Documentation:Course Design Intensive/Facilitators Guidebook/CDI Module 2017

From UBC Wiki
Pre-work for Day 1
  • Optional readings:

Day 1


  • Introductions
  • CDI overview :
  • CDI Day 1 Agenda

Discussion: Connecting Learner-Centredness with the Backward Design approach

Discuss in table groups:

  • What is backward design (how would you explain it to your educated neighbour who does not teach and does not want a lengthy response?).
  • Why is a backwards design approach considered a learner-centred approach to course design?
What interests you or intrigues you about the concept of backward design?
What are some questions you have about the backward design process?

Presentation: Backward Design

Plan Your Course: Context and Learners

Working Doc: Key Question 1: What factors influence the design of your course?

Pair up to share your course considerations, describing how these factors influence the design of your course.

Build on the information in Planning Your Course: Things to consider, by thinking about these questions:

  • Learners: What do you know about the learners who might take your course? What do you need to find out?
  • Place: What place does your course have in the curriculum (foundational, elective, etc)? Are there pre-requisites? Is it part of a program or set curriculum?
  • Space & Technology: What role will technology/online spaces have in your course?
  • Content: In what ways is your field or discipline changing and how might this be important?  
  • Assessment: What aspects of the course will allow for learner choice?  How will learners participate in assessment of their own learning?
  • Constraints and Known Factors: What do you know about: class size, teaching assistant support, technical support, administrative support, technological support, time, experience, etc.
  • Other relevant contextual (situational) factors.

Design Feedback Table Groups

The course design process is iterative, and it is helpful to receive feedback on your ideas as you are working on them. With your design feedback group:

  • Share your course & any significant course considerations
  • Share a challenge within your course and what you hope to accomplish by Day 3

You will be presenting your course redesign progress with this group as you go along and on Day 3.

Presentation: Big ideas and enduring understandings

Additional Resources for group work:

Criteria for Big Ideas
Criteria for Essential Questions
Blog post on Big Ideas and Course Design

LUNCH 12-1pm

Plan Your Course: Big Ideas and Essential Questions

  • Course Design Working Doc: Key Question 2: What Core Understandings Guide the Learning?

This is your opportunity to identify the big ideas (enduring understandings) and essential questions relevant to your course.

FIRST: Review your Course Considerations document:

  • Imagine it is two years from now and you've run into one of your students who had taken your class this year. He's telling you that the most important thing he learned in your class was X. What do you hope the X is? Try to give an immediate response. Think about the ideal qualities, attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, skills that your student of the future might possess. Write this down.

NEXT: Reflect on your course. Ask yourself:

  • What is worthy of understanding in my course?
  • What do you hope endures for students long after your course is over?
  • Why should students take it - why should they care about what you are teaching?
  • What's the "why" of your course?
  • Remember a few outstanding students you had. What attributes did they have, and what did they know and were they able to do that others couldn't? What did that student 'get' that other students did not get?

Paired/Triad Sharing

With a pair or group of 3, share your big ideas and essential questions. Help one another to refine those.

Concept Mapping

"What does it take to think like an expert in your field?" Brainstorm your course design using concept mapping. Once have identified the big ideas, you can begin to map out the course concepts and explore what learners need to understand, know, do, to align with the big ideas of your course.

Starting from your enduring understandings/essential questions - work out from there (in concept map fashion) to identify:

  • what concepts will students need to learn in order to articulate the big ideas and essential questions?(resources/concepts, etc)
  • what do I need to provide?
  • what can they reasonably learn about/reference on their own?
  • what can they make, do, experience to help them learn?

