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The Course Ajar: Principles and Practices for Multi-Section Program Design

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The Course Ajar: Principles and Practices for Multi-Section Program Design. Ed Nagelhout Department of English. UNLV Faculty Research Institute ● 5 March 2010. When is a class not a class?. When is a course not a course?. When it’s a program. Program Design. Program Design.

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The Course Ajar: Principles and Practices for Multi-Section Program Design

Ed NagelhoutDepartment of English

UNLV Faculty Research Institute ● 5 March 2010


When is a class not a class?

When is a course not a course?


Program Design

Program Design

Program Thinking

Program Planning


Program Design

All students should have basically the same experience in every section

no matter the teacher or platform


Program Design

are necessary

Form (rules and structure)

for freedom to exist.


Program Design

English 407A: Business Writing

  • ~75 sections per year (~1500 students):
    • 10-15 traditional face-to-face sections
    • 25-30 hybrid sections
    • 25-30 online/distance ed sections

All sections of English 407A use WebCampus as the primary delivery of course content.


Program Design

To Meet Programmatic Goals, the Business Writing Program employs:

  • Common Syllabus
  • Common Outcomes
  • Common Projects
  • Multiple Assessment Measures
  • Standards for Excellence
  • Pedagogical Aims
  • Teacher Agency

One question about program design:

What features of your current course design lend themselves to programmatic thinking?

  • Think about time spent in class:
    • Lectures?
    • Discussions?
    • In-class work?
  • Think about time spent outside class:
  • Reading?
  • Assignments?
  • Homework?
  • Writing?

Student Workload

never having to say,

Assessmentmeans . . .

“I’m sorry.”


Student Workload

Outcomes should focus on . . .

Knowing How

Knowing What



Student Workload

Assignments must be flexible

for students AND teachers.


Student Workload

English 407A Outcomes

  • Write to multiple audiences, for various purposes
  • Plan and manage short- and long-term writing projects
  • Draft, design, revise, and edit documents
  • Design and implement appropriate research strategies
  • Write collaboratively (co-authoring, peer revising)
  • Follow and adjust to business writing conventions
  • Design documents for both content and visual appeal
  • Use writing to help prepare and deliver oral presentations
  • Write ethically and responsibly

Student Workload

Common Outcomes

Common Assignments

  • Introductory Project (2)
  • Major Group Project (3)
  • Case Project (4)
  • Employment Project
  • All have multiple deliverables
  • 407A Process
    • Invent/Plan
    • Draft
    • Peer Review
    • Revise
    • Teacher Response
    • Revise
    • Edit
    • Evaluation
  • Evaluation Criteria
    • General Criteria
    • Project-Specific Criteria
  • Based on outcomes

Student Workload

Programmatic Assessment

  • Analyze Findings By
    • Outcome
    • Criteria for a Single Project
    • Criteria across Projects
    • Platform
    • Section or Across Sections
  • Analyze Findings For
    • Student Learning
    • Teacher Effectiveness
    • Teacher Support
    • Program Effectiveness

One question about assessment:

What do you want to know?

  • Think about student success:
    • Outcomes?
    • Skills?
    • Consistency?
  • Think about course success:
  • Goals?
  • Program?
  • Coherence?

Teacher Workload

must be clearly articulated

Teacher expectations

time in class

time responding to student work

time in office hours

class prep time

professional development time


Teacher Workload

Teacher Support

Teacher Efficiency

Teacher Responsibility

Teacher Choice

Teacher Strengths

Teacher Effectiveness


Teacher Workload

Teacher Support Structures

  • 10-Hour-Per-Week Commitment
  • New Teacher Mentor Program
  • Staff Meetings
    • Norming/Response Workshops
    • Professional Development Workshops
  • Course Materials
    • Online and In-Class Handouts
    • Project Notes and Samples
    • Student Writing Samples
    • Daily Message Samples and Prompts

Teacher Workload

Case Project Staff Meeting (sample)

  • General Criteria
    • Format
    • Audience
    • Depth of Thought
    • Argument
    • Business Style
    • Grammar and Correctness
  • Project-Specific Criteria
    • Fix the Problem
    • Maintain Relations
    • Quality of Internal Document
    • Quality of External Document

1) Start with criteria

2) Define criteria

3) Strategies for discussing criteria in class

4) Respond to samples w/ criteria

5) Evaluate samples w/criteria


Final Summary

  • To achieve consistency and coherence, you must think and plan programmatically.
  • A commitment to assessment leads to robust outcomes which lead to flexible assignments which lead to applicable assessment measures.
  • Effective and efficient teachers develop from a clear set of expectations and diverse support structures.

Final Questions?

For more information and to view samples, please visit:

Ed Nagelhout

FDH 628