Course Design Resources

photo of empty chairs in an auditorium

Whether you are teaching fully online, face-to-face, or a combination of these scenarios, the following instructional resources support effective course design. With a focus on student engagement, these teaching materials lead you to infuse your unique courses with active learning, inclusive pedagogy, and well-structured module design. If you have questions about these resources or your course design, please schedule a consultation with the ILC.

▼   Student-Centered Syllabus

Student-Centered Syllabus

Take a look at how small adjustments can make an impact on your students. This syllabus overview provides a checklist of how to reframe your syllabus to be more focused on the learner.

University of South Alabama Syllabus Template

Following the guidelines from Academic Affairs, this syllabus template provides suggested language for the required sections and offers ideas on how to increase the transparency of your course guidelines. Reworking your learning objectives? Check out this short list of effective objectives and refer to this list of action verbs.

How to be Successful in this Course and Others!

You may already have a section in your syllabus or a page in your start here module that offers tips and tricks for being successful in your course. For instance, you may share your expectations of the students:

  • How often should they log into Canvas?

  • What does an excellent discussion post look like?

  • How should they demonstrate respectful dialogue?

Depending on your course content, this section will help clarify your expectations to promote student success. 

Consider including a page in your Start Here module to help students access support services, such as:

Academic, Physical, and Emotional Well-Being Support:

▼   Equitable Instructional Strategies

Thinking Inclusively

An inclusive mindset refers to a way of thinking that values the opinions, experiences, and ideas of others. When we bring an inclusive mindset into our courses, we are working towards creating a more equitable and collaborative learning environment, which is fundamental to inclusive teaching.

Equitable Instructional Strategies

Explore Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) principles for good practice in undergraduate education and commit to at least two ways you will achieve these principles by selecting from the suggestions in the document or by offering your own ideas. The list in this document is not exhaustive.

There are many ways we can be intentional about offering multiple methods for students to engage with the content and cultivate our learner's sense of belonging. Check out these tips on setting up your content to maximize student engagement.

Instructional Strategies Planner

This planner invites you to strategize the types of engagement and feedback you will provide for your students. This planner allows you to outline your formative and summative assessment techniques and ensure that these activities are aligned with your learning objectives. Curious about what this might look like? Check out this completed planner.

Consistent Module Design

Remove the guesswork from your Canvas course and implement a consistent module design. Available to import from Canvas Commons, a variety of module templates will help you structure your Canvas site to make the most of your synchronous and asynchronous interactions. In Canvas Commons, search for #usailc and select a template to import. Completion of Canvas Fundamentals is a prerequisite for accessing Canvas Commons.

▼   Gathering Student Feedback

Gathering Student Feedback

Bringing student voices into the classroom creates a sense of belonging for all students which leads to a high trust and low stress environment in which learning can occur. Student experience feedback is one way we can make our courses more learner-centered and inclusive.

We recommend this article on gathering feedback during remote learning.

Here are few other ways that you can collect student feedback:

Pre-Course Survey

Find out what your students already know about the subject, what they want to know about the subject, how they study, their career and academic goals, or personal interests. Your pre-course survey can reveal who your students are and why they are in your course to help build a relationship before the class even starts.

This survey can be done via a quiz in Canvas with multiple choice or open-ended questions.

Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF)

SGIF is a formative mid-course check-in process for gathering information from students on their learning experience. The process is designed to foster communication and dialogue between students and instructors so that learning objectives and outcomes can be met successfully. In small groups, students respond to three questions:

  • What do you like about this course?
  • What suggestions do you have that could help your learning?
  • What other comments do you have about the learning environment?

Periodic Check-Ins (e.g., Post-Assessment, Post-Module)

Find out what your students thought about the learning activities and content for that module by asking open-ended or targeted questions (e.g., What benefited your learning experience during module 1? vs. Which module 1 activities helped you succeed on this exam?)

  • Stop-Start-Continue - This brief questionnaire asks students to share what they would like you to stop doing, start doing, or continue doing to benefit their learning experience in this class.
  • Critical Incident Questionnaire - Stephen Brookfield implements this questionnaire each week to better understand how the class is going through the students' eyes.


  Past Instructional Webinars