CETLCenter for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning


Course Design


As you prepare to teach a course, effective course design can not only assist in making your teaching experience easier, but can also facilitate student learning. Good design can maximize learning while reducing student confusion by clarifying expectations. 

The foundation of course design is student learning outcomes. Course-level outcomes drive module objectives for particular units within a course. Assessment, activities, and assignments are directly linked to outcomes to assure consistency and student learning. By beginning at the end, the course outcomes provide a common thread throughout the course as well as context for the content that will be covered. Content can be carefully curated by using the student learning outcomes as a guide.

Reflection is throughout the course design process is key to inform future iterations of the course. While many of us would like to plan a course and be done with it, course improvement based on instructor self-reflection and student feedback can aid in creating a better course and teaching experience the next time the course is taught.

CET&L Contact

If you would like to discuss course design for an existing course or if you are preparing for a new course, please contact Anna Donnell to learn more about CET&L programs, faculty consultations, and additional resources. 

Anna Donnell



Our Model


Starting with a solid understanding of your students, the course outcomes, and their connection to the curriculum provides you with a foundation for the course design process.


Learning objectives for each unit of the course serve as the roadmap for the course.  The approach and format of your course dictate how your students will interact with the material.


Designing major assessments to measure learning outcomes throughout the course will ensure that  students are evaluated on the skills you want them to develop. The assessments and learning objectives can then guide in the types of activities/assignments that support student learning.


Using the assessments and learning objectives as your guide to create the course content generates a natural flow between components of the course.


Keeping a record of  your notes on each class, collecting student feedback, and reviewing student success in activities/assignments provides the basis for both improving upcoming class sessions and the overall course the next time it is taught.


Reflecting at each step of the design, development, and teaching process provides insight to how the course is meeting student needs and program requirements.