Documentation:Begin your Journey in Course Design

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In this engaging two-part workshop, you will explore four stages of course design: reflecting on situational factors, writing learning outcomes, and exploring assessment options and instructional strategies to support learners. This workshop is for instructors and TAs who are designing courses or modules, and staff in co-curricular roles who design workshops and non-credit courses. No matter the scale, learn how to design effective learning environments for your audience.

By the end of the two-part workshop, you will:

  • Understand the stages of learner-centred course design
  • Value the role of learning outcomes
  • Expand your evaluation and/or assessment toolkit
  • Explore pedagogy and active learning techniques

Pre-work Activities

  1. WATCH: Please watch this brief video on Backwards Design (up to 3:50 mins):
  2. READ: Please read this very brief article on Learner-Centred Teaching:
  3. REVIEW: Review these two models for course design:
  4. REFLECT & WRITE: You may already have a course or co-curricular project in mind but if not, decide on a course or project to "simulate" for the workshop. Below are some questions for you to consider. Write down your responses, and if you're not sure, take some time to reflect on the question. Write down your responses, and bring them to Day 1 of the workshop:
    • What are you designing--is it a course, workshop, module, etc.. Write down some of the details about the project and about your goals for the project.
    • Who are you designing this [course/workshop/module] for? What do you know about your audience or your learners? What are their needs and goals?
    • How does this [course/workshop/module] fit into the broader picture? Is it part of a larger program, does it have pre-requisites? Has it been offered in the past, and if so, in what forms (face-to-face, online, blended)? In what ways is your field or discipline changing, and how might this be important (ie. are there new movements on the horizon that should be reflected in the project)?
    • What else do you know about the course/workshop/module that is important to consider? Are there some known factors or constraints of your course/workshop/module? (For example: class size, teaching assistant support, technical support, administrative support, role of technology and/or technological support, time, experience, space)

Workshop 1: Wednesday, February 26

In this first workshop, we'll introduce the learner-centred approach to course design, explore situational factors related to your project and craft learning outcomes.

Homework before Day 2:

Expand what you already know about assessment or evaluation (choose based on your type of project)

  • Evaluation: look for an evaluation framework that you think will be useful (one very popular example is Kirkpatrick’s 4-levels; see resources below)


  • Assessment: review resources on classroom assessment techniques, looking to expand your toolkit (see resources below)

Workshop 2: Wednesday, March 4

In this second workshop, we'll continue exploring the last two stages of design: assessment/evaluation and instructional strategies. We will introduce the concept of alignment.


Learner-Centred Practice

Learning Outcomes


  • Align Assessments: Carnegie-Mellon's (Eberly Centre) resource for checking alignment between learning outcomes, assessments and activities.


Evaluation: Kirkpatrick's 4-Level Evaluation

Instructional Strategies

Syllabus Design