Instructional Development Manual



1. How a Course Fits Into the Curriculum

2. How a Course Becomes Part of the Curriculum

  1. Process of Design
  2. Application for a New Course
  3. Process of Approval

3. How to Design a New Course

  1. Instructional Design Process: 3 Perspectives
  2. Instructional Design Steps
  3. How to Develop a Clear Goal Statement
  4. How to Write Competency Statements
  5. How to State Measurements for Competencies

4. How to Develop a Course Syllabus

  1. Requirements Stated in ACU Faculty Handbook
  2. SACS must Statements
  3. Syllabus Checklist

5. Teaching

  1. Teaching Methods
  2. Assessing Teaching Effectiveness

Purpose of Instructional Development Manual

This manual provides:

  • guidelines for the systematic design of instruction (developing new courses or revising existing courses);
  • guidelines for preparing new course proposals and syllabi; and
  • instructional design resources and references.
  • Suggestions, Revisions, Comments
  • This manual is a dynamic tool, not a static document.
  • Faculty input is welcome.

We will identify problems and areas for revision as we implement the tools in this manual and refine our institutional processes related to instructional development.

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How a Course Fits Into the Curriculum  

Each Course
Each course in the curriculum is designed to help students develop a set of competencies (or develop higher levels of specified competencies), composing an important component in a student's education and preparation for Christian leadership and service.

Each Program
Each program of study in the university is designed to develop a complete set of competencies, composing the major component in a student's education and preparation for Christian leadership and service in a given field.

New Course
A new course is developed when an academic unit perceives the need to add new competencies to the existing set of competencies, offering students an updated or upgraded education.

Instructional Objectives (course competencies)
Instructional objectives state the competencies students will acquire by completing a given course. Instructional objectives for all the courses in a program compose the set of competencies a student needs to master to function effectively in life and perform successfully in the given field.

How Curricular Goals Fit Into the Lifelong Picture
(illustration on next page)
The puzzle on the following page illustrates how the competencies developed in a single course tie into other courses in a program of study. The goals of a program tie into the goals of the department. Goals of the department tie into goals for the college and goals for the university.

By the time a student takes all required courses in the university core, the degree core, and the major, the student should have mastered all competencies needed to function effectively in life and perform successfully in a career in the related field, exhibiting Christian values through leadership and service.

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How a Course Becomes Part of the Curriculum  

Process of Design and Development 

A course is developed by an individual faculty member (or team of faculty) in collaboration with department chair/s in the unit or units related to the course content. The course developer consults the following offices and obtains appropriate supporting documents related to these consultations (Application for a New Course items II-V) prior to initiating the formal approval process:

  1. department chair input;
  2. college dean and/or director of curriculum and advising concerning curriculum implications, justification and need for the course, content overlap, expenses, and resources &emdash; needed and available (other than library resources);
  3. director of instructional development early in the course design process concerning course goal, competencies, measurements, teaching and grading strategies, and syllabus construction; and
  4. librarian concerning library holdings to support the course.

 Application Form and Preliminary Approval

  1. Course developer prepares formal proposal on an "Application for a New Course" (available on the web and from your college dean) and attaches a complete syllabus or course outline.
  2. Course developer consults provost's office about assigning the course number.
  3. Course developer submits application (with syllabus) to department chair for preliminary approval. (application form item V)
  4. Department chair submits application (with syllabus) to college dean for preliminary approval. (application form item V)

 Process of Approval

  1. Course developer and/or chair submits the application to the college academic council [unless the course is part of a new or extensively revised program; in which case, the entire program proposal (including course applications) must be reviewed by the University Budget Committee (application form item VI) prior to action by any academic council.]
  2. Dean submits an approved undergraduate level proposal to University Academic Council; course developer attends UAC meeting in which the course is discussed and acted upon.
  3. Dean submits an approved graduate level proposal to Graduate Council; course developer attends Graduate Council meeting in which the course is discussed and acted upon.

If the course is not taught within five years, it will be deleted from the course inventory. Reactivation will necessitate repeating this process, obtaining UAC or GC approval.

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How to Design a New Course (Instructional Design)  

Overview from Three Perspectives  

During the design and development of a course, you will structure your thinking from (at least) three perspectives:

  1. I, the teacher - first person perspective;
  2. you, the student - second person perspective;
  3. the content - third person perspective (loosely considering the content as third person).

