There are three levels of curriculum development. The first level is program, next is the course level and then the unit and/or lesson level. No matter where you start developing your curriculum a great approach is to use the backward design. Backwards design is about three things:
- Identifying the results,
- Determining acceptable evidence and
- Planning the learning experiences.
1. Identify Results
Establish course learning outcomes or goals. Jot down the following:
- What are the big ideas or core competencies students should be able to understand behind your course?
- What should students be able to do as a result of this course? What concepts, frameworks, and basic principles should students understand as a result of the course?
- What does your course need to cover in order to prepare students for other courses?
Write down each learning goal/objective based on what the Learner needs to Learn -Understand and DO (not what you are going to teach).
The following are examples of learning objectives:
Good Example: Students will be able to:
Bad Example: I will lecture on Genetic diversity
For more examples see Examples of Effective Learning Objectives.
2. Determine Acceptable Evidence
Establish how you will assess student learning and achievement.
- For each goal/objective what information will you gather to determine how well each student achieved the outcomes?
- What types of assessments will you use based on what fits for each goal/objective? Is it a multiple choice test, essays, journal entries, research proposal, poster, answers to a applied learning activity, performance in the field, presentation, etc.
- What combination of formative assessments will you use to assist student learning throughout the course?
3. Plan the Experience
- Establish the specific learning activities for each unit or class. What will you have students do that directly connects to each goal/objective?
- Choose learner-centered strategies. For some examples see Learner Centered Teaching Techniques
4. Determine the sequence of the lessons/activities and field experiences over a semester.
5. Manage the Process
- What support do you have for the course? Support are resources needed to effectively reach your course goals/objectives. What instructional practices will need to be changed based on the level of support you have?
- Do you have graduate student assistance, secretarial support, other professors?
- What funds do you have for field experiences, lab equipment, reagents, expendibles?
- What is your internet access like?
- Review your grading practices. What are the policies of your University and Department? How can your grading practicies help improve student learning?
- Think about contingency plans- what happens if:
- Evaluate course and instructor- during and after the course.