How to write a course profile

A short guide to preparing
Course Profiles
Duncan D Nulty
© Duncan D Nulty, 2005. Apart from fair dealing as permitted by the copyright law of
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Outline of this session
Intro to GU course profiles
Intro to Curriculum Design
Step by step through
preparing a course profile
(for Course Profile System technical guide refer to
Questions and discussion
© Duncan D Nulty
How do I
write a course
The Course Profile System
Stipulates the elements a course profile
should contain
 Presents them in a progressive and logical
 Helps you to present a succinct course
curriculum design
• which helps you with your teaching and,
• helps learners with their learning
 So, what about curriculum design?
© Duncan D Nulty
Linear Curriculum
Desired Learning Outcomes
Griffith Graduate Attributes
(Discipline knowledge and skills
+ generic skills)
Organisation & Teaching
1. Your teaching team (esp. you)
2. Your Students
3. Your Teaching Environment
Texts &
Supporting Materials
© Duncan D Nulty
Relational Curriculum Design?
Desired Learning Outcomes
(incl. resources)
Teaching & Learning
© Duncan D Nulty
The Course Rationale or
Provides reasons for the course
Captures the whole point of the course
Justifies the course
States the real world need for the course
(~the value this course has for society)
Is the single most important aspect
(partly) informs all your choices regarding the
design and delivery of the course.
© Duncan D Nulty
A good rationale
Includes words like "need" or
 Takes the form:
Professionals in this area do certain things.
Doing these things well requires certain
knowledge, understanding and skill.
Leads directly to an aim of the form:
This course aims to meet the
needs/requirements identified in the rationale.
© Duncan D Nulty
Example 1:
In order for business to operate successfully in
today's global market place, its practitioners will
need to become knowledgeable about aspects of
the international business environment.
 Aim: This course aims to make you knowledgeable
about relevant aspects of the international business
© Duncan D Nulty
Example 2:
Students wishing to be employed in the
hospitality industry in Japan will need to have a
thorough understanding of and fluency in
appropriate terms of address in Japanese.
 Aim: This course aims to develop your
understanding of and fluency in appropriate
terms of address in Japanese.
© Duncan D Nulty
Example 3:
The effective implementation of programs and
policies in early childhood education requires
teachers to have sound knowledge of current
theory and research in early childhood
 Aim: This course aims to equip you with sound
knowledge of current theory and research in
early childhood development.
© Duncan D Nulty
Aims and Desired Learning
Outcomes (DLOs)
Aims are not the same as desired learning
… aims should relate to the combined impact of
the curriculum, the pedagogy and the
assessment of the various elements ...
… desired learning outcomes, … need to be
student oriented, and should point to the
knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes of
those students who successfully complete the
DLOs are referred to in the Course Profile
System as ‘Learning Objectives’.
© Duncan D Nulty
Aims and Objectives
So, aim statements are… broad and
all encompassing.  The big vision
 While, … desired learning outcomes
are specific, behavioural, studentfocussed statements.
© Duncan D Nulty
An alternative angle on aims and
desired learning outcomes/
Aims are what you want to achieve
desired learning outcomes are what
your students should achieve
© Duncan D Nulty
Example of the difference between aim and
desired learning outcomes Economics
The aim of this course is to
introduce you to fundamental
economic concepts and terminology
with a view to providing you with a
clearer understanding of the
workings of the national and
international economy.
© Duncan D Nulty
Example continued … DLOs/
Learning Objectives
Upon the successful completion of this course, you will:
be aware of key institutions that operate in the Australian
economy, and the roles these institutions play;
have a clear understanding of the relationships between a
number of important macroeconomic and microeconomic
be able to identify, analyse, and understand the importance
of the key economic concepts and measures introduced in
this course;
be able to evaluate, critically, some of the economic policies
that aim to address contemporary economic problems.
© Duncan D Nulty
Note about DLOs/ Learning
You should NUMBER them (in the course profiling
systems the objectives are automatically numbered
as you enter them into the profile).
This will help you when you come to the assessment
section because you should state which DLOs/
Learning Objectives each item of assessment relates
You will need to map these in the new Course Profile
System to the Graduate Attributes (for more
information refer to
© Duncan D Nulty
Graduate Attribute/ Generic
In 2009 the University approved new Griffith Graduate
attributes as follows:
Knowledgeable and Skilled in their Disciplines
Effective Communicators and Team Members
Innovative and Creative, with Critical Judgement
Socially Responsible and Engaged in their Communities
Competent in Culturally Diverse and International Environments
for help designing course-level learning opportunities for
students to develop the Griffith Graduate attributes refer to
For help with using the new CPS to map graduate attributes
to course-level learning objectives refer to
© Duncan D Nulty
Alignment: Rationale
DLOs/ Learning Objectives
Your rationale should be directly
aligned with your aim and your aim
should be directly aligned with your
DLOs/ Learning Objectives - each
element should lead to or relate to
the next - and to each other.
