ICS 398B — UC Irvine — David G. Kay

Activity 1: Design an Introductory Course

You've just taken a new job as an assistant professor. Your department chair has asked you to design a course that will introduce (some aspects of) your field (computing, engineering, math) to students with no previous background.

Prepare four slides as follows (though in some forms, like PowerPoint, it might take more than three to fit this information):

  1. The goals of your course: Roughly five things that your students should be able to do at the end of the course. (We call these "student learning outcomes" and we phrase them using active verbs. This is generally clearer, more concrete, and easier to measure or assess than just listing topics.) These goals are independent of the order in which you cover them; that's a question for later.

  2. The major graded items (assignments, projects, quizzes, tests) you plan to assign. Just give a five-word description of each (e.g., "Group project to analyze a business's information usage" or "final exam"); designing actual assignments and exams is a topic for later in the course.

  3. A brief course outline, with two or three words per class meeting. (In a ten-week quarter, you might have 20 meetings, two 80-minute meetings per week, or 30 meetings with three 50-minute meetings. These are the choices at UCI; of course it could be different elsewhere.) Unlike the goals, this outline is chronological and lists topics you plan to cover.

  4. What if your department chair looks at your course and says, "This isn't what I had in mind at all."? If you had to design a course to meet these goals that was significantly different from the course you've just described, what would that alternative course be like? Just ten words of high-level description; no need to flesh it out.

You may wish to look at this detailed checklist for instructors planning a course or an actual course syllabus (or two or three) for a list of the kinds of things you want to have decided by the start of the course.

Your goal is to produce a brief synopsis of your work, so we can see what your class involves. Don't spend a lot of time making it look polished; it's better that you spend that time thinking about course design tradeoffs.

Please bring an electronic version to class to present (anything that will work with the classroom projection system is fine).

David G. Kay, kay@uci.edu