Aug. 15, 2019

Improvements made to streamline course outlines

Changes will provide clarity for students, faculty and staff on course information
Course outlines improvements made
Improvements to course outlines will provide clarity for students, faculty and staff. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

At the beginning of a semester, the first place students look for information and support regarding their classes is in the course outline. Every course on campus is required to have a course outline that provides the overall structure and requirements of the course and informs students about the kinds of learning experiences they can expect.

Through feedback, it was discovered that the UCalgary calendar entry on course outlines caused some confusion about which