The teaching developers at Somaville University assist tertiary teachers to develop an awareness of the decisions to be made in the process of curriculum design/development and course design. These decisions involve true collaborative work within any programme and a number of factors to be considered and thought of within the constructive alignment framework and in relation to students, teachers and the teaching contexts.

At the core of course design lies

(a) writing precise learning outcomes that incorporate knowledge, skills and attitudes, and

(b) thinking how to align outcomes, teaching strategies and assessment tasks.

Outcomes-based approach

An outcomes-based approach to paper design places the students’ expected learning at the centre of the design process, but the outcomes need to be developed in conjunction with the other components of the paper in order to offer the students an integrated learning experience. They should not be seen and used as institutional obligations which are imposed on a sequence of classes that are based on topics.

Level. Learning outcomes are written at the threshold level, that is, they indicate the minimum level of learning that is hoped for in a particular area. The learning outcomes should be aligned with the assessment tasks and criteria. These help students to develop the required learning as well as evaluate the extent to which students have attained it. Likewise, the teaching and learning approaches should be designed to help promote the kinds of learning identified in the outcomes and supported through the assessment tasks.

Reflection. As with everything in our teaching, we need to reflect on and evaluate our design in relation to our broader teaching and learning beliefs, feedback, research and our estimation of the quality of the students’ learning. This reflection and evaluation informs the next cycle of paper design.