Tips on this process:

  • Intensive writing/listing (5 minutes) anything that comes to mind – Don’t stop, but do consider what concepts your students will need to know/work with in the process of building knowledge to access the big ideas of your course
  • Circle core items and record individually on a sticky note
  • Arrange sticky notes on flip chart paper/folder, and begin to identify relationships between concepts
  • Prepare draft concept map with labelled nodes and lines


Determining Priorities for Your Course

Transfer from the concept map to your Working Docs. Prioritize your concepts into the categories provided (Know, Do, Apply, Be Familiar with)

Partner work
Pair up and share with a colleague. Take 10 minutes each to:

  • Provide overview of your process (what did you do/focus on in the solo time?)
  • Reflect on: What stands out for you at this stage?
  • Articulate what are your next steps (before Wednesday morning)?
  • Share anything else that you feel compelled to share

End of day debrief

  • Recap of Day 1
  • Lingering questions
  • Formative Assessment of the day
  • Homework for Day 2

Homework for Day 2

1. Review your work so far on your Working Docs. Before Day 2, you should have completed Part 1: Key Questions 1, 2 and 3. Please review and revise as necessary. Be sure you have determined the priorities for your course. You should be prepared on Day 2 to begin Part 2 of the Working Doc.

2. Watch Roselynn Verwood's screencast on iterating your syllabus and aligning course outcomes. We will debrief the screencast on Day 2 as an introduction to how to align your course.

Day 2

Welcome, Agenda, Debrief Feedback from Day 1

Iterative Design: Table Group Discussion

Purpose: to debrief the concept of iteration.

Group discussion: at your tables, discuss:
  • What stood out for you from the Verwood screencast - what was important in the demonstration?
  • What are the implications for your course design process?


Try writing 1 learner-centred learning outcome for your course based on criteria.

"Learning Outcomes" - Feedback

Share your learning outcome with your partner:

  • Is it a clear statement of the evidence that learners are expected to produce in order to demonstrate their learning & understanding?


Gallery Walk and Learning Outcomes

Write 3 more learning outcomes for your course based on criteria. Share with a partner (the same or someone new).

Purpose: an opportunity to get feedback on learning outcomes as you refine them.

Gallery Walk: Learning Outcomes - Feedback

Write your 3+ learning outcomes on Flipchart paper for your colleagues to read. As you walk around the room, ask yourself:

  • Are my colleagues learning outcomes a clear statement of the evidence that learners are expected to produce in order to demonstrate their learning & understanding? Are mine? What am I noticing?

Large group debrief before lunch.

Lunch 12-1pm

Alignment, 3-column course planning, and Assessment for Learning


  • Choose a higher-level (course-level) learning outcome that you will be able to develop an assessment plan for during the rest of the afternoon.
  • does it support the big idea for your course?
  • does it have enduring value (will it be something they can use/apply/be beyond the life of the course)?
  • Imagine your students have reached/attained that learning outcome. What is the evidence that your students can perform or produce that demonstrates learning the learning outcome? What is the authentic assessment?
  • Once you have reflected on your own, turn to a neighbor and review the ideas you brainstormed. Talk about the authentic assessment you came up with for your students learning. Does your neighbour have other ideas for you? Decide on the authentic assessment option you think is best.
  • Go to the last page of the Course Design Working doc and work from 3-Column Course Planning Doc. Fill in the learning outcome and the evidence/assessment section.


  • Planning your course: things to consider


Educative Assessment Techniques at UBC

An interview with Brett Gilley on 2-Stage Exam

Highlight 2 stage exam process.

2 Stage Exam Process

Design Feedback Small Groups


  • What concepts in your course are repeatedly challenging?
  • Do your 3-4 lesson-level learning outcomes from the morning help them learn these concepts?
  • If not, do your learning outcomes need to change? Or will an educative assessment technique help them learn it better?
  • What educative assessment techniques could your course include to help them achieve the higher-level learning outcome you chose for STEP 1?
  • Identify at least 1 educative assessment that assists your students' learning process for a learning outcome.
  • Now that you have identified a) the learning outcomes b) the educative assessment(s) that will help them achieve the learning outcome (s), and c) the kind of authentic assessment/evidence that might be useful, fill out the “three column planning” document.

Partner Feedback.

Large group debrief.


  • Re-cap of Day 2
  • Lingering questions
  • Formative Feedback
  • Homework for Day 3
Homework for Day 3

Day 3 will be about integrating learning activities to support the outcomes you have defined for learners and the evidence they are expected to produce. You will also be thinking about potential "learning pitfalls" that your students may experience and identify strategies for addressing those that you can incorporate into your course design plan.

