Course Design and Assessment

Course Design and Assessment

The Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (CTLS) is pleased to offer a varied collection of resources, information and services to support Samford University's faculty, staff and administrators' desire to be "Leaders in Learning." The following resources on course syllabus development, classroom assessment, and online course development are offered to facilitate faculty's continuous improvement of their teaching skills and address shared instructional issues or concerns.

Course design and assessment involves strategies for creating effective teaching and learning. Principles such as those outlined by Chickering and Gamson for undergraduate education (see below) can provide the conceptual framework in which you utilize the strategies. A number of publications are located in the CTLS for you to peruse and learn more about the course design and assessment process.

Guiding Principles

Chickering and Gamson's Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education highlights the key elements for effective student learning and as such instructional design (1987). These practices are described below.

1. Good Practice encourages student-faculty contact.

Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement. Faculty concern helps students get through rough times and keep on working. Knowing a few faculty members well enhances students' intellectual commitment and encourages them to think about their own values and future plans. Knowing more about our Samford University students can facilitate this contact. Demographic information on Samford students can be found on the Institutional Research website here.

2. Good practice encourages cooperation among students.

Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement in learning. Sharing one's own ideas and responding to others' reactions improves thinking and deepens understanding.

3. Good practice encourages active learning.

Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.

4. Good practice gives prompt feedback.

Knowing what you know and don't know focuses learning. Students need appropriate feedback on performance to benefit from courses. In getting started, students need help in assessing existing knowledge and competence. In classes, students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive suggestions for improvement. At various points during college, and at the end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how to assess themselves.

5. Good practice emphasizes time on task.

Time plus energy equals learning. There is no substitute for time on task. Learning to use one's time well is critical for students and professionals alike. Students need help in learning effective time management. Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning for students and effective teaching for faculty. How an institution defines time expectations for students, faculty, administrators, and other professional staff can establish the basis for high performance for all.

6. Good practice communicates high expectations.

Expect more and you will get it. High expectations and important for everyone--for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations of themselves and make extra efforts.

7. Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

There are many roads to learning. People bring different talents and styles of learning to college. Brilliant students in the seminar room may be all thumbs in the lab or art studio. Students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory. Students need the opportunity to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to learning in ways that do not come so easily.

©2009 Samford University - Maintained by the CTLS