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dents will have learned from the course
when it is over, and then figuring out
how best to help them achieve these goals.
This model for designing courses is
intended to make the process both
more efficient for you and to help focus
your attention on where you can make
the biggest difference for your students.
Here’s how it works:
First Steps
Although “designing backward” is the
heart of this process, we suggest that
before you begin designing your course
that you pay attention to some other
initial considerations, like the nature of
your students, your own strengths as a
teacher, and the curricular framework
the course may need to fit into.
Who are the students that will be
taking this course Will they be majors
or non-majors Will the course be
required or elective for them Will the
students be freshmen and sophomores
Juniors and seniors What prior learn-
ing will they have had What are the
best ways to find out What assump-
tions about the subject might they need
to unlearn Why will the students be
taking the class (as opposed to why you
hope they are taking the class)
Next, reflect on your strengths as a
teacher: what do you do best Giving
lectures, leading discussions, designing
writing assignments, designing exams
Another way to put it: how will you
very year, thousands of university
professors, lecturers, and graduate
students sit down at their desks and
design courses. They start out excited,
their desks are stacked high with all the
material they want to cover, but there
never seems to be enough time in the
academic calendar to cover everything.
So compromises are made: topics are
cut, or several topics get crammed
together in a single lecture, and in the
planning crunch that inevitably occurs
as the deadline for ordering materials
approaches, assignment design gets
pushed aside until a later date, usually
well into the school term—about a
week before the assignment is due.
Sound familiar Interested in a dif-
ferent model for designing courses The
Center for Teaching and Learning offers
quarterly workshops on designing
courses for members of the Stanford
teaching community, and CTLs three
Associate Directors also offer individual
consultation on course design (see CTL
contact numbers on the back page to
make an appointment).
At CTL, we have found helpful the
concept of learning-centered course
design, in which the teacher designing
the course first identifies the learning
goals of the course, and then “works
backwards:” designing the course from
the perspective of what we hope our stu-
Speaking of
Vol. 13, No. 2
Designing Courses
How will you most likely be able to
make a difference for your students
Fall Quarter 2004
Friday, September 24
8:00 am to 12 noon
In Building TCSEQ
With additional
afternoon workshops!
most likely be able to make a difference
for your students Try making a list of
your strengths as a teacher and how you
hope to make a difference for your stu-
dents. See if it will be possible or appro-
priate to play to your strengths (or
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