Course Design Institutes
Do you need to revise a course…
…because of changes in enrollment or for conversion to semesters? Are you preparing to teach a new course, or are you frustrated or bored with one you are already teaching? These five-part intensive institutes are designed to provide you with the tools, the time, and the collegial support to really dig in and design or re-design that course.
UCAT’s Course Design Institute (CDI) is an intensive five-part workshop in which instructors, with hands-on guidance from UCAT staff, focus on designing or redesigning a specific course. The CDI provides participants with the tools, time, and support they need as they work to build or rebuild effective, student-centered courses.
By the end of each institute, participants will have created the basic structure of a course, including plans for a syllabus, assignments, assessment tools, and a course outline. Perhaps even more importantly, they will have had a chance to exchange feedback with a diverse group of colleagues from across our university, allowing them to share their ideas about teaching and gather new ideas from their peers.
The CDI introduces participants to a process called “Backwards Design,” a concept put forth by educators Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their book Understanding by Design. While it is tempting to begin designing a course by deciding what content to cover, “Backwards Design” suggests that instructors start by identifying specific, student-centered goals and objectives before they choose any other elements of the course.
In the CDI, one of the first things we ask instructors to do is to define their goals and objectives-what they want their students to know or care about and what they want their students to be able to do upon successful completion of their course. Then, instructors design specific assignments and assessment tools that “align” with their course goals and objectives. Finally, instructors identify teaching strategies and discipline-specific content such that all elements of their course are “aligned” with the foundational aims identified at the outset. By the end of the CDI, each of these components is arranged into an “Integrated Course Plan” that is designed to best enable student learning.
When designing the CDI, we actually used the “Backwards Design” process to create our course plan! Below, you can see various steps we took and get a sense of the structure of the CDI.
First, we generated our participant-centered goals:
Then, we identified observable and measurable learning objectives — specific things participants would be able to do by the end of the institute that would demonstrate they had met the goals:
Finally, we designed specific activities that aligned with our objectives for CDI participants:
The arrows in the image below show the connections or alignment between each of the various components in the “Integrated Course Plan” for the Course Design Institute:
|May 2014||Tuesdays & Thursdays (5/8, 5/13, 5/15, 5/20, 5/22)||10am-1pm|
|June 2014||Monday–Friday (6/2–6/6)||10am-1pm|
“UCAT is an excellent and welcoming resource for curriculum redesign.”
“I am taking with me a real course, that didn’t exist before, that I actually really want to teach!”
“The logic of the [Institute] structure is incredibly valuable. The content was fantastic; broken down into logical steps.”
“Now I will not get overwhelmed with course design because I know how to break things down into manageable units with course design and assessment and grading rubrics.”
“I will use this same process for every course I teach. Thank you so much!”
“I have learned so much from the expertise and experiences from faculty of other disciplines, and that a course should be developed with structure, not just out of thin air.”
“Having this dedicated time really helped me think deeply about the nature of what I’m teaching. While being structured, I felt like I had the freedom to come to my own conclusions.”
“I have a successful, effective go-to approach for revising or creating future courses. Most importantly, I have a plan and thoughtfully-prepared design for the course that I have to teach spring quarter.”