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Our Course Design Institute (CDI) is a structured sequence of workshops, activities, and working sessions held over a 3-day period (for 12 contact-hours overall) where a small cohort of instructors—generally between six and fourteen colleagues—use “backward design” approaches to develop their upcoming courses.

We explore how and why to design a course based around learning objectives; receive feedback on aspects of course design from Institute facilitators and peers; and build a basic structure for each course along with the beginnings of relevant course materials.

CFE CDIs are open to all UNC-CH faculty—tenured, tenure-track, fixed-term, and adjunct—as well as postdoctoral scholars, advanced graduate students, and staff with instructional responsibilities.

Institute learning objectives

By the conclusion of a Course Design Institute, you will be able to:

  • articulate and align course- and module-level learning objectives
  • plan assessments/assignments aligned with course- and module-level learning objectives
  • plan learning activities which support each learner’s successful completion of course assessments/assignments
  • decide which content or topics to include/exclude in your course and how to organize instructional materials in order to facilitate each learner’s achievement of course- and module-level learning objectives
  • compare how various aspects of course design contribute to equitable learner outcomes

Upcoming Institutes are scheduled for:

  • December 13, 15, and 17, 2021 (M/W/F, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST) [apply by 11/19]
  • March 14, 16, and 18, 2022 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM EDT) [apply by 2/18]
  • June 13, 15, and 17, 2022 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM EDT) [apply by 5/20]
  • July 25, 27, and 29, 2022 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM EDT) [apply by 7/1]

You should expect to hear more about your application status about three to four weeks before that Institute is scheduled to begin.

Previous Institutes:

Frequently Asked Questions

How would I benefit from a CDI?

The reasons that instructors choose are as varied as the disciplines in which we teach. Some are early-career faculty members developing new courses in their area of specialization. Some are seasoned faculty members who are looking for ways to refresh courses they have taught successfully for years. Others are attempting to frame their courses in such a way as to appeal to larger numbers of students, to better align with standards and competencies associated with accreditation, or to respond to feedback received from students about the course from previous semesters.

What happens after I submit my application for a CDI?

After you submit an application to participate in a particular CDI for a particular course, applications are reviewed by CDI facilitators through a competitive process and registration is generally limited to a maximum of eight faculty members per CDI. (Additional applicants will be added to a waitlist and/or be granted priority acceptance for a future CDI). You will receive either an acceptance or a waitlist notification email approximately three weeks in advance of the CDI, and you will receive a reminder email a few days before the CDI begins. If you are waitlisted for a CDI, your application for a future CDI receives additional priority consideration. During the CDI itself, you are expected to attend each of the three sessions and to use the unscheduled time during the session to make progress on your course. There will be “homework” to complete throughout the Institute, which generally consists of expanding upon work done during the sessions.

What have past participants said about their experiences at the conclusion of the CDI?

“It was really helpful to get exposure to both proven teaching strategies and innovative ideas to improve the classroom experience. The process of mapping objectives and assessments was especially useful.”

“The CDI is the perfect space to develop, refine and enrich instructor’s ideas for teaching a course. The CDI includes various exercises oriented to reach a more developed stage in your course goals and objectives via reflecting, writing and discussing with faculty from across disciplines. The CDI design and instruction is an excellent exemplar of how faculty can teach a course –successfully– where participants are actively engaged and where the goals of the course are effectively reached.”

“Benefits: my syllabus aligns better with course goals/institutional goals. I can articulate the importance of/justify each component of the syllabus for both administration and students. I gained tools and techniques for developing other syllabi. I have better knowledge of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and plan to include a discussion on metacognition earlier in the semester. Learner-centered approach. I came with anxiety about the course and I left feeling empowered and energized. The community that developed in the CDI was also empowering and energizing. The colleagues in my cohort were incredibly useful for troubleshooting and for calibrating my syllabus relative to student and instructor workload (e.g. earning tenure while teaching well.) Challenges: a new way of designing syllabus requires different types of thinking–e.g. not content first (which was my training until this point.) I would have wanted a longer period (take me all the way through the course design, including assignments/assessments)”

What do I do if none of the dates / times schedules for the CDIs work for me?

If none of the dates/times for scheduled CDIs work for your schedule, please let us know, and we can try to better account for your availability in an upcoming offering. The CFE, as part of our pan-university mission, also offers individual consultations on course design to any UNC-CH faculty member; please email if you would be interested in working one-on-one with a CFE staff member to design your course.