New Academic Course Development

Content & Design

There are multiple design models and approaches to design effective courses. The common course design model that we emphasize at SUU is Backward Design, but instructors are welcome to utilize other models. Effective course design is a process that includes identifying course-level outcomes and developing instructional materials, learning activities, interactions, and feedback and measurement is in place for when the course is active.

Content should be relevant to the discipline and/or profession and be as current as possible, and the use of High Impact Practices is encouraged where pedagogically appropriate. The Center for Teaching Innovation offers many resources for instructors on course development on their Teaching Resources site on topics such as course design, inclusive teaching, and instructor effectiveness. They also offer self-enroll learning and development badges in DesignPLUS, Accessibility, and Course Organization.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What philosophical/instructional design approach(es) will guide the course's development?
  2. Does the Abbreviated Equity Lens for Courses offer any insights about the course content?
  3. Will the course generally be offered in a 14-week or 7-week term? What pedagogical changes/adaptations may be necessary for each length of term? If the course will be offered in a 14-week summer term, how will the course need to be adapted to account for not having a finals week?

Learning Outcomes & Assessment

All courses must address the following three components:

  • Learning Outcomes/Objectives: What should students be able to know, do, and/or value when completing this course?
  • Learning Activities: How will you help students achieve the learning outcomes (e.g., discussion, group work, lecture, reading assignments, etc.)?
  • Assessment Methods: How will you determine to what degree students have achieved the learning outcomes (e.g., exams, papers, portfolio, projects, etc.)?

Providing students with learning outcomes will assist them in understanding what they should be focused on during the course or a specific module/unit of the course. Learning outcomes should not simply specify an assignment to be completed or a module to-do list. With this in mind, learning outcomes are demonstrated through the learning activities provided in the course. The Center for Teaching Innovation offers many resources for instructors on learning outcomes and assessment on their Teaching Resources site.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Do the course's learning outcomes align with those appropriate to the course's level?

Course Syllabus

The course's syllabus is a required element and sets the tone for the course. It provides a way for students to know what to expect in the course, how they can success in the course, what their responsibilities are, and what the instructor's responsibilities are. Course syllabi are governed by SUU Policy 6.36 Course Syllabus and must contain the following elements:

  1. Course information: title, catalog number, description, pre-requisites, if any;
  2. Meeting time and location: days of the week, time of day, and where the course meets;
  3. Instructor information: instructor's name, office (room) number, office hours, and telephone number, and e-mail address;
  4. Required and recommended texts;
  5. References (library reserve and supplemental information);
  6. Overall expected student learning outcomes including SUU's Essential Learning Outcomes and/or the GE Learning Outcomes, as applicable, (e.g., what faculty expects a student to know, understand, and be able to do upon completion of the course)
  7. Assessment/Evaluation/Grading: Make it clear how a student's achievement of the learning outcomes will be assessed/evaluated, and how grades will be determined (e.g., exams, papers, projects, and/or presentations);
  8. Instructor's policies on late assignments and/or makeup work;
  9. Attendance policy: description of attendance policy (sample text: Regular attendance is required at all class meetings.);
  10. Required extra- or co-curricular activities, if applicable;
  11. Statement of safety or risk assumption in courses requiring laboratories, physical activity, travel or field trips, if applicable;
  12. Statement of course fees;
  13. Academic integrity policy;
  14. ADA statement;
  15. Emergency Management statement;
  16. HEOA Compliance statement;
  17. The final disclaimer statement on each syllabus.

For the current wording of items #13-17, please see the Required Syllabus Statements document. Instructors may also choose to include the following optional elements:

  1. Course organization and scope;
  2. Schedule of reading assignments and homework due dates;
  3. Instructor's policies on objectionable materials: notification procedures of course content that may be deemed objectionable by some students;
  4. Description of additional information unique to the class or instructor; and/or
  5. Grading/assessment rubrics.

The Center for Teaching Innovation has a Canvas syllabus template that addresses all aspects of Policy 6.36; please contact them for help in adding it to your Canvas course shell.

Course Type & Workload

Faculty workload is calculated based on the type of course, its credit hours, and/or contact hours. SUU Policy 6.27 Faculty Workload outlines the exact calculations and includes definitions for each course type. Also in this policy are the definitions of a credit hour and a contact hour, repeated below:

  • Credit Hour: A credit hour of work is the equivalent of approximately 50 minutes of class time or 60 minutes of independent study work. A minimum of 45 hours of work by each student is required for each unit of credit.
  • Contact Hour: The time a faculty member is required to spend in direct contact with students over the course of a class per week as approved through the curriculum process. For example, a face-to-face, three-credit lecture-based course would meet for approximately 150 minutes per week and result in three (3) Contact Hours.

