Six Principles of Course Design at Schulich

At Schulich, course design is guided by six foundational principles that inform all aspects of a course from the selection of impactful activities to the authentic assessment of learning.

We aim to design courses that recognize and celebrate the diversity of experiences and backgrounds of our students and instructors. Clearly articulated learning outcomes serve as the framework of our courses, around which all activities and assessments are designed. Our students actively participate in experiential learning opportunities and develop real-world problem-solving skills, as they make lasting connections with industry leaders. They are also encouraged to reflect on their learning to develop an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and to develop strategies to continuously improve. Instructors do the same; they continuously build upon student feedback from each course iteration to design better, more effective learning experiences.

Well-designed lessons and activities adapt examples and contexts to draw on the wealth of experiences, cultures and abilities of students, creating the engagement that leads to learning.

Courses that adhere to the principles of Universal Design in Learning ensure equal access to the learning environment and success for the widest possible audience.

Learning outcomes serve as the foundation for key decisions made in the course: how to divide the finite amount of valuable class time, which activities and assessments to employ and how student performance is evaluated

Students learn best through progressively challenging opportunities for the practice of each learning outcome, followed by timely feedback, before achievement is assessed.

Creating authentic opportunities for the practice of learning outcomes requires the use of both traditional (readings, lectures) and active (simulations, labs, debates, cooperative and experiential) learning activities.

Technology can facilitate instructors’ efforts to promote active engagement by providing more opportunities for practice, collaboration and participation than can be achieved in the classroom.

Deep learning occurs when students develop rich and detailed mental models of course concepts that are well-connected to their pre-existing knowledge and skills.

Unlike superficial learning that allows only the recitation of isolated facts, deep learning results in students being able to creatively and flexibly apply course concepts in varied contexts.

The structure and delivery of the course not only provide students with content and skills relevant to the particular discipline, but also introduce and model transferrable metacognitive skills that allow students to self-assess their own learningreceive and apply feedback and employ effective strategies for learning.

Each time a course is delivered a wealth of information is generated that may provide insights for improvement.

These data may allow us to identify and address gaps between student performance and course learning outcomesiteratively improve activities and assessments, or provide better-tailored, more effective feedback.

Video: Dean Detlev Zwick (former Associate Dean Academic) reviews the six principles of course design at Schulich.