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Syllabus and Course Design Consultation

 

Why should I consider a syllabus or course design consultation?

Our consultations on syllabi and course design are great opportunities for you to review and improve your courses with CFT senior staff when it is most beneficial – before you ever step into the classroom.  This enables you to have the necessary time for reflection, discussion, and refinement for a holistic and intentional planning of your students’ learning experiences.  It therefore is an ideal way to ensure your courses satisfy your and your department’s learning goals, and that you and your students benefit from best practices found throughout higher education.

What is involved in this kind of consultation?

All consultations are unique because each course has its own goals, and each educator has his or her own teaching philosophy and style.  Further, clients may come to us in various stages of preparation and may choose one or more of a variety of course components to discuss.  Indeed, course design consultations may address a wide range of course design issues, each of which have their own complexities.

Such course components may include:

  • Pedagogical orientation or interests
  • Learning goals for a course
  • A course’s function within a disciplinary or program curriculum
  • Theoretical or methodological orientations of one’s discipline
  • Syllabi construction, both substantive and formal
  • Reading assignments
  • Written assignments, tests, and other methods of assessing student learning and performance
  • Grading methods and policies
  • Educational technologies
  • Lecturing
  • Discussion management
  • Lesson planning
  • Student engagement techniques
  • Attendance and participation
  • Class size
  • Class space and location

Where consults are of the most use, however, is in balancing the many choices one makes regarding these and other dimensions of course planning.  It is through this more holistic development that a course can maximize both student growth and teacher satisfaction.

Who can request a course design consultation?

Any faculty member, graduate student, or post-doc teaching at Vanderbilt can request a course design consultation.  This is a free service the CFT provides to the Vanderbilt teaching community.

Who will my teaching consultant be?

If you’re a faculty member, you’ll likely meet with your CFT liaison, a senior staff member with some familiarity with the teaching landscape in your discipline.  If you’re a graduate student, you’ll meet with one of our Graduate Teaching Fellows, graduate students with experience teaching here at Vanderbilt.

When should I consider a course design consultation?

You should schedule a course design consultation whenever it is convenient for you, but most of our clients choose to have them in the months prior to the semester in which the course will be offered.  This allows sufficient time to discuss, develop, and revise the many components of the course in question.  The more work that is needed to prepare the course and the less certain you are of its structure, the earlier you may wish to schedule a consult, and the more you may find additional consults helpful. For general information, see our teaching guide on Course Design.

How do I schedule a course design consultation?

To arrange a course design consultation, simply call the CFT at 322-7290 or email our administrative assistant, Juliet Traub, at least a week in advance.  Julie will schedule the consultation with one of our consultants.  At that time, it may be helpful to contact your consultant with information about any preliminary plans you may have for your course and any outstanding concerns you may have.