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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 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 of a holistic and intentional plan for 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 innovative and effective practices in 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.  Course design consultations may address a wide range of course design issues, such as

  • Pedagogical orientation or interests
  • Learning goals for a course
  • A course’s function within a disciplinary or program curriculum
  • “Signature pedagogies” of one’s discipline
  • Syllabi construction, both substantive and formal
  • Reading assignments
  • Written assignments, tests, and other methods of assessing student learning
  • Grading methods and policies
  • Educational technologies
  • Lecturing techniques
  • Discussion leading
  • Lesson planning
  • Student engagement techniques
  • Attendance and participation
  • and many more

Course design consults are most useful when they help instructors take a holistic approach so that these different elements of course design are integrated in a balanced and intentional course plan.  This type of integrative course design can maximize both student growth and instructor satisfaction while attending to various curricular or other constraints on the course.


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 are faculty, you will likely meet with a CFT staff member who is a liaison to your discipline or school, and therefore has some familiarity with its curriculum and teaching landscape.  If you are a graduate instructor, you will likely meet with one of our staff dedicated to graduate instruction.  In all cases, you will meet with staff who have experience teaching 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, call the CFT at 615-322-7290 or email our administrative assistant, Juliet Traub, at least a week in advance.  Juliet 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.