First Person- thinking in terms of what I, the teacher, need to accomplish in the course.

Second Person- thinking in terms of what the students need to do/learn in the course.

Third Person - thinking in terms of the content to be included in the course.

Learner-centered Thinking: Second Person Perspective

Focus on the learner and structure your thinking in second person ("as a result of this course, you will be able to ...") when you write the instructional goal and competency statements.

Distinguish between learning activities and competencies. You will design and develop learning activities to engage students in a learning process that should result in their acquiring the targeted competencies for the course. On the Application for a New Course, you will list the competencies, not the learning activities.

The next few pages present steps for designing a new course. Labels in the left margins (pages 10-13) denote sections of the Application for a New Course form that relate to the design steps.

 Instructional Design Steps  

  1. Where are we now compared to where we need to be?
    learning needs, audience profile
  2. Where are we going? WHAT will we teach?
    goal, competencies, general content,
    methods of measuring competencies
  3. How will we get there? HOW will teaching/learning occur?
    teaching strategies, learning activities,
    tests and grading, tools and materials,
    media selection
  4. How will we know when we've arrived? How will we assess teaching/learning?
    feedback strategies, instruments

Use student and peer feedback to revise instruction; reiterate the design process.

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Instructional Design Step 1: Where are we now compared to where we need to be?

Codes in left margin refer to related section/s of the Application for a New Course. Boxes embedded within the text refer to design tools in this manual.

  1. Describe the learning our students need, but are not getting (the gap between    what they should know/be able to do, and what they currently know/are able to do). Look at the big picture of the curriculum, all components of the program/degree plan, and how those components fit together and relate to each other.
  2. Show how you have come to the conclusion that this instruction is needed. Clearly represent the need. Include needs assessment based on visiting committee recommendations.
    • market analysis
    • surveys
    • new policies from the government or accrediting bodies
    • exit exam scores or standardized test scores
    • other evidence
  3. Describe the difference between students graduating now without the course/skills and students graduating in the future having taken the course and acquired the skills.
  4. Examine current curriculum university-wide to determine how needs might be met without developing a new course. Look for other methods for students to acquire the needed learning/skills, even outside the classroom.

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Instructional Design Step 2: Where are we going? WHAT will we teach?

Codes in left margin refer to related section/s of the Application for a New Course. Boxes embedded within the text refer to design tools in this manual.

  1. State the overall learning goal. Express clearly what the learner should be able to do as a result of the instruction.
  2. Describe prerequisite skills required for the course &emdash; skills that enable students to perform the competencies you plan to teach. Describe skills you will not teach, but will expect students to exhibit during the course. Examples: proficient in ___ (fill in the blank), adept in ___, performing ___ skill at ___ level. Include levels of research, analysis, organization of ideas, levels of problem solving, articulation, writing, reading, technology, artistry, concept/content acquisition, etc. Will you require prerequisite courses that develop these prerequisites?
  3. Describe the characteristics of students who will take the course. Examples: age, upper/lower level classification, academic standing, having strong background in ___, planning to pursue careers in __, specializing in __, planning to pursue graduate study in __. State relevant characteristics in catalog description and course syllabus.
  4. State 4 to 6 competencies. Incorporate higher order learning (application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation or problem solving).
  5. Label levels of learning required to meet each competency (using a taxonomy like Bloom's). Require higher order learning.
  6. Determine the methods you will use (tests, papers, etc.) to measure levels of competency for each competency statement.
  7. Outline the basic content you need to cover for students to gain the competencies. This step sets you up for selection of text and other media to use in the course.
  8. Consider the learning environment. Specify type/size of classroom, furnishings, laboratory, equipment, etc.

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Instructional Design Step 3: How will we get there? HOW will teaching/learning occur?

Codes in left margin refer to related section/s of the Application for a New Course.Boxes embedded within the text refer to design tools in this manual. 

