Refine your course

Course Purpose

Identifies the overall goals or aims of the course, as collectively understood by the faculty members teaching the course

  • Clarifies the placement or “context” of the course within one or several degree program(s), and/or University programs (e.g., fulfilling Liberal Studies requirements or Diversity requirements, etc.)
  • What is studied in the course
  • How it is studied
  • Why it is studied

Course Intended Student Learning Outcomes

Defines the scope (breadth and depth) of what students will “know and be able to do” upon completion of the course

  • Are explicit
  • Are learning-centered (focus on what students learn rather than on what faculty teach)
  • Align with the course purpose(s)
  • Are appropriate to the level of the course (300-level courses would be more rigorous and comprehensive than 100-level courses, etc.)

Coherent Course Design

The course’s “lessons,” "modules," and/or experiences are coherently sequenced and structured so that both students and faculty can articulate the rationale behind the course’s structure

  • Learning experiences, materials and instruction are designed to achieve the purpose and learning outcomes of the course
  • A written description of how the sequence and structure of experiences, materials and instruction relate to students’ achievement of the intended learning outcomes

Systematic Assessment of Intended Student Learning Outcomes

Well-designed and well-aligned assessments (assignments) give instructors and students clear indications of learning progress.

Use of Assessment Findings for Continual Improvement of Student Learning

Assessment findings are used evaluate the effectiveness of course design and teaching strategies in an on-going, systematic fashion

  • Course faculty analyze and evaluate the importance of findings about student learning and plan and implement changes in courses to improve student learning
  • Students use assignments (assessments) to improve their learning throughout the course

For consultation or assistance with course design, please contact:

- Larry Gallagher, Director of Faculty Professional Development (lawrence.gallagher at, 523-7121).

- John Doherty, Instructional Designer (john.doherty at

- Walter (Wally) Nolan, Instructional Designer (walter.nolan at, 523-8554).