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Course Design

Have you been assigned to teach a new course? Have you been thinking about redesigning your course? This workshop will present the very basics of course design by introducing you to the planning process known as “backwards design.” Backwards design will help you create course objectives, choose teaching methods, and select appropriate student assessment measures.


At the end of this session, you should be able to begin to:

  • Discuss the basic principles the “backward design” process.
  • State the importance of aligning course objectives, teaching techniques and student outcome measures.
  • Write course objectives using the ABCD approach.
  • Choose a teaching technique or classroom practice congruent with an objective and student and classroom characteristics.
  • Choose both a formative and summative assessment congruent with that teaching technique.


  • Fink, L. Dee (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  • Tewksbury, B., & McDonald, R. H. (2009). Cutting Edge Course Design Tutorial. Accessed February 15, 2010 from: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/coursedesign/tutorial/index.html.
  • Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

For more information, contact the CTE (8-0533 or cte@vcu.edu).

This workshop is not currently being offered.  The CTE will be happy to consult with individuals or small groups who wish to explore these tools further.  For more information, contact the CTE (828-4470 or cte@vcu.edu).

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Virginia Commonwealth University | Center for Teaching Excellence
Last modified: June 20, 2013
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