  1. Describe the teaching methods you plan to use. Select teaching strategies that are appropriate and effective in helping students learn and perform skills specified in your competencies (Step 2).
  2. Incorporate active learning strategies. Teach to all learning styles.
  3. Describe guided learning activities students will be involved in. Select learning activities and assignments that are appropriate and effective in helping students acquire each competency specified for the course. This step plays a key part in determining library resources and other resources available or needed.
  4. Select instructional materials (texts, journals, online resources, video, etc.).
  5. Sequence and segment course content into chunks, balancing the student workload appropriately for each class session.
  6. Select appropriate media for delivery of each segment of instruction.
  7. Provide for frequent and prompt feedback to students. They need to know your assessment of their progress toward the competencies.
  8. Look at your methods of measuring competency (Step 2). Develop test items and determine your criteria for measuring each competency. Specify the criteria for grading all work that is to be evaluated for a grade: papers, projects, presentations, recitals, essays, exams, etc.
  9. Determine the weight of each graded item and how you will assign grades for the course.
  10. Prepare the course syllabus.

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Instructional Design Step 4: How will we know when we've arrived? How will we assess teaching/learning?

  1.  How will you determine whether the instruction is filling the gap between what students need to be able to do and what they were able to do without the instruction?
  2. How will you determine validity and reliability of your methods of measuring competency?
  3. Do course grading procedures appropriately reflect balance and emphasis among competencies?
  4. What classroom assessment measures will you employ to assess teaching effectiveness? List assessment methods you plan to incorporate. Identify or develop questionnaires or other instruments. Revise instruction and/or teaching methods according to feedback.
How to Develop a Clear Goal Statement for a Course  

The learning goal for a course is the overarching statement of what students will achieve (be able to do) as a result of the course.

Writing a clear instructional goal

  1. Consider the body of knowledge and skills that need to be taught in the course.
  2. Then ask yourself what students will get out of the course. What will they be able to do at the end of the course that they cannot do without taking the course?
  3. Ask what students will do to demonstrate that they've reached the goal.
  4. Stay focused on the learner. Think in second person as if you were communicating directly to your students.
  5. State the goal; use performance terms that represent successful achievement of the goal.
  6. Check for concreteness. Phrases like "develop appreciation" and "become aware," refer to the internal state of the learner and need to be replaced with more concrete verbs indicating demonstrable achievement.

Distinguish types of goals

You will, no doubt, construct your teacher goal (first person perspective) stating what you want to accomplish in teaching the course.

You will also construct a content goal overviewing the content you plan to cover in the course.

Distinguish these from the learning goal stating what students will be able to do as a result of the course.

Overarching goals applicable to every course (virtually):

  • acquisition of a relevant body of knowledge/information
  • how to think/apply this knowledge
  • how to continue learning, staying up-to-date in the field

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How to Write Competency Statements  

Clear competency statements (performance objectives) express what students will be able to do as a result of the course.

Ask yourself:

What will students be able to do (intellectual, affective, or psycho-motor skills) as a result of my course? (Resources and guidelines regarding various domains of learning are available through the director of instructional development.)

Guidelines for clear competencies (performance objectives):

  1. Use specific action verbs to express the performance expected.
  2. Look at end results of readings, guided learning activities, and assignments in the course. Create statements (usually 4-6) that help students visualize skills/performance they will master.
  3. Avoid listing the activities through which you will guide students.
  4. Avoid listing the material/content the teacher will cover.

Philosophy:Competencies (performance objectives) stated on a new course application may represent only minimum, quantifiable objectives every student should achieve in the course. You will frequently set additional objectives that may be more challenging or even immeasurable.

Tips on competencies for new course applications:

  1. Avoid dated terminology (titles of software, books, periodicals, etc.). Competencies should pass the test of relevance for many years. State specific dated information in the syllabus.
  2. Avoid vague verbs like understand, appreciate, learn, etc. Refer to list of verbs in the instructional design manual.
  3. Avoid competencies that require only lower order thinking skills. Refer to Bloom's Taxonomy or other learning taxonomies.
  4. At grad level, require higher order thinking distinctly more advanced than undergrad level competencies.
  5. Make sure you show congruence among competencies, planned learning activities, and measures of evaluating student performance.
  6. Repeat the same competencies in the course syllabus for students.
  7. Use complete sentences that communicate clearly to academic council members outside your discipline.

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How to State Measurements for Competencies  

Clear measurements express how you will quantify the level of competency your students reach (for competencies stated in the syllabus).

