Instructional Design Models – University of Colorado at Denver – Great resource for various design theories and links to detailed information about theories.

Five concise principles of good course design.

This website is designed to help you limit the content of your course, structure and sequence the activities and assignments, set policies, and handle administrative tasks.  A variety of links about many other subjects are also provided.

In designing or revising a course, faculty are faced with at least three crucial decisions:  what to teach, how to teach it, and how to ensure that students are learning what is being taught.  Often the most difficult step in preparing or revising a course is deciding which topics must be excluded if the whole is to be manageable.  Some strategies are listed.

Many college teachers use a simple, content-centered planning model.  The operative planning questions are:
1. How much of this content can I cover?
2. How much time do I have to cover it?
3. What materials will I need to teach the course?

In most college courses, readings carry the burden of conveying content, hence they are central to the educational experience of your students.  Read all material you assign to your students, to judge relevance and identify potential problems of interpretation or elements of controversy.  In grading essay tests, you must be familiar with the sources on which they are based, whether these sources contradict one another, and whether they contain errors of fact or interpretation.

 This guide identifies the several decisions involved in designing a course,  places these decisions in an appropriate sequence, and suggests ways to make good decisions.

In the attached link, resources are available for teaching a class for the first time.  These links discuss how to structure a course, write a syllabus, take advantage of online course software, and present a lecture.

Course planning resources, questions, and answers.

For the first steps in designing an effective course and tasks in designing effective courses.

Race, religion, disability, sexual preference, academic entry level, aptitude, socioeconomic status, age, and marital status are all factors that impact how a student learns.  Your expectations, goals, and teaching style are based on your experiences, which may be quite different than those of your students.  Understanding the various learning preferences of students and differences between you and your students and among your students can help you plan your course to take advantage of diversity rather than letting it be an obstacle to student learning.

Although the first few days of a course may not completely determine how well the rest of the course works, they are vital.  A good start can carry the instructor through several weeks of early shakiness, and a bad one can take several weeks of damage control to overcome.  However, getting off to a good start can be a real challenge.

Ask yourself first what you want to accomplish during this particular class session.  Students walk in at X:00 and when they leave- what should they be able to do?  What new knowledge should they have gained and be able to use and retain?

A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning.


Examples of suggestions from the Berkeley Compendium of Suggestions for Teaching Excellence:

Suggestion 28: Keep a cumulative set of notes for each topic.  Most teachers keep a chronological set of lecture notes from the first to the most recent time they have taught a course.  Many teachers keep separate notes for each lecture topic.

Suggestion 30: Completely rework your lecture notes each time you teach the course.  It can help in rethinking the material so that the ideas seem fresh and new to both instructor and students.

Suggestion 31: Review the relevant sections of several textbooks for each lecture topic.  A Berkeley faculty member teaching a lower division course in the biological sciences says that in preparing each lecture he starts by comparing three or four introductory texts. He then looks at one or two specialized books on the given concept or biological process.

Suggestion 32: Many excellent teachers describe a two-stage process in the preparation of their lecture notes.  A history professor, for example, says “First, I write out a detailed set of lecture notes over the weekend or the night before class. Then, on the morning before class, I take about an hour and a half to reduce these notes to a brief outline on index cards.”

Teachers in several disciplines report that a major part of their preparation is rereading the texts assigned to students.  Suggestion 33: “I reread the text assignment over the weekend not only to ensure that it is fresh in my mind,” says one history professor, “but also so I can acknowledge the parts I found dull, unclear, or especially important.” 

Suggestion 34: Prepare handouts of the lecture outline and any detailed formulae, derivations, or illustrations to be presented in the class.

Suggestion 36: Teach the same course in a subsequent semester.  One chemistry professor frequently teaches the same course “back to back” in two consecutive terms. “This way I can maximize learning from mistakes I have made,” he explains.  

Suggestion 37: Audit the same or related courses taught by colleagues. This can be a much easier way to do some advanced preparation than sitting down and reading several textbooks. It forces the instructor to do some extra preparation each week.