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Course Planning

Planning a New Course?
This site will step you through a planning process.  Using this you can write or revise the major pedagogical sections of your course syllabus.

Firstly consider: Who are your students? what are their characteristics? their age/s? their cultural backgrounds? doing a General Ed requirement? lower or upper division? are they grad students?
Can you anticipate their likely prior knowledge of the course content and educational experiences in this field?
What are their likely reasons for selecting your course?

1. Start your syllabus with an (outward-looking) Course Description & Broad Goals
Address: Content, Ideas, Focus, Key Questions, Scope, Connections...
This opening statement typically sets out the big ideas that - ideally - will stay with your students for a long time after the course, and even after their college days have ended!  

Conncetions: At this point you can also explain how your course connects outwardly into the professions/s and disciplinary field nationally and internationally, and how it intersects with other departmental UG/Grad program/s
- is it a survey course? a prerequisite for other courses?
- is it cross-listed with other departments?
- are there prerequisite courses that came before, or co-requisite courses running parallel?
- is this course a pre-req. for another to come?

2. Student Learning Outcomes
are at the heart of your syllabus and they are key to successful student learning experiences.  One lateral way to think about this:  How would you tell your neighbor's daughter what she will take away your 10-week course?  Or ask yourself: What difference/s will my course make to the students who complete it? How will my students be transformed?

Draw up a set of 3-4 learning outcomes, keeping in mind that your instructional techniques and your assessment requirements will enable the achievement of these learning outcomes.  This interconnection of student learning outcomes, instructional methods and assessment practices (and weightings) is referred to as "constructive alignment".   

When they are handed a new syllabus, students typically turn to the assessment requirements straight away, asking, "What do I need to do to pass/get an A in this course?"  If your syllabus is constructively aligned, students will also engage strategically with your course content, classes and activities and not just wait until the major paper or final exams to exert effort.  When the learning outcomes are intimately connected to all aspects of the learning experience, from the students' perspective, everything in the course becomes relevant and  purposeful.

Learning outcomes speak directly to your students. Write them in the 2nd person "you".  They do not necessarily have to be behaviorally demonstrable, but your students should be enabled to demonstrate (levels of) achievement of them via your instructional methods and assessment.

Assessment Requirements
Next, plan how you will assess your students' learning and give them feedback. Assessment should directly and obviously assess the student learning outcomes.  The weightings of your assessment requirements will send clear signals to students about the value you are placing on certain assignments and learning outcomes.

Workload: The feasibility of assessment is important too. How much work are you creating for your student? How much workload are you giving yourself and your TAs?  What kinds of feedback on student learning will you provide? consider using grading rubrics - which both define the key expectations and elements of the assignment , but also give you a manageable framework for grading.

Instructional Methods, Learning Activities
Finally, with SLOa and Assessment Requirements in place, you can plan your teaching and learning activities.  What will your students do (in-class, out-of-class, online) to achieve and demonstrate the student learning outcomes?

Course planning

consultation contacts

George Michaelsexecutive director2130 Kerr Hall
work805-893-2378
lisa berrysenior instructional consultant1130 Kerr Hall
work805-893-8395
mindy colininstructional consultant1130 Kerr Hall
work805-893-2828
Mary Lou Ramos database and ESCI administrator1130 Kerr Hall
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Aisha Wedlaw ESCI assistant1124 Kerr Hall
work805-893-4278
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