Also review the table below for typical credit to contact hour ratios:

Credit:Contact Hour Ratio by Course Type
Schedule Type Schedule Code Typical Ratio
Lecture XLEC 1:1
Lab XLAB 1:2 or 1:3
Lecture/Lab XLEL 1:1 or 1:2
Conferences & Workshops XCON 1:1
Individualized Instruction XINV 1:1
Supervision XSUP 1:1
Thesis XTHE 1:1
Other XOTH 1:1

When submitting a new course in the curriculum process, select the course type that is most appropriate for the content and nature of the course. While a correct workload calculation is important, one-off changes can be made from term to term or section to section as needed; the pedagogical approach of the course should always be the determining factor of the primary course type.

Please note: Course delivery/modality and term length does not change the course type, credit hours, or contact hours. A lecture course is a lecture course whether it is on campus, online, or hybrid delivery, and a 3-credit lecture will have 3 contact hours no matter if it is taught in a 14-week or a 7-week term.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is the course variable credits? (If so, the workload calculation changes to a flat calculation and is not based on course type. See Policy 6.27 Table 2.)
  2. Does the department expect enrollments in the course larger than 59 per section? (If so, a multiplier may be in play on some course types but not all. See Policy 6.27 Table 1.)

Catalog & Banner Information

The following general elements are the building blocks for courses within the University's catalog and Student Information System (Banner). In conjunction with other areas outlined above, these elements determine what students see when planning and registering for courses, how/if they are able to register, how courses are grouped and organized, etc. Any changes to these elements for currently existing must go through the curriculum process.

Course Prefix & Number

A course prefix is a 2-4 character code that groups types of courses together. Each prefix is associated with only one academic department and cannot be split amongst multiple departments. The course number is a 4-digit unique identifier for each individual course. In rare cases, a letter may be added to the 4-digit code (e.g., ENGL 1010E) but there must be a compelling case for this addition. The first digit of each course's number determines the "level" of the course according to provisions outlined in the SUU Catalog.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Do you need to create a new prefix? If so, you will need to submit a new prefix request form in Curriculog at least one round before proposing the new course, due to how Curriculog works.
  2. Will the course use a common course number? Common course number exist both at the institutional level and the USHE level. See the SUU Catalog for a list of SUU common course numbers. USHE-level common course numbers are determined at the annual Majors Meetings.
  3. Is the course number and/or level appropriate for the course's learning outcomes?
  4. Has the course number been used previously? Ideally, all new courses should use a brand-new number to distinguish it from other courses. Check the Old Course Numbers sheet to see if the course number has been used already, as well as the current list of courses in the SUU Catalog.

Course Titles & Descriptions

Students rely on clear titles and detailed descriptions to understand the focus and content of the courses they enroll in. These can be especially important for major electives where students select from several options based on their educational or professional goals. There are no character/word limitations for descriptions, but try to avoid descriptions that are more than two paragraphs if possible.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is the course's title consistent with USHE and/or similar programs?
  2. Does the description give an accurate understanding of the content of the course?
  3. Does the course title and description include too much detail that could require frequent curriculum changes? If so, could more general language be used to respond to emerging disciplinary trends without the need for frequent curriculum changes?

Course Sequencing & Scheduling

Courses should be offered on a regular, consistent basis. Sequencing should be a deliberate decision based on student needs and departmental resources. Students and advisors use the published sequencing listed in each catalog course entry to create their graduation plans, so accurate sequencing is incredibly important. While it may be tempting to use the "As Needed" approach, this should be a last resort, and sequencing should be as accurate as possible for the next 3-5 years.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How often will the course be offered? Is it sufficient for the major's students to enroll in without pushing back their graduation? If program growth is expected, will additional terms need to be added? What resources would be needed?
  2. If the sequencing will be "As Needed," is the course required in the major or is it an elective? If it's a required course, is there a more appropriate sequencing that would allow students to plan when they will enroll? If it's an elective, how likely is it that it can be scheduled regularly? What resources would be needed to offer the course regularly?
  3. If the course is one of several in buildable sequencing (e.g., Subject I - Fall, Subject II - Spring, Subject III - Fall), what options do students have if they enter "off-sequence"? Will there be enough other required courses that a student could build a full schedule?
  4. Does the program's course sequencing align with course prerequisites and their sequencing? Would a student be set back more than one semester/session if they failed a course?

