Skip to main content

Course Design Institute

Each CFE Course Design Institute (CDI) is a structured sequence of workshops, activities, and working sessions held over a 3-day period with a 6- to 12-member cohort of UNC instructors. Together, we use backward design approaches to develop upcoming courses while also receiving feedback on the course materials we create.

The next CDI will be offered via Zoom on March 13, 14, and 15, 2023 (9:00 AM – 12:30 PM). Registration is open here 

Please contact Dr. Marissa Stewart with any questions.

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.

Any faculty and staff members, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars at Carolina who have instructional responsibilities are welcome to apply.

Institute Learning Objectives

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

  • Explain the backward design process for course development
  • Construct clear, observable learning outcomes that can be aligned with assessments and learning activities
  • Plan assessments/assignments that align with learning objectives
  • Choose learning activities which support successful completion of course assessments/assignments
  • Decide which content or topics to include/exclude in your course and how to organize instructional materials to facilitate each learner’s achievement of learning objectives
  • Consider how various aspects of course design contributes to an inclusive classroom environment and an equitable learning experience

Upcoming Institutes are scheduled for:

Course Design Institutes are generally offered multiple times a year, usually during spring break, during early to mid-June, and in mid-December. Dates for forthcoming institutes will be available soon.

Previous Institutes:

  • March 13, 15, & 17, 2017 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • June 5, 7, & 9, 2017 (M/W/F, 12:30pm-4:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • August 7, 9, & 11, 2017 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • December 18, 19, & 20, 2017 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • March 12, 14, & 16, 2018 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • June 4, 6, & 8, 2018 (M/W/F, 12:30pm-4:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • August 6, 8, & 10, 2018 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • December 17, 19, & 21, 2018 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 504 Wilson Library
  • March xx, xx, & xx, 2019 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 504 Wilson Library
  • March 11, 13, & 15, 2019 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • June 10, 12, & 14, 2019 (M/W/F, 12:30pm-4:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • August 5, 7, & 9, 2019 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 304 Wilson Library
  • December 16, 18, & 20, 2019 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), 504 Wilson Library
  • March 9, 11, & 13, 2020 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), via Microsoft Teams
  • June 8, 10, & 12, 2020 (M/W/F, 8:30am-12:30pm), via Microsoft Teams
  • November 30, December 2, and December 4, 2020 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • December 14, 16, and 18, 2020 (M/W/F, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • May xx, xx, and xx, 2020 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • June 14, 16, and 18, 2021 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM EDT), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • July 19, 21, and 23, 2021 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM EDT), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • December 13, 15, and 17, 2021 (M/W/F, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • March 14, 16, and 18, 2022 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 PM EST), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • June 13, 15, and 17, 2022 (M/W/F, 12:30 PM – 4:30 EST), via Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • December 12, 14, & 16, 2022 (M/W 12:30pm – 4:30pm, F 9:00am – 12:00pm), via Zoom and Canvas

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.