Basic Steps of Course Development

The following information provides you with an overview of the major steps that are a part of the Course Development Process and a guide to some of the resources on this site:

Step 1: Ask and answer: “What do I want my students to learn?”

This step helps set the parameters for the development of the course because it specifies what students should specifically be able to do as the result of their taking this course. It is often best to use “action verbs” to state what you want students to learn because they are based on observable actions or products. See the material on Writing Measurable Coures Objectives in the Course Design section of our Teaching Guides for more information.

Step 2: Identify the best teaching approaches for the type of learning you want.

This step involves a survey of alternative teaching strategies for helping students meet the goals of the course through the activities that you provide. A starting point for getting some ideas for teaching approaches can be found here in our Teaching Guides.

Step 3. Plan major assignments and exams that will teach and test the learning that you want.

The section of this site on Assessment and Feedback includes information on different types of assignments you might assign students and strategies for providing good feedback.

Step 4. Consider times and spaces for learning.

Teaching and especially learning can take place in many different places and at different times of the day/week, and it is useful to try to vary where and when students experience learning and to build that idea into course development. Learning can occur within the classroom, in the community, in a science lab or clinical setting, in the library, in front of a computer at home or on campus, alone or in an actual or virtual group.

Step 5. What technology and other tools should I consider using to help students learn?

There are many tools available out there to assist in the enhancement of teaching and learning and the list grows longer each year. A challenge is in finding ways to refine the use of the ones available so they work for your class and your students, as well as to take advantage of newer ones as they come available. Fairly standard technologies include chalkboards/whiteboards, projectors, bulletin boards, slides, films and video. Add to these the thousands of resources and tools available through the internet. CTL offers frequent training and workshops on the technology available for teaching here at UNC Charlotte. Check out the Calendar of Events for more details.

Step 6. Sequence the learning

Students often need to know a set of content before they can learn other types of content, or they have to master certain tasks or skills before they can move onto more complicated learning experiences. This developmental approach to teaching and learning suggests that a key task is to make certain that students encounter learning activities in a logical progression from simple to more complex. The material on writing learning objectives, particularly module/unit level objectives, included in the course design section of tthis site is one way to examine developmental processes.

Step 7. Reflect on and assess what you have done

A course is a continuous process (rather than a product) that leads to an enhancement of teaching and learning experiences, if time and effort is given to reflecting on and assessing the results of that process. The goal is to examine information that indicates the extent to which the teaching and learning practices led to the learning outcomes desired by the teacher (and perhaps the student) and why they “worked” or “did not work”. This last step involves consideration of a whole range of issues, including assumptions about teaching and learning, as well as issues related to the results of the decisions made at each of the previous steps. See the section on assessment and feedback for more information.

Additional Resources: 

Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction (Northern Illinois University)
This instructional design framwork shows nine steps to systematically prepare and deliver lessons and activities.