Pre-work for Day 1


Day 1


Discussion: Connecting Learner-Centredness with the Backward Design approach

Discuss in table groups:

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:

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:

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

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

FIRST: Review your Course Considerations document:

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:

Tips on this process:


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:

End of day debrief

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:


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

"Learning Outcomes" - Feedback

Share your learning outcome with your partner:



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:

Large group debrief before lunch.

Lunch 12-1pm

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




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


Partner Feedback.

Large group debrief.


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):

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

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:

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):

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

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:

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!