Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

2-Minute Mentor: Course Design

Designing courses

  • What’s the best place to start when I’m developing a course?
  • How do I connect course goals with assignments?
  • How do I design a roadmap for learning?

Click below to watch CTE’s 2-Minute Mentor video on this topic:

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Effective Course Design video transcript (doc)

Backward design

Effective course design requires careful alignment of course goals, assessment, and instructional activities. It may be tempting to design a course by first asking, “What content do I need to cover?” A more effective alternative: following the three-step backward design process, as described by Wiggins and McTighe (1998):



What should students know, understand, and be able to do?

Identify 3–5 key learning goals.


How will we know if students have achieved the desired results?

Identify assignments that will demonstrate learning (papers, exams, projects, etc.).

Plan learning
and instruction

What needs to be taught or coached?

Identify activities (in and out of class) that will help students reach course goals.


Course design resources

The following links provide more information about course design:

Additional materials are available in CTE’s Essential Guide to Teaching.

These portfolios in the CTE Gallery show examples of effective course design:

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Support for Fall Flex Teaching!

CTE has created a website for helping faculty create flexible courses that can shift between in-person and online. Visit the Flex Teaching site.