Designing Instruction

Effective instructional design is critical to successful teaching. Our instructors have many important design considerations to manage and develop prior to teaching.

Creating a student-centered syllabus

The structural emphasis of syllabi has transformed many times in higher education; however, more and more scholars have recently begun to focus on creating a student-centered syllabus. Students learn how they will learn, how they are expected to be engaged in the course, and how they will work with the instructor toward the meeting of learning goals and objectives. A well-written syllabus serves not only as a course outline, but also as a guide for students' learning, and as a tool for communication between the instructor and the students. You can find an extensive guide on syllabi at

Please make sure that the following items are included in every syllabus:

  • Prefix, Number, Section
  • Title
  • Credits
  • Instructors' information
  • Course Description, including prerequisites
  • Required Text and Materials
  • Course Goals and Objectives
  • Course Content (Outline)
  • Assignments
  • Course Requirements
  • Assessments
  • Evaluation and Grading
  • Bibliography
  • Library Resources and Services: How to obtain materials from the UNC libraries, and how the process differs for distance students. (Refer to the University Library section for more instruction)
  • Student Satisfaction Evaluation
  • Disability Accommodation Statement. Please make sure that every syllabus contains the Students With Disabilities statement: "Any students requesting disability accommodation for the class must inform the instructor, giving appropriate notice. Students are encouraged to contact Disability Support Office at (970) 351-2289 to certify documentation of disability and to ensure appropriate accommodations are implemented in a timely manner."
  • Academic Conduct/ Student Conduct (Please refer to the Dean of Students Office at for Student Conduct information.)

Writing learning objectives

Instructors should include Learning Objectives (LO) statements, which constitute the achievements expected from students upon completion of the course. Learning Objective statements create a measurable and justifiable platform from which to assess a student's attainment of necessary knowledge and skills. A clear and well-written learning objective enables instructors to design activities that will support and align with the students' achievement goals. A well-written learning objective gives students a clear understanding of what they are going to learn and how they are going to be engaged and assessed.

Aligning critical elements for your courses

In inserting critical elements in courses, instructors should allow the learning objectives to drive the alignment of those facets of the instruction. The use of assessment, course activities, materials, and other course considerations should always be subordinate to and support the learning objectives.

To learn more about the strategies of designing effective instruction, faculty members are encouraged to contact the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at (970) 351-2885 or Instructional Design and Development staff (970) 351-2944.