Session 2: Designing a Course and Constructing a Syllabus

Thoughtful course design begins with the articulation of goals and intended learning objectives. When preparing to teach a course, you should ask: What do I want the students to know and what skills do I want them to have when they finish my course? Once those questions are answered, the next step is to identify the specific ways in which students will achieve those goals. What big ideas should students understand? What topics will be covered? What pedagogies will you employ? Finally, you need to think about assignments and exams that will further student learning and help you determine if the desired learning has been achieved. With these decisions made, it becomes relatively straightforward to write a syllabus that clearly describes your expectations and the requirements of the course.

Learning Objectives

After completing this session, the participant will be able to:

  • State the components of a syllabus.
  • Identify the components of Backward Course Design.
  • Evaluate content for a course you would like to teach based on content priorities.
  • Define and develop learning objectives for a course you would like to teach.

Pre-Session Assignments

Before the session begins, please complete the following items.

  1. Read the following articles:
    • Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Chapter 1: Backward design. In Understanding by design (Expanded 2nd ed., p. 13-64). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. [PDF]
    • Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Chapter 2: Clarifying content priorities. In Understanding by design (Expanded 2nd ed., p. 65-73). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. [PDF]
    • Munzenmaier, C. (2013). Bloom’s taxonomy: What’s old is new again. The Learning Guild Research, 3–25. [PDF]
  2. In addition, generate a list of topics for a course that you teach or would like to teach. Please have the list of topics ready at the beginning of the session as it will be an integral part of an in-class exercise.

Session Outline

We have provided a session outline for this session. The outline is designed to serve as a guide while you are participating in the video and interactive activities and it may also serve as a support for note taking.

Two file formats of the outlines are provided for this session. The Adobe Reader [PDF] format is provided for easy viewing and printing, and the Microsoft Word [DOC] format is provided to allow you to add your notes by typing them directly into the outline during the session.

Additionally, the session presentation slides are provided for your reference [PDF].

NOTE: This section of the session page will provide a link to the outline file. However, this and all other course files are also available in the Session Files folder located at the bottom of this and every session page.

Session Chat Room

For this session we will utilize a chat room to provide you with real-time interaction with your peers and instructors. During the session time, the instructors will be logged into and available in the provided chat room. This tool provides a wonderful opportunity for you to interact with your instructors and peers in real-time.

Please use the chat room during the scheduled times to send and receive real-time messages between your peers and instructors regarding the session content. The chat room is provided as a real-time interactive tool for you to post questions and comments to your instructors.

We recommend that during each scheduled session you have two browser windows open: one to display the chat window and the other to display the online course session page. By having two windows open at the same time, both the chat room and session content will be visible at all times.

Session Introduction

Welcome to the second of five sessions included in our Best Practices for Teaching and Learning course. During this session, we will interact with each other using pre-recorded video lectures that include pauses where you will engage in a variety of activities. Please ensure you have the chat window available during this session for directions, questions, and comments from your instructors and peers. Some of the activities will require you to interact with your peers, watch additional videos, and post responses to provided discussion forums located within the online course room.

We look forward to the opportunity to interact with you in the online chat room as well as during this session.

During the video, be prepared to pause the video and think about the questions posed.

Download the transcript for Session 2 Introduction video.

Constructing a Syllabus

In this segment of the video, we will discuss how to construct an effective syllabus for a course. During this video segment, an example syllabus, which is provided below, will be referenced.

Download the transcript for the Constructing a Syllabus video.

Designing a Course Through Backward Design

The third video segment of Session 2 will focus on the use of backward course design to create courses that will help students better understand course material and enhance their ability to transfer knowledge to new situations. During this video you will instructed to pause the video and post to the chat room or a discussion forum.

Download the transcript for the Designing a Course Through Backward Design video.

Session 2 Activity 1: Discussion Forum for Pair-Share Activity
Session 2 Activity 2: Discussion Forum for Think-Pair-Share Activity

Developing Learning Objectives

In the last video segment of Session 2, we will focus on the creation of learning objectives that accurately reflect the knowledge, skills, and attitudes you would like your students to obtain. During this video you will instructed to pause the video and post to the chat room or a discussion forum.

Download the transcript for the Developing Learning Objectives video.

Prior to leaving this session, follow the MUD card link and complete the survey to provide the instructors with information regarding your understanding and any remaining questions you may have. Remember that the MUD card helps us understand how you are doing and if there are topics that we still need to address. We look forward to your comments and feedback. Thank you!

Session 2 Activity 3: Discussion Forum for Think-Pair-Share Activity
Session 2 Activity 4: Discussion Forum for Questions and Comments
Session 2 MUD card: Designing a Course and Constructing a SyllabusFeedback

Post-Session Assignment

Click the Post-Session Assignment link for the instructions and requirements for this sessions assignment. Note that this assignment will be evaluated.

Post-Session Assignment for Designing a Course and Constructing a Syllabus

Video Download

Download the Session 2 Designing a Course and Constructing a Syllabus full video [283 MB, ZIP].