Ask yourself:

How will students show me they've gained these skills/competencies? How will I grade student achievement of these skills/competencies?

Guidelines for stating measurements:

  1. State the method or conditions you will use to measure each competency (type of test, paper, project, case study, presentation).
  2. State the criteria or standards you will use to assign a grade (standards established in class or in a text or by a professional body; criteria set forth in a handout or assignment or syllabus).
  3. Distinguish "how you will guide student learning" (instructional strategy) from "how you will measure competency."
  4. Distinguish "method of measuring competency" from "criteria and standards you will use to grade competency levels."
  5. Associate measurements with competencies.

Philosophy:The learning process continues through the step of evaluating student learning and should not be viewed as an opportunity to trick students. Means of measuring learning should flow from expectations you have clearly communicated to your students.

Tips on measurements for new course applications:

  1. Match each competency with a means for measurement. One measurement instrument or graded assignment may be used to measure more than one competency. Likewise, one competency may be measured by more than one method of measurement.
  2. Match higher order competencies with methods appropriate for measuring higher order skills. Basic comprehension and application may be measured appropriately by exams; but analysis, synthesis, and evaluation may require papers, case studies, projects, etc.
  3. Criteria for grading papers, projects, etc., do not have to be included in the new course application, but should be included in the syllabus. In the syllabus, such criteria should clarify teacher expectations. They show academic council members and students how student work will be graded.

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How to Develop a Course Syllabus  

A syllabus is a written agreement between the teacher and the students.

 Syllabus requirements stated in the ACU Faculty Handbook (page 3.8):  

"Each teacher is required to publish and distribute a new class syllabus for every class by the end of the first full week of each long term (second day of each short term), listing:

  • catalog name and number of course
  • meeting time, place, and date (semester and year)
  • teacher's office hours and extension
  • attendance policy
  • course requirements
  • examination requirements
  • grading policy
  • statement of goals, objectives, course content

Submit one copy of each course syllabus to the department chair's office."

 SACS* must statements from Criteria for Accreditation, 1998:  

Section 4.2.4 Undergraduate Instruction

"Instructional techniques and policies must be in accord with the purpose of the institution and be appropriate to the specific goals of an individual course. Instruction must be evaluated regularly and the results used to ensure quality instruction.

Students must be provided written information about the goals and requirements of each course, the nature of the course content, and the methods of evaluation to be employed. Methods of instruction must be appropriate to the goals of each course and the capabilities of the students. Experimentation with methods to improve instruction must be adequately supported and critically evaluated.

An institution must use a variety of means to evaluate student performance. The evaluation must reflect concern for quality and properly discern levels of student performance. An institution must publish its grading policies and its grading practices must be consistent with policy."

* SACS - Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (regional accrediting body)

Sample Syllabi:

Samples of model syllabi from various departments are available upon request through the office of instructional design.

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 Syllabus Checklist

A syllabus checklist is included in the Application for a New Course or by linking to ACU Syllabus Checklist.

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Explanation of Syllabus Components  

Basic course and instructor information:
The basic information about the institution, course, instructor, and semester is particularly relevant when students transfer and present a syllabus for course credit equivalency. 

Prerequisites - list of specific courses, skills, GPA, etc., required for success in the course.

Course description - one or two paragraphs or an outline overview of course content and philosophy (or duplicate the catalog description).

Format - indication of the way class sessions will be conducted, types of activities (i.e. lecture, lab, research, discussion, groups, case studies, electronic media, etc.).

Text/s, readings, tools - full bibliographic info for texts (state whether required or optional); list of other tools and equipment, electronic resources, reading packets, etc., and where students obtain them or gain access to them.

Christian perspectives - indication of how Christian perspectives will be integrated into the course (teaching philosophy about integration, competencies related to Christian perspective, course units focused on Christian perspectives or ethics, etc.).

Overall outcome - the overall goal or outcome students will achieve by the end of the course. See guidelines for writing a course goal.

Competencies - performance expectations related to student learning. Use specific verbs that communicate observable, measurable performance or outcomes. See guidelines for developing competency statements.

Evaluation methods - list of projects, papers, major assignments that will be graded to determine student competency for all course competencies. See guidelines for measuring competency.

