CTRL Course Design Institute

The CTRL Course Design Institute (CDI) is a series of workshops and supplemental materials to support faculty and staff as they design courses and learning environments optimized for inclusion, engagement, and deep learning. It is meant for anyone aiming to revamp an existing course, create a completely new course, or enhance their teaching practice, whether teaching in-person, online, or in a hybrid environment. The institute will introduce you to inclusive, evidence-based practices in course design and teaching while incorporating ample opportunities for collaboration, reflection, and application. By the end of the institute, you will have developed a complete course plan and additional instructional materials and ideas to implement directly into your course(s).

“If you have never learned about course design, you need this course. If you have learned about it but are unsure, you need this course. If you already know but want to refresh, you need this course.”

“I had a great experience. I would like colleagues to know that this is a valuable course. It will help them think of new ways to make teaching more engaging for faculty and students.”

“Tremendously valuable in fostering community, engagement, and effective designs–plus highly useful evidence-based tools!”

“Realizing that everyone is teachable, especially those who are teaching was the most valuable experience for me. And also, power of sharing and empowering each other, which was achieved by the work of the brilliant teachers we had.”

“I loved that we were able to apply much of the learned content during the course, i.e in breakout rooms in small groups, using Jamboard and other tools or as homework.”

Participation in the Course Design Institute offers instructors:

  • A foundation in inclusive and equitable course design to apply to your teaching and syllabi development now and in the future
  • An expanded teaching toolkit, through an introduction to and experience with a variety of inclusive, student-centered, evidence-based teaching practices
  • Resources, time, and support to (re)design a course, including access to a resource-packed Canvas page, focused worktime during sessions, and personalized consultations with CTRL teaching support staff
  • Interactions with colleagues from across American University, with structured opportunities for feedback, sharing ideas, and building professional relationships

Fall 2022 Institute Schedule

In Fall 2022, the CDI will occur across four weeks, to allow participants ample time to apply and digest the material between sessions. The live sessions will occur on Wednesdays from 12:30-1:45 pm, on 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9 over Zoom, and participants should plan to attend all four sessions, as the sessions do build on each other. Participants should expect to dedicate at least 1-2 additional hours per week to developing their course materials to get the most out of the live sessions. It is meant to be a dynamic, interactive, and fulfilling professional development experience.

Participants who engage in all the live sessions and complete the required activities will receive a certificate of completion to include in your teaching portfolio as evidence of professional development in teaching.

Workshop 1: Set Learning Goals: Applying Backward Course Design

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the session, participants will be able to…

  • Explain the backward design process
  • Evaluate the alignment of course learning outcomes with assessments and learning experience
  • Articulate clear, observable learning outcomes for your course(s) to increase transparency and clarity


Description: Where should I begin when (re)designing my course?  In this session, we will explore the evidence-based backward design process and help you apply it effectively to plan your course(s).  You will articulate clear, observable learning outcomes for your course(s) that will guide your instructional decisions.

Workshop 2: Measure Learning: Developing Purposeful Assessments and Providing Feedback

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the session, participants will be able to…

  • Describe different types of assessments and their benefits
  • Identify formal and informal assessments to measure and monitor student learning in your course(s) and provide feedback
  • Develop an assessment plan for your course(s) that aligns with your course learning outcomes

Description: How do you know whether students have achieved the course learning outcomes? In this session, we will discuss various approaches to assessing student learning, both formal and informal. You will learn more about how to design alternative, more authentic assessments as well as how to employ formative assessments to monitor learning along the way. This session builds off Workshop 1, because you will consider which approaches to assessing student learning best align with your learning outcomes.

Workshop 3: Engage Students: Creating a Student-centered Learning Experience

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the session, participants will be able to…

  • Identify instructional models that support a student-centered learning experience, such as the flipped classroom, applied learning, and teamwork
  • Apply intentional and thoughtful instructional strategies to engage students in service of your course learning outcomes

Description: How will you design the student learning experience to support their achievement of the course learning outcomes? In this session, we will consider evidence-based instructional models and strategies that support student-centered learning. This session builds off Workshops 1 & 2 to help you determine the appropriate instructional approaches to help students achieve your course outcomes based on your assessment plan.

Workshop 4: Build Community: Establish an Inclusive Learning Environment for Student Success

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the session, participants will be able to…

  • Distinguish the concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice from each other using the concept of the DIEJ spectrum 
  • Explain how the implementation of UDL strategies can further student achievement of course learning outcomes 
  • Select strategies to make your course(s) more inclusive, equitable, accessible, and/or just 

Description: How will you create an engaging, collaborative, and accessible learning environment that supports students’ achievement of the course learning outcomes? In this session, we will consider how to use Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles to promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice (DIEJ) within our classrooms. We will investigate how intentionally accessible course design increases engagement and deepens learning for all students. This session ties together the material addressed in the three prior workshops and enables you to complete your course plan with aligned outcomes, assessments, and learning activities, through an equity and justice-focused pedagogical lens.