How to Create a College Course

by Jared Lewis

One of the joys of teaching at college level is the opportunity to create a course in your area of specialization. College professors often teach survey courses as a regular part of their teaching duties, but many also teach upper-division courses in more specialized areas of study. For instance, history professors may teach a course in sports history or women's history in addition to teaching U.S. history survey courses. Creating a course requires extensive planning and a high level of organization.

Create a course proposal to be reviewed by the department head or committee in charge of curriculum decisions at your school. Each school will have its own procedures for formally establishing a course before making it available to students and including it in the course catalog. Write an effective course description that provides a basic overview of the course material that will be covered in one semester. Submit your proposal to the appropriate faculty members.

Write a list of course objectives and outcomes that students should be able to meet by taking the course. This will help you determine which textbooks to select and what your lecture topics should be. It will also play a role in determining what types of assessments you will use to measure student success in the course.

Select the required textbooks for the course as well as any other material that students may be required to purchase in preparation for class sessions. Review the texts to determine how you will use each one in the course and where it will fit into the course schedule.

Examine the calendar in relation to the course content to determine a schedule for the course. For example, if you have three textbooks and all three equal 1,600 pages of total reading, then over a 16-week course you should try to cover approximately 100 pages per week. Create a schedule to include in your syllabus.

Write the course syllabus based on the textbooks that will be used, your lectures and the course objectives you have established in the course proposal. The syllabus should include a comprehensive course schedule, the course objectives, information regarding the types of assessments that will be required (exams, quizzes, papers, etc.), your contact information and any required institutional statements that your college may require in all of its syllabi.

Write your course lectures. Although you may have old lecture notes or research that you want to use for the course, it is a good idea to at least review the material to ensure that it is properly suited for the class you are creating. Writing new lectures as you go is also another option. This will keep the material fresh in your mind and up-to-date.

About the Author

Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.

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