Contributor: Lynda Davies

The circular diagram has been adapted from

In the earlier post about Shaping Course Design and Student Expectations we explored how types of activities and interactions can influence student dispositions and their study practices, what choices are available between collaborative and independent activities (and hence what skills we encourage our students to build), and how we communicate our course design and its function to students.

To follow on from that episode, today we are looking at one possible approach to the course design process.

Course design can be carried out in many different ways using many different points-of-focus. Our development of the Teacher-guided and Learner-generated Course Design Framework started when we were exploring what positive student engagement in a course really looks like. We asked:

  • What is it that students actually need to do to succeed in this course?
  • What stuff to they need to know?
  • How do they get to know it?
  • Where, when and from whom do they get the content?
  • What do they have to do with that content?
  • What skills do they need to build? ……. and so on.

Not only did these questions give us the opportunity to look at course design through students’ eyes by putting them in the centre, they helped us envisage how to turn the University’s learning and teaching strategies into practical learning experiences.

With that in mind, we wanted to find a way to illustrate how pedagogy both depends on, and influences, course design.

The Teacher-guided and Learner-generated Course Design Framework can help us start conceptualising, at a big picture level, how the course elements can fit together to support students’ learning process.

To aid in applying this framework we have constructed a tipsheet (found in the Resources section below) that expands on its various elements. The circular diagram illustrates the pedagogical phases of the course design. For each quadrant within the circle there is a corresponding list of activities that you may like to use to enact the strategies you select. And there are additional prompt questions to assist your decision-making about the purpose of each type of activity and how they can all fit together.

We have used the Teacher-guided and Learner-generated framework to shape discussions with colleagues around both the review of existing courses and the development of new courses.


Take a look at the tipsheet and use the accompanying activity worksheet to brainstorm some ideas using the Teacher-guided and Learner-generated framework.

Further Reading/Resources

Teacher-guided and Learner-generated Course Design tipsheet

Working with the Framework Activity Worksheet

Race, Phil. (2010) Making Learning Happen: A guide for post-compulsory education. 2nd Edition. London, United Kingdom: Sage.


Course design often occurs over a period of time and the framework can help us focus on one element at a time, knowing that by the end it will fit together holistically.

Once all the macro-design questions are addressed, detailed work can continue to look at developing an authentic learning environment through individual assessment tasks and their contributing/preparatory learning activities, student interactions, and course site design.

A future episode will discuss designing authentic learning activities and assessment.


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