Introducing and Assessing Learning-Focused Course Design at the University of Virginia, USA and at Bielefeld University, Germany

This article presents a study assessing the effectiveness of course design interventions in moving instructors from a content-focused to a learning-focused approach to teaching. It describes the basic elements of course design seminars at Bielefeld University and at the University of Virginia and the role of syllabi as instruments for communicating learning-focused principles. The authors introduce their assessment tools designed to evaluate the efficacy of the course design interventions including a reliable syllabus rubric and a syllabus toolkit. The study findings suggest that both seminars are effective in helping instructors adopt a more learning-focused approach to teaching. The concluding discussion considers the implications of the study for academic developers, including contextual factors affecting the utility of syllabi as course design tools, and suggests avenues for future research.

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