Course Prerequisites & Co-Requisites

Prerequisites can be an important and necessary component of the program's curriculum. However, sometimes there may be such a number of prerequisites that if students get "off sequence," they may push their graduation back by several semesters.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Are the prerequisites appropriate for the course's content? In other words, are the prerequisites giving students foundational knowledge that they need in order to successfully pass the course, or does the prerequisite serve more as a registration barrier? Could the prerequisite(s) be taken concurrently with the course?
  2. Will the course use ACT/SAT scores as prerequisites? Now that those scores are not required to enter SUU, what alternatives could be used for prerequisites/placement?
  3. Will the course have co-requisites? If so, is having a separate course necessary or can the content for both be covered in one course? Alternatively, will the students be meeting all of the planned learning outcomes of the course? If not, would it be appropriate to create/add a co-requisite?

Repeatability & Variability

It may be appropriate for some courses to be repeated for additional credit, such as internships, undergraduate/graduate research, special topics, etc. Please note that "repeatability" is how many times a student may take the course for credit if they pass the course each time. Repeatability does not refer to students re-enrolling in a course that they may have failed or withdrawn from; in these cases, departments may create their own policies to guide how many attempts a student may make for their particular courses.

Some courses may have a variable range of credits to allow students and departments the most flexibility, and such courses may also be repeatable. The department must consider if they want to establish limits on the total times a student may take (and pass) the course, the total credits a student may earn in the course, or a combination of both. (Generally speaking we prefer to do one or the other, but there are cases where both are appropriate.)

Questions to Consider:

  1. Will the course cover different topics depending on the term and/or who is teaching it? Should students be allowed to take this course multiple times under different topics? If yes, how many times is pedagogically appropriate? (This may be influenced by how many discipline-specific electives the program has.)
  2. If the course is repeatable and variable credit, should restrictions be placed on the course based on total number of times taken/passed and/or total number of credits earned? For example, EX 1010 is a variable-credit course of 1-9 credits and can be taken up to 3 times. Student A could take the course for 1 credit each in 3 terms and earn a total of 3 credits, while Student B could take the course for 9 credits each in 3 terms and earn a total of 27 credits. If it's not appropriate for a student to earn 27 credits in this course, the department can place a cap on total credits earned to 9 while still allowing students 3 terms to take the course.

Registration Restrictions

If appropriate, registration for courses may be restricted based on specific student attributes. Restrictions may be made based on the following:

  • Field of study (e.g., Biology major, Ethnic Studies minor, etc.)
  • Class standing (e.g., freshman, sophomore, senior, etc.)
  • Degree (e.g., Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of Fine Arts, etc.)
  • Student attribute (e.g., Honors)

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is it necessary to restrict students from enrolling in the course? If so, how are those students best identified? For example, if only upper-division students should register, then a restriction of "Junior or Senior standing only" could be placed.
  2. Are the course's prerequisites (if applicable) enough to restrict registration or do additional guardrails need to be placed?
  3. Is it pedagogically appropriate to place restrictions on the course? Should only students who have been admitted into a "secondary admittance" program (e.g., Nursing, Social Work) be able to register?

Course Crosslisting/Equivalency

For curriculum purposes, if two (or more) courses are "equivalent" (a.k.a. crosslisted), students may only take one of those courses for credit. The course content is considered the same or similar enough that taking each course would be redundant.

Note 1: Per USHE policy, undergraduate courses may not be crosslisted between a lower-division course (numbered 1000-2999) and an upper-division course (numbered 3000-4999). 

Note 2: Curricular crosslisting is not the same as scheduling crosslisting. Non-equivalent courses may be scheduled at the same time, in the same classroom, with the same instructor, in order to best utilize resources. This is considered scheduling crosslisting but does not automatically convey curricular crosslisting on the courses.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What level of courses will be crosslisted? Are they both undergraduate (with different prefixes but the same number) or is one undergraduate and the other graduate (with the same prefix but different numbers)? Is the course content the same or similar enough that students should only take one iteration of the crosslisted courses?
  2. Why is a crosslisting necessary? Is it pedagogically appropriate?

Approval Process & Timeline

New courses and course revisions must be proposed through the University's curriculum management software, Curriculog. Typically the forms for new and modified courses open in mid-Summer for consideration in the upcoming academic year, and all proposals are submitted in the academic year prior to them going into effect. For example, to propose a new course, a faculty member would access the new course proposal form in Curriculog as early as June 2024. It would go through the curriculum approval process during the 2024-2025 academic year, and if approved, go into effect in Fall 2025.

The catalog "lead" term is always Fall, meaning that no curricular changes or additions can be implemented before the Fall term. Under extenuating circumstances, a case-by-case exception may be granted by the Provost, but departments and faculty should plan accordingly.


Provost's Office