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Workshops - Master Class Series 1: Effective Course Design
in the Center for Teaching and Learning

Whether you are teaching face-to-face or online, Effective Course Design, will guide you through the process of designing your course with all the critical elements necessary for your students succeed.  With a solid foundation in learning theory and instructional design, regardless if this is your very first course or your fiftieth, you learn theories and concepts you can apply directly to your course to improve its design and functionality. 

Outcome:  At the conclusion of the course, you will have a fully developed design document for your course which outlines the overall purpose and learning objectives of the course, the structure and key assignments, and module level objectives, assignments, and content.

Criteria:  The design document will be assessed using a rubric that contains criteria that fall into three main categories:

  • Alignment – The design document shows strong alignment between the stated learning objectives, proposed assignments, and identified content.
  • Engagement – The design document includes activities and assignments which actively engages the student with the content, their classmates, and you, the instructor.
  • Rigor – The design document demonstrates that the proposed activities and assignments provide the students an adequate introduction to the content, appropriate depth and practice in working with the content, and effective assessment(s) of their knowledge and skills in order to determine mastery of the stated learning objectives.

Learning Objectives:  The following learning objectives provide the framework for the course.  At the end of the course, you should be able to:

  1. Describe the five core elements, identified in the CLEAR model, which comprise a quality course
  2. Create measurable learning objectives which accurately defines the skills, knowledge, and/or behavior expected of the student after they complete your course.
  3. Explain the concept of alignment with a course in terms of objectives, assignments, and content at the course and module level.
  4. Explain the reasons why engagement is critical for any course.
  5. Identify ways to engage students in various contexts and disciplines.
  6. Explain the concept of academic rigor from an accreditation and pedagogical viewpoint.
  7. Estimate the amount of student effort required to complete a course using an established rigor calculator.
  8. Create a course structure that includes an appropriate level of engagement and rigor.


  1. Overview of Course
  2. The CLEAR Method
  3. The Environment
  4. Core of Course Design – Learning Objectives
  5. Alignment
  6. Creating a Course Structure
  7. Incorporating Engagement and Rigor
  8. Creating the Design Document
  9. Estimating Student Effort

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