Top 5 Tips

1. Take 3 Steps Backwards - Starting with the end in mind: 1) identify the learning objective; 2) design assessments; and 3) plan learning opportunities.

2. Be a SMARTE Pants - Use the CTL revised acronym to assist you in writing learning objectives.

3. Design for Accessibility - Increase accessibility for all learners by intentionally applying Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

4. Teach Transparently - When writing and communicating directions for an assignment include the purpose, task description, and criteria for successful completion.

5. +1 - Break up your (re)design efforts into manageable chunks by experimenting with small, targeted, and incremental changes.

Read this document to learn about these tips.

What is Course Design?

The instructor understands the central concepts, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and is able to plan for students’ development of knowledge over time. Instructors are able to identify where the courses s/he teaches fit into the program’s curriculum and uses this information to intentionally design courses to develop students’ knowledge and skills at the appropriate level of rigor. The instructor ensures alignment between course outcomes and course content, course content and the assessment tools. Prior to teaching a course the instructor identifies the “critical points” in the course where students are most likely to struggle, and plans additional supports to help learners make accurate sense of the difficult content.


Because we are goal-driven, essential to any learning experience is a clear objective making explicit what the target is, how to meet it, and ways to identify it’s achievement. SMARTE is an acronym that can be used when designing objectives (Howland & Amobi, 2020). They should be Student-centered and Specific; Measureable; Aligned, Attainable, and Authentic; Relevant; Time-bound; and Equitable.

Program and Course Design

Backwards Design as a Way Forward

This article compares the approach of backwards design to that of a journey.

Acknowledgements: Todd Zakrajsek, The Scholarly Teacher

A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing

This document, from the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Iowa State University, provides an overview of Anderson and Krathwohl’s revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Open Syllabus Project

The Open Syllabus Project (OSP) collects and analyzes millions of syllabi to support educational research and novel teaching and learning applications. Use this site to support you in developing your syllabus and selecting texts for students to read.

Outcomes and Alignment

Learning Goals for Graduates (LGGs)

In alignment with broad, university-wide efforts to improve student success and engagement, in 2009 and 2010 the university undertook a comprehensive review of the Baccalaureate Core general education program resulting in the adoption of a set of comprehensive Learning Goals for Graduates encompassing undergraduate learning in academic programs, general education and the co-curriculum. Throughout the Bacc Core review process, faculty focus groups revealed substantial interest in expanding faculty development resources as a means to deepening faculty engagement and student learning in the Bacc Core and, more generally, in the seven areas of the Learning Goals for Graduates. Since then, the CTL has become a consortium of faculty and curriculum development programs aligned with these Learning Goals. -Competency and Knowledge in Multiple Fields -Critical Thinking -Pluralism and Cultural Legacies -Collaboration -Social Responsibility and Sustainability -Communication -Self-Awareness and Life-Long Learning

Learning Outcomes

This image identifies the three core components of a learning outcome.

Backwards Design: Alignment

The following image represents the alignment among university goals and outcomes.

Baccalaureate Core Outcomes

For all Bacc Core courses, the relevant Category Learning Outcomes must appear verbatim on the course syllabus and must be assessed. Find this language attached.

Critical Thinking

Beyond Bloom: Types of Thinking.

OSU's Syllabus Minimum Requirements and Syllabus Templates

This document outlines the minimum requirements for an OSU course syllabus and links to the syllabus templates for various types of regular courses.

Course Content

Open Educational Resources

MERLOT. Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching is “a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy”.

OER Commons

Open Educational Resources

OSU Libraries

Library faculty can work with you to incorporate library or archives research into your course.

Copyright @ OSU

This website provides an overview of copyright, focusing on re-using other people's works in academic contexts.

Acknowledgements: Michaela Willi Hooper, Scholarly Communication Librarian