Instructor Support

The General Education Program is an important element of a student's education at Wayne State University. While some students may feel these courses are unimportant or a barrier to the completion of their degree, faculty can improve students' experiences and learning in these courses through effective and intentional course design.

Listed below are evidence-based practices and resources to help you begin designing a course experience that will positively impact student learning (knowledge and skills gained) and their perceived value of your course. We have also identified additional support resources from the Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL).

Resources to Improve Your General Education Course

Transparency in Learning & Teaching (TILT)

Any course can benefit from well-defined assignments, particularly General Education courses, which are often aimed at building foundational skills, competence, and student self-efficacy. The TILT framework can be easily applied across a variety of disciplines and assignment types and is relatively easy to implement. Additional examples and resources can be found on the TILT website and we would recommend faculty looking to implement TILT review these particular resources: (1) Using a Transparent Framework to Remove Barriers to College Students' Success (15-minute video), (2) the Transparent Assignment Template, and (3) the Checklist for Designing Transparent Assignments. Further support for applying TILT in your course can be found on the OTL Virtual Resource Hub.*

Universal Design for Learning

Creating courses that are equitable and accessible will be a unique challenge for instructors and programs as higher education moves on from the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for equitability in course design is important too as the diversity of students who enroll in post-secondary education continues to increase. A significant number of students in higher education today have unique learning needs, so, rather than retroactively tailoring your course each semester for such diverse students, applying the UDL guidelines (providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression) will help you to proactively design your course in a manner that benefits all learners. Further support for applying UDL in your course can be found on the OTL Virtual Resource Hub.*

Writing Effective Learning Outcomes

In your course do you tell your students what they will learn? If we do not know what students are expected to know at the end of the course, module/unit, or lesson, how can we effectively identify what content to share with them and subsequently, how can we accurately assess what they have learned? Having published learning outcomes, both at a course-level and at a unit/module-level is exceptionally beneficial for students. Learning Taxonomies, such as Fink's Taxonomy or Bloom's Taxonomy, can help you write effective learning outcomes and ensure that you have a variety of outcomes that test students across a range of thinking skills (from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills).

Developing Authentic Assessments

An essential element of teaching and learning is assessment. Have our students learned what we espoused that they would learn (see Learning Outcomes above)? While our assessments should be aligned with learning outcomes, the format of our assessments also greatly influence student success (or lack thereof), particularly beyond the limits of your course (i.e., far-transfer of knowledge). Creating effective, authentic assessments challenge your students to apply what they are learning in a real-world simulation. While difficult to design well, there are many resources that can help you envision and design just such assessments.

Promote Active Learning

An active learning environment is an engaging learning environment. Integrating active learning strategies into your course can help student expand their knowledge on certain topic, build rapport between you and your students and rapport amongst the students, and help you to better understand if students really get it or not. There are many ways to implement active learning in your course and the benefits are significant. If you're new to active learning or need to troubleshoot some issues related to implementing active learning in your course, check out our frequently asked questions page about active learning. 

Additional Support from the OTL

The Office for Teaching and Learning supports Wayne State University instructors, departments, and schools/colleges in their goals for excellence in teaching and learning. The OTL provides a full complement of instructional development services and programs for instructors across the ranks and disciplines. We offer individual consultation services, workshops, institutes, and campus wide events to advance the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning. Each OTL offering helps to manifest a part of our mission and vision.

Select OTL Resources

Instructor Strategies