your course that enables you to select and develop material, instructional strategies, and assignments. With those completed, you create a syllabus that provides the students with the details of your plan. The syllabus defines the roles and responsibilities of both the instructor and the learner and guides the learner to success in your course.

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