1. Continue on your course design planning. You should aim to complete at least 4 of your learning outcomes and have them aligned with assessment strategies. Plan to share this with the group on Friday.

2. Identify a learning challenge or pitfall that students may face in the course. In your opinion, what are the factors that contribute to this learning challenge? Identify 3 key words that represent this challenge. Be prepared to submit this (in writing) on Day 3 so that they can be themed into groupings of "like" challenges.

Additional information: Learning challenges or pitfalls may arise from (for example):

  • misconceptions about an aspect of the subject matter
  • faulty beliefs about learning
  • problems with attitude or motivation
  • lack of preparation

3. Read: Flipping the Class for Active Learning and Promoting Active Learning

4. Read: Bart, Mary (2015) A Learner Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone For Learning - Faculty Focus

  • Describe your course from a learner centered perspective (in preparation for writing your syllabus). Write it out in order to share. Keep it short and inspirational.

5. Begin to consider a sequence for how your course will unfold - what should come first/last/in between. (Resource: Fink's Instructional Strategies handout) - note: the course concept mapping activity you did on day 1 may help you with this.

Day 3

Welcome and Review

Assessment and Alignment

Pair work: Assessment and Alignment from homework

Activity: Addressing a Learning Challenge: Modified Jigsaw

This activity is complex. By the end of it, you will be able to:

  • find examples of learner-centered, active, constructivist approaches to designing a learning environment to further develop your course design.
  • align a learning activity with a learning outcome, evidence and assessment method.
  • propose a rationale for why your chosen activity shows promise in addressing the learning challenge you have identified.

Step 1: (25 minutes) Join your assigned group (based on the themes identified in the challenges you submitted). Present the student-learning challenges to each other. Then, independently research activities that may help to address the root of your defined learning challenge. Choose a promising activity to help you address the learning challenge you have identified.

BREAK 10 minutes

Step 2: (10 minutes) Propose a rationale for your selection and get feedback from one of your groupmates on your rationale. Take a few minutes to integrate the feedback into your activity.

Step 3: (20 minutes) Form a new group (based on colour coding): each participant to share their active learning strategy/activity by describing (in a maximum 3 minute presentation to your group):

  • What is the learning challenge you're aiming to address?
  • What teaching strategy/learning activity seems promising in helping you address this challenge?
  • Why did you choose this activity?

Step 4: (15 minutes) Align your activity with one of the learning outcomes in your course plan. Adjust learning outcomes and assessment methods as necessary. Assess the fit with your enduring understandings - how does the activity support broader learning goals?

Resources on Teaching Strategies to Address Learning Challenges

Learner centered syllabus discussion

Bart, Mary (2015) A Learner Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone For Learning - Faculty Focus

  • Describe your course from a learner centered perspective (in preparation for writing your syllabus). Write it out in order to share. Keep it short and inspirational.
  • Seek feedback (design group): Do you get a feel for the course from the description? What aspects make it interesting/inspiring? What might you change/adjust?.
  • Discussion (design group) What was challenging about writing a learner centered course description? How might you involve students in this activity?

Lunch 12-1pm

Design feedback groups: Course Design Plans

Opportunity for feedback Each participant will share their work in progress in any of the following areas:

  • learner centered course description
  • course design plan (in progress)
  • learning challenge they have been working with

as well as provide peer feedback within their design feedback group (10-15 minutes each)


Next Steps


You have likely assembled many of the foundational pieces you will need to finalize your course design for the first implementation.

These are a few remaining tasks which will require your attention:

  • Develop the sequence of your course, identifying:
  • themes/focus for each week
  • what will learners be expected to do on their own outside of class?
  • what will learners do together during the class?
  • what sorts of resources, readings will learners need access to to help them with the weekly work?
  • Use the Course Sequence Planning Guide to help you. Copy as a Google Doc or download as a word doc.
  • Fine tune your design to account for common learning challenges (from today's activity)
  • Determine a grading strategy that reflects the entire scope of the learning activities and intended outcomes.
  • Prepare the course syllabus
  • Determine what sort of feedback you will need (from your students or elsewhere) in order for you to assess the first implementation and prepare for iteration.

Refer to the Resource lists from each day to support your remaining work. Best of luck on implementing your course design!