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Course design

At the UW, it’s likely that you will teach in a variety of contexts. You might teach large classes or small classes. Perhaps you have an interest in teaching a hybrid or online course. Good teaching is the result of equal parts preparation and responsiveness. The links below will help guide you in your preparation, offering tips and strategies for how to design your course and write your syllabus, as well as a range of other useful information to help you get started.

Preparing to teach

Getting started on your course

An effective course design begins with understanding your students; deciding what you want them to learn; determining how you will measure student learning; and planning activities, assignments and materials that support student learning. The syllabus provides the instructor and students with a common reference point that sets the stage for learning throughout the course. Although courses may vary in size, subject matter or level, a systematic process will help you plan and structure your course and syllabus to effectively reach desired instructional goals.
Learn more about getting started on your course.

Creating your syllabus

The syllabus provides the instructor and students with a common reference point that sets the stage for learning throughout the course. The form and content of a syllabus vary widely; however, common components communicate to your students an accurate description of the course including the topics that will be covered; assignments and assessments students will be responsible for as well as a clear source for policies and expectations.
Learn more about creating your syllabus.

Flipping the classroom

Flipping the classroom (also known as “inverting” a classroom) is a “pedagogy-first” approach to teaching in which course materials are introduced outside of class, and in-class time is re-purposed for inquiry, application, and assessment in order to better meet the needs of individual learners. There are numerous ways to flip your class. This page includes resources on how to get started and strategies and examples to help you determine what kind of flip is best for your courses.
Learn more about flipping the classroom.

Large enrollment courses

Large classes (100+ students) should not be limited exclusively to lecture-based teaching. In a large class, participation can be designed to get students actively solving problems, interacting with one another and the instructor, and processing course material. We provide best practices and tips for preparing, teaching, and evaluating large lecture courses.
Learn more about large enrollment courses.

Designing and refining hybrid and online courses

Developed by the UW Digital Learning Alliance, this rubric is designed to help instructors in the course development process and as a tool instructors can use to guide their evaluation of their own or a colleague’s hybrid or online teaching. The rubric reflects practices that have been shown to increase learner engagement and success in online learning environments.
Learn more about hybrid and online courses.

Asynchronous learning

An asynchronous learning environment is one in which students and instructors always interact with others and engage course materials at different times. Just as they do in in-person courses, students in asynchronous learning environments can learn and interact in any number of ways, including through discussion, collaboration, project work, experiential learning, and more.
Learn more about asynchronous learning.

Regular and substantive interaction

Because of the challenges posed by distance learning, instructors have to be especially intentional about creating regular opportunities for interaction when designing online courses. The U.S. Department of Education requires that online courses include “regular and substantive interaction” (RSI). This page shares information on how to meet the “regular and substantive” requirement.
Learn more about regular and substantive interaction.

Integrating technology into your teaching

Teaching with technology can deepen student learning by supporting instructional objectives. But selecting the right technology can be tricky.
Learn more about integrating technology into your teaching.

Creating a culture of academic integrity

While no strategy is guaranteed to eliminate cheating completely, there are a number of ways to discourage and prevent cheating. This page includes steps you can take to promote academic integrity as you design your course.
Learn more about creating a culture of academic integrity.

Developing community agreements

Community agreements are statements that guide how members of a classroom community aspire to work and interact with each other. Community agreements can help instructors foster an inclusive learning environment.
Learn more about developing community agreements.

ChatGPT and other AI-based tools

The strategies on this page can help instructors think about how to communicate with students, set expectations, and develop assignments that increase students’ motivation to develop their own skills and ideas.
Learn more about ChatGPT and other AI-based tools.

Teaching the first day of class

A successful first day can set you down the path toward a successful quarter. Rather than just a time to review your syllabus, the first day is an opportunity to get to know your students, set the tone for the course, and establish expectations.
Learn more about teaching the first day of class.

Assessing student learning

Designing and conducting assessments

The goal of assessment transcends simply determining whether learning has happened. Effective assessment provides instructors with information and feedback they can use to improve their teaching.
Learn more about designing and conducting assessments.


Grading is an extremely complex task. Grades do not exist in a vacuum, but are part of the instructional process and serve as a feedback loop between instructor and student. It follows, then, that grading policy should be consistent with the learning objectives for the course.
Learn more about grading.

Constructing tests

Designing tests is an important part of assessing students’ understanding of course content and their level of competency in applying what they are learning.  Whether you use low-stakes and frequent evaluations–quizzes–or high-stakes and infrequent evaluations–midterm and final–careful design will help provide more calibrated results.
Learn more about constructing tests.

Critiquing student projects

Working with student projects in a studio, going over the planning stages of a research project, or working with students putting together a business presentation are all examples of situations in which you may need to critique student projects. Critiquing provides an opportunity to share with students what you know, to enable them to see various options, or to identify flaws in their reasoning or design.
Learn more about critiquing student projects.