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 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.

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.


Writing Course Learning Outcomes and Student Learning Objectives.

Course Learning Outcomes are directed goals that encompass the knowledge, skills, abilities, or attitudes students should have achieved by the end of your course. Course Learning Outcomes emphasize what students can do with what they have learned, resulting in a product or evidence that can be evaluated. All Course Learning Outcomes can be found in UC's eCurriculum system. CET&L developed this guidesheet to help you write your Course Level Outcomes.

We encourage faculty to divide their course into smaller modules or units to help students easily navigate content around particular themes or weeks. Each module is guided by Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) which students should be able to achieve by the end of the module. Similar to Course Learning Outcomes, Student Learning Objectives are measurable and drive assessments and activities.

The same principles apply to writing both Course Learning Outcomes and module level Student Learning Objectives, but Student Learning Objectives tent to be slightly more specific.

Student Learning Outcome/Objective Rubric

Writing Student Learning Outcomes and Objectives is an iterative process. This rubric was created by the UC Provost Office and CET&L as a way to assess SLO’s and can be used as you write, review, and revise your Student Learning Outcomes and Objectives.

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy of Cognitive Skills and Action Verbs

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a way to classify levels of learning. Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Skills is a helpful and frequently used resource when writing student learning outcomes and objectives.

UC Syllabus Template

The Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning (CET&L) created the UC Syllabus Template which is accessible and contains recommended topics from UC Faculty Senate. This is a good place to start if you are creating a new syllabus or would like to reformat a syllabus.

Faculty can view their course information in eCurriculum such as course learning outcomes, description, and pre-requisites. Faculty can also generate a syllabus based on the template with key information for their course. To generate a syllabus for your course, log in to eCurriculcum, searching for a course based on course number (i.e. PSYC1001, BANA6037, etc.), click open, and click the Print Course Syllabus button.

Sample Syllabus Statements

The Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning (CET&L) created the UC Sample Syllabus Statements document which provides additional sample statements gathered from several instructors and other sources. These statements are examples and can be modified to meet your needs.

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.

Anna Donnell