Whether you're designing your own course from scratch or planning a series of discussion sections, there's plenty to consider before you enter the classroom. And every ounce of preparation saves a pound of stressful scrambling part-way through the term. The best way to begin preparing for any class is to define what skills and knowledge your students should have by the end of the term. Consider who your students are and what environment, resources and activities will assist them in gaining these skills.
- Plan clear learning objectives for the course as a whole and for each class. Be sure to include these in your Syllabus
- Syllabi are contracts; they’re most effective when comprehensive and explicit: in addition to learning objectives you might include behavioral expectations (especially if your course includes controversial materials), grading policies, rubrics, plagiarism rules, disability resources. Most syllabi include a schedule of tests, readings and assignments.
- Calendar the entire term, paying particular attention to tests, due dates, and reading assignments; will the students be able to complete this work reasonably while taking other courses? Compare the calendar to your own schedule; will you be able to manage the grading and preparation without killing yourself?
- Prepare a student information sheet which will give you valuable info about your students at the front end of the course.
- Consider your environment; visit your classroom and decide how to use the space, arrangement of desks/chairs to encourage interactive, engaged learning. Learn to use the media: projector, Crestron control panel, DVD, etc.
- Prepare your reading materials as early as possible and then work with Copyright Clearance or the Duck Store on your course packet and textbook orders.
(NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)
Writing Learning Objectives ( PDF file)
A Teaching Resource Document from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Planning and Academic Support
Raoul A. Arreola, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee, Health Science Center
Writing Quality Learning Objectives
Park University's "Faculty Resources Quick Tips" section focused on writing learning objectives.
Writing learning outcomes for the Core Curriculum
Alan Jenkins (Oxford Brookes University, England) and Dave Unwin (Birkbeck College, London, England) outline "some 'how to do it' guidelines" for writing learning outcomes.
From the Teaching and Learning Laboratory at MIT this page provides an excellent overview of what learning objectives are and how to write learning objectives, as well as provides examples of objectives and measurable outcomes.
A collection of links to excellent information about syllabus construction appears in the TEP “Inclusive Teaching” website.
Recommended Course Syllabus Format
Syllabus recommendations from the University of Oregon Office of the Registrar
How do I build a "state of the art" syllabus?
TEP's "Teaching FAQ" page focused on creating a well structured, and formatted, course syllabus.
Creating a Student Diagnostic
TEP's page on creating a student diagnostics addressing any topic or issue which may be important to the student's success in your class.
Example of a student information sheet diagnostic:
An article written by University of Delaware student Alexandra Ramsden (1999).
Located on the ground floor of the Knight Library, can provide instruction in how to use the various media in your classrooms. Even if you are an expert in using various technologies involved in teaching, it is a good idea to visit the classroom before the first day and try out your laptop and other media you might be using.
The Copyright Clearance Office helps the University community to comply with copyright law, especially concerning class packets. They can assist in explaining the University's interpretation of the copyright laws and guidelines for fair use, obtain copyright clearances for you, or help you to do obtain the clearance yourself.
The Literary Duck accepts course book orders from faculty in person, via fax, by mail, by email or by using our convenient online adoptions .