Grading criteria - teacher's criteria and requirements for major projects and term papers (style, format specifics, length, due date, other criteria), and special grading practices (late work policy, make-up, extra credit). Grade composition - list of all grade components, weight of each, scale for A, B, etc.

Course policies - attendance and policies - attendance policy (tardies, absences, illness, excused and unexcused), academic dishonesty policy (cheating and plagiarism), drop/withdrawal policy, etc.

Course calendar - for each week or each class meeting, - list of activities and content to be covered, assignments, due dates for all graded items, exam dates. Allow for flexibility and revisions of schedule based on progress and needs of the class.

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Teaching Methods  

Lecture - communicating content/expertise (dispensing information) through voice, gesture, movement, facial expression, and eye contact. Student is viewed as a passive receiver. (Gray)

Discussion - actively involving students in learning by asking questions that provoke thinking and verbal response. (Gray)

Cooperative Learning - small group structure emphasizing learning from and with others; academic and social outcomes; productive, positive interdependence; individual accountability for grades. (Karre)

Collaborative Learning - heterogeneous groups in an interdisciplinary context; emphasis on community; collectively accountable; shared resources and shared rewards. (Brody; Karre)

Learning Teams - teacher is seen as manager of overall instructional process; students are seen as empowered to take responsibility for their learning; course and activities are designed to give students opportunity and incentive to accept responsibility for learning. (Michaelsen)

Experiential Learning - learning by doing; including simulated experiences and real world experiences outside the classroom. (Silberman) Experiential learning strategies include:

  • role playing
  • case studies
  • field work
  • internships
  • simulations
  • demonstrations
  • laboratory (not computer based)

Conferencing - discussion involving teacher and students on an equal plane in consultation on a topic.

Programmed Instruction (computer based or computer assisted) - instruction using computers to deliver part or all of the instruction.

Distance Learning - instruction conducted by a teacher at a distant sight from the students.

Team Teaching - teaching involving the collaborative efforts of two or more teachers.

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Active Learning  

"When learning is active, students do most of the work. They use their brains... studying ideas, solving problems, and applying what they learn."
Mel Silberman

A Definition of Active Learning

Active learning engages students in activities involving application of course content. Students are required to perform and participate actively; not just listen. Implementation of active learning strategies leads to greater retention and transfer of knowledge. Students develop their own knowledge structures through discussion (talking and listening), reading and writing, reflecting and acting upon stimulus material.

Active Learning and Passive Learning Contrasted

Active learning may be contrasted with passive learning as:

  • Less emphasis on information dispensing.
  • More emphasis on active engagement with the stimulus material.
  • Less emphasis on memorization.
  • More emphasis on higher order thinking.
  • Less emphasis on knowledge alone.
  • More emphasis on what students can do with the knowledge.
  • Less emphasis on passive acceptance of a prescribed value system.
  • More emphasis on discovering and developing own values.

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Assessing Teaching Effectiveness  

Feedback is the key to assessing teaching effectiveness and identifying areas that need to be revised. Revision may be needed in any component of the instructional system (teacher, instructional materials, learning environment).

Feedback Strategies

Examples of systematic feedback strategies include:

  1. video tape; self-review - video tape several sessions of your class and review the tapes yourself.
  2. video tape; peer review - video tape several sessions of your class and review them with a colleague, who gives feedback.
  3. peer review - invite a colleague to observe your class during several sessions and give feedback only on areas you specify.
  4. classroom assessment techniques (CAT - see Angelo and Cross) - implement techniques appropriate to a particular class, type of feedback desired, and purpose for the feedback.
  5. mid-semester student survey/questionnaire (teacher designed and generated) - design and administer a written survey or questionnaire to collect specific, relevant feedback from students.
  6. written student evaluations - the most common method of feedback; evaluation forms developed by the college and administered in each class at the end of each semester.
  7. class interviews - invite a colleague to interview your class as a whole or in groups, using questions you develop. (Dismiss yourself for the interview process.)
  8. reflection and self-evaluation - use a self-evaluation form like the one developed by the University of Illinois-Urbana. (See How Am I Teaching?)

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Learning Studio: Year One
The Learning Studio opened its doors to the campus last March. Here is a look at some of the stories from year one.