© Duncan D Nulty
Content, Organisation and
Teaching Strategies
All I can say about your choice of
content is:
 Make sure it relates to the rationaleaim-objectives
 Make sure it takes your teaching
context into account. (Where context
includes:Your students; Your;
environment; Your teaching team including you)
© Duncan D Nulty
Your Teaching Strategy
Choose your methods of teaching with a strategy for helping
students' learning in mind. Ensure that there is alignment
between your rationale, aims, DLOs/ Learning Objectives,
choice of content, and context:
If this is what I am trying to achieve, and this is the content that is
relevant, and this is my context, what strategy can I have for my teaching
that will lead to the learning outcomes I want?
The Course Profile System requires you to map the Teaching
and Learning Strategies/ activities directly to the DLOs/
Learning Objectives (for more information refer to
© Duncan D Nulty
Your Teaching Strategy's Theory
Think also about the theory behind
your strategy.
Ask yourself:
If this is my strategy what is it about it
that makes me think it should work?
© Duncan D Nulty
Students' perceptions of your
teaching strategy
AND... think about your students' perceptions of
your teaching strategy.
Ask yourself:
Will it be obvious to the students why I am using
this strategy? Will they understand how it should
work? Can they always see the connection
between what they are doing and the point or
significance of what they are doing?
© Duncan D Nulty
Constructive approach:
Whenever teaching, you should try
 build upon the students’ prior
 take a constructive approach;
 seek a progression from content
knowledge, to understanding, to
© Duncan D Nulty
The 3 stage learning model
(Traffic Light Model)
© Duncan D Nulty
And lastly… Assessment
It's unfortunate that people think of assessment last when:
 it should be an integral part of your teaching strategy (in a
sense, it is a teaching method)
it should relate directly to your rationale+aim+DLOs/
Learning Objectives (and can therefore be used as a
validity check on your overall design)
The Course Profile System asks you to map assessment to
Learning Objectives directly (for more information refer to
© Duncan D Nulty
Before choosing your
assessment methods, ask:
What forms of assessment will help the students to acquire,
assimilate, transform, understand and apply the material?
How can I structure different assessments to support the
whole process?
When should I require assessments to be conducted to
maximise learning and feedback (to both students and
Advice about assessment of the Graduate Attributes is
covered in each of the toolkits provided at
© Duncan D Nulty
Some assessment principles
Assessment should provide feedback to
your students and to you
Assessment should relate to the
rationale+aim+DLOs of the course
Assessment should be constructive (start
small and build)
Assessment should provide equity of
© Duncan D Nulty
Using assessment as a
curriculum validity check. Ask:
Does the assessment relate directly to the DLOs/
Learning Objectives?
 If the assessment includes items not in the
objectives check the objectives. If they are ok
then modify the assessment, if not then modify
the objectives.
 If the assessment misses items in the objectives
check the objectives. If they are ok then modify
the assessment, if not then modify the
© Duncan D Nulty
A good assessment section:
Types of assessment (eg Essay)
Weight given (if summative)
Due Dates(eg Due by Friday Week 5 at 4.00pm)
Brief description of each task (eg You will need to write a 2500 word
essay on a topic to be chosen from a list of 5 possibilities which you will be provided
with in week 4. The essay will allow you to develop and demonstrate your written
communication skills and your understanding of the issues in your chosen topic. You
will be given constructive feedback on the essay before you have to undertake the
following item of assessment.)
State which of your DLOs/ Learning Objectives this item of
assessment relates to (the Course profile system does this
Uses student focussed language throughout.
NB. The Course Profile System structures the provision of this information explicitly (for
more information refer to
© Duncan D Nulty
Assessment: essentials
Formative and summative assessment
© Duncan D Nulty
Formative assessment
Formative assessment is where the
assessment is used solely for the
purpose of providing the students
with feedback that will guide their
 It helps students to "form".
 It is in-form-ative.
 It provides in-form-ation.
© Duncan D Nulty
Summative Assessment
Summative assessment is where
assessment is used solely for the
purpose of contributing to, or
determining, students' final grades.
 It sum-marises.
 It sums up.
© Duncan D Nulty
In reality...
… assessment usually combines the two:
 usually all tasks that are assessed result
in some marks that count towards the
final grade
 usually all tasks provide the student with
some guidance on why they got the mark
they did and how they could get a better
© Duncan D Nulty
Texts and supporting materials
If there are texts that students must
have to study the course then
separate these out from the rest of
your list.
 The Course Profile System has a
section to record course resource
requirements (for more information refer to
© Duncan D Nulty
Further Support and Policies at
Help, Advice and Support
 (GIHE Graduate
file/0010/197794/course-profiles.pdf (Course Profile
System Workbook)
GU policy library:
© Duncan D Nulty
Comments/Suggestions/ Questions?
You can contact me.
Phone: +617 3735 6813
[email protected]
In person: Room 4.11b, Block M10, GIHE,
Griffith University, Mount Gravatt

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