Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Course Planning

Using teaching and learning frameworks like Backward Design, instructors can develop courses aligned with student learning outcomes. Instructors can next consider and integrate any course activities and assessments that support student attainment of these outcomes, informed by the abilities charted in Bloom’s Taxonomy. This information, in addition to general course items and expectations, can be clearly communicated on the syllabus.

The syllabus is a foundational document and a critical piece of communication between instructor and student that warrants thoughtful design. As the syllabus is often the first form of interaction that instructors have with their students, it plays a significant role in engaging students and motivating learning. Research indicates that more engaging, visually stimulating, student-centered syllabi have a positive impact on student perceptions of a course and motivation to engage with the instructor.
Bloom’s Taxonomy categorizes skills that students are expected to learn as a result of instruction. Originally published in 1956, the tool is named after Benjamin Bloom, who was the Associate Director of the Board of Examinations at the University of Chicago. Now a classic arrangement of intellectual skills, the taxonomy and its revisions can be used to develop effective learning outcomes.
Teaching and learning frameworks are research-informed models for course design that help instructors align learning goals with classroom activities, create motivating and inclusive environments, and integrate assessment into learning. Frameworks like Backward Design serve as conceptual maps for planning or revising any course, syllabus, or lesson, and can be easily adapted and mixed.
Learning outcomes can be defined as the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities that the instructor intends for students to learn or develop. Outcomes are more specific than learning goals, which take a 10,000-foot view of what an instructor desires for students to gain from a course. Research suggests that when they are well written, clear, and measurable, learning outcomes can improve learning and motivate student engagement.