Designing a course

Setting learning outcomes

Clearly stated observable and measurable objectives aid learners to navigate through course material, identify course expectations and requirements, and provide guidelines for assessment.  Contract academic instructors should determine which outcomes they are trying to help their students to achieve.  One approach is to follow the revised Bloom’s “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives” which may be organized as follows below.

Course outcomes

  • What will the students remember by the end of the course?
  • What will the students understand (be able to explain)?
  • How will the students be able to apply what they know in model situations?
  • Will they be able to:
    - analyze the internal structure of the course material or similar concepts?
    - evaluate the quality and utility of the material for a given purpose?
    - create novel concepts or products of their own using the learned techniques?


Course assessments should be planned to determine how well students have acheived the course outcomes.  One of the most impactful teaching practices is to provide lots of opportunites for formative evaluation during the life of the course.  Formative evaluation consists of assignments or tests that apply concepts but are done frequently to allow students to receive timely guided feedback that they can apply to their course work so they can improve their understanding and skills development.  Summative evaluation is tests and assignments near the end of the course for which there is no longer an opportunity to apply lessons learned on future course work, such as a final exam or final course project for which only a mark is given.

Learning activities

The various learning activities you provide during the course should be designed to help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to successfully complete assessments. There should be alignment of the learning level indicated in each course learning outcome and the learning level of both the learning and assessment activities.


Writing the syllabus

Some faculties/departments have a standard format for the course syllabus and/or a common scheme for conversion of numeric grades to letter grades, so it is important to consult the department/faculty contact person.

A general syllabus template developed by UNB can also be found here.

Your syllabus should at least include the following:

  • course title, number, semester, and where it takes place
  • course pre-requisites, if any
  • audience (if it is discipline specific or double numbered)
  • instructor’s name, contact information and office hours/availability
  • course description
  • calendar description (optional)
  • general overview and themes (expanded version of calendar description)
  • course objectives
  • course timetable (schedule of course content/activities)
  • course resources if any (e.g. textbook, lab manual) - required or optional
  • evaluation system, grading chart
  • course policies

Plagiarism and other academic offences

Each syllabus must contain the following statement on plagiarism and other academic offences. Feel free to copy and paste the box below into your syllabus. Undergraduate academic regulations can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.  Graduate regulations can be found in the School of Graduate Studies Calendar.


The University of New Brunswick places a high value on academic integrity and has a policy on plagiarism as well as cheating and other academic offences. Plagiarism includes:
1. Quoting verbatim or almost verbatim from any source, including all electronic sources, without acknowledgement;
2. Adopting someone else's line of thought, argument, arrangement, or supporting evidence without acknowledgment;
3. Submitting someone else's work, in whatever form, without acknowledgment;
4. Knowingly representing as one's own work any idea of another.

Examples of other academic offences include:
1. Cheating on exams, tests, assignments or reports;
2. Impersonating somebody at a test or exam;
3. Obtaining an exam, test or other course materials through theft, bribery, collusion, purchase or other improper manner;
4. Submitting coursework that is identical or substantially similar to work that has been submitted for another course;
5. And more as set out in the academic regulations of the Undergraduate and School of Graduate Studies Calendars.

Penalties for plagiarism and other offences range from a minimum of F (zero) in the assignment, exam or test to suspension or expulsion from the University, plus a notation of the academic offence on the student's transcript.

For more information, please go to the Undergraduate Calendar, Section B, Academic Regulation VIII. Academic Offences or the School of Graduate Studies Calendar, University Regulation 29.  It is the student's responsibility to know the regulations.  

Please refer to the CETL website for more information on  instructional design.