Course Design Institute

About the Course Design Institute (CDI)


This four-day institute spread over a week will support faculty in re-imagining their current courses or designing new courses so as to help foster significant learning for their students. It starts with the question, “What do you want your students to know 3–5 years after the course is over?”. Core faculty and team facilitators will guide you through an iterative, dynamic, and scholarly process of course design. In the end, you will design a course you love to teach, and one students love to take.


Day 1: 03 August 2023 (Thursday)
Day 2: 04 August 2023 (Friday)
Day 3: 07 August 2023 (Monday)
Day 4: 08 August 2023 (Tuesday)
Day 5: 11 August 2023 (Friday) - Deadline for submission of artefact (No session)

For a detailed schedule, click here.

Structure and format

During the Institute, an interdisciplinary group of participants will spend four days designing or substantially redesigning courses to promote significant, long-term learning. It starts with the question, “What do you want your students to know 3–5 years after the course is over?”. Participants will explore learner-centred design principles in a large-group setting and then work on their individual course design in small learning groups. Each small group, led by a facilitator, will provide participants with opportunities for brainstorming, individualised feedback, and ongoing support.

The design principles on which the Institute rest are grounded in the literature on course and syllabus design, effective assessment, the learning sciences, and student motivation. Three components make up our approach: (1) a taxonomy of significant learning; (2) concepts of backward design; and, (3) principles of inclusive education.

This course design strategy offers a framework for considering the whole learner, making the learner the focus of the learning environment. It provides guidance for thinking about the types of knowledge and skills that participants would want their students to learn and how their students might apply and integrate that knowledge. It prompts participants to think about other dimensions of learning: how they might inspire students to care about that knowledge; what students might learn about themselves, others, and their own learning; and, how they might assess whether they meet the course goals.

What are the learning goals of CDI?

Designed to expand participants’ pedagogical content knowledge, foster community and personal growth, and increase teacher satisfaction. During the institute, you will:

  • design or redesign a course built on learner-centred design principles;
  • develop a final or near-final syllabus; and,
  • learn how to apply research-based teaching and learning principles to design other courses.

How much time will this take?

You will spend around 40 hours during this week working on your course design. Nearly 3/4 of this time is spent in the Institute itself—approximately six hours per day for four days. The remaining time is spent outside of class completing various components of your course design and preparing for upcoming discussions.

Important Note: Many participants underestimate the time outside the Institute it takes to fully develop their course. Consider clearing your calendar completely and dedicating the four scheduled CDI days to completing structured activities and individual work on your courses. 

Do I have to attend all of the meetings?

Throughout the Institute, you will work in a small, interdisciplinary group comprised of fellow instructors. This learning community will provide you with thoughtful, constructive feedback, alternative perspectives, and general support and encouragement.  As such, we ask that you plan to attend each meeting and come with your “homework” completed.

What do I need to apply?

In 500 words or less, briefly describe why you are interested in designing/redesigning a course during our course Design Institute. Please draw from the following questions to guide your response:

  • What are your goals for student learning? How will your course help students achieve those goals?
  • If you are redesigning an existing course, what is the change you want to see, and why?
  • Are there aspects of your course that you expect will be particularly difficult to design?

What do I need to do to prepare for the Institute?

When either designing a new course or redesigning an existing one, the two most important questions you can ask are:

  1. What do I want and hope my students will be able to do 3–5 years after taking my course?
  2. Why is this important to me?

Spending time in advance of the Institute contemplating these questions will greatly facilitate the design process. We will send you a few key resources 1–2 weeks prior to the Institute. We recommend that you read the materials as much as possible prior to the Institute.

Who are the group facilitators?

Group facilitators are experienced instructors who will lead individual learning teams through the process of learning-focused course design. By actively listening and asking powerful questions, the team facilitator will guide you in developing your dream course.

List of group facilitators:
Mark GAN, Associate Director, CDTL
Kiruthika RAGUPATHI, Associate Director, CDTL
SOO Yuen Jien, Director, CDTL
Verily TAN, Senior Education Specialist, CDTL

For further information about the CDI, please contact:

Associate Director, CDTL