The PLaCE Team regularly receives emails from MQ colleagues asking about various aspects of learning and teaching. Our usual practice is to discuss these at a team meeting, collate our responses, and send them back to the questioner. This year, we’re thinking to share these Qs – & our As – more widely.

Q If you had one favourite article or resource on course design, what would it be?

We couldn’t hone it down to just one – so here are a collection of our favourites……

A starting point for course design 

A excellent place to start is this Course Design: Questions to Consider resource from the University of Waterloo. Exploring the series of questions provided (and considering any course evaluation processes and your own philosophy of learning and teaching) will help with developing a detailed course plan. The questions are organised into 5 interrelated areas: Intended Learning Outcomes, Context, Content, Teaching Methods, and Assessment Methods.

Design and Teach your Course resources from the Eberly Centre, Carnegie Mellon University, outlines a planning process for course design which prompts you to consider who your students are before articulating your learning objectives. Alignment between learning objectives, assessments and instructional activities is seen as key to developing an internally consistent course structure.

Re-imagine an ideal program

Rethinking course design without boundaries (initially) to come up with an ideal program can provide a powerful starting point. By relaxing constraints, such as ‘all units are 13 weeks’, thinking can be directed towards purpose, learning outcomes, ideal sequencing etc that can result in a more fit for purpose program.

This Transforming Assessment webinar provides an overview of how a program re-design was done in Engineering at University of Saskatchewan where a releasing all constraints approach was used. The outcome was to use competency-based education and assessment to build the new first year program where units were differently sized and sequenced to provide for better student learning pathways.

The schedule for a re-imagined engineering program (from Re-Engineered website, Uni Saskatchewan).

Further Information:

View the Re-Engineered website from the College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, to see the result of their program re-design.

Maw, S., Huang, S., Cree, D., Kennell, G. & James, W. (2021) Lessons Learned from Using Competency Based Assessment (CBA) in a First Year Engineering Statics Course. Proceedings 2021 Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA-ACEG21) Conference. (PDF)

Design, develop, implement (DDI)

DDI focuses on a course level approach to curriculum design and was developed to align with the MQ Curriculum Architecture framework. The DDI iLearn site provides resources for staff and shows how the methodology can be applied to your course design.

From the Teche archives, here is a summary of the Design, Develop, Implement methodology and an exemplar of ARTS1000.

This article Design Develop Implement (DDI): an institution-wide learning design process outlines the DDI process and covers models and recommendations for implementation.

Invite students to co-create curriculum

There is some great students-as-partners work happening to enable co-created course design.

This Co-creating curriculum with students resource from the University of Queensland details various options for when students are invited to contribute (before, during, after the term), who is involved (all enrolled students, selected enrolled students, students not enrolled) and what is done (co-creating learning and teaching, redesigning curriculum, research) with a wealth of scholarly examples.

Western Sydney University have a Q&A guide to getting started with partnership pedagogy.

An invaluable (open access) article is Galpin et al.’s (2022) Values‐led curriculum co‐creation. This takes a students-as-partners, values-based approach to course design in cognitive psychology. It includes a thorough literature review and there is a clear description of the scholarly activities that were undertaken across different stages of the project. Some of the ways students generated ideas and surfaced their disciplinary values included:

  • Worst possible assessment idea (Mattimore, 2012): individual ideas could be ridiculous, boring, unsafe, or illegal with a challenge to groups to explain why the proposal was, actually, a good idea
  • Stop, start, continue (Hoon et al., 2015): What would you like [teaching staff] to stop doing? What suggestions do you have for things we should start doing? What is being done well that you would like to continue? Good practice/highlights?
  • Crazy 8’s (Knapp et al., 2016): generate 8 course design ideas in 8 minutes then vote on the best ones.

As the authors put it:

The activities revealed a set of values that were salient when imagining future curriculum designs: feeling stimulated, choice and autonomy, developing competence, feeling safe and secure, community and fairness. In addition, a deeper value layer was visible which reflected participants’ orientations to learning and education. We describe our process for eliciting values and the intertwined and iterative relationship between value elicitation and a co-created curriculum” (Galpin et al., 2022, p 553).

MQ Curriculum resources to support course design

Before you embark on a course design process, familiarise yourself with the overarching policies, frameworks, strategies and guidelines that inform course design at MQ. You’ll find key links and resources in the MQ Curriculum Manual wiki and the MQ Curriculum Resources website.

The MQ Curriculum Lifecycle Framework charts the journey of a course, course component (or unit) from initial idea through to its eventual discontinuation and outlines the processes for proposing a new course (or a change to an existing course) and then getting the new course (or course amendment) approved and delivered.

The Power BI Course Review Dashboard developed at MQ is useful for providing a profile of the current students in a specific course as well as their overall performance to help inform course design.

The MQ Course Mapping tool enables a whole of course visual mapping showing relationships between learning outcomes, assessments and standards to provide course insights, evidence of good course design and identification of any aspects that may require attention.

Some MQ examples of course design:

The Linguistics Department (FMHHS) set out to systematically address student wellbeing and engagement across all their courses. This TECHE article outlines their strategy.

From the Teche archives, this post shows how the Course Director, unit convenors and learning and teaching staff collaborated in a programmatic approach to designing a course.

Oh, and one last one….

Backward mapping assessments in a program level approach (from Campus Morning Mail)

Got a question on learning and teaching for us?

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Posted by L&T Development

The Learning and Teaching Staff Development team works with staff across the University to ensure they are supported to facilitate quality learning for students. This includes offering professional development, contributing to curriculum and assessment design, recognising and rewarding good practice, supporting peer review of teaching, and leading scholarly reflection. Email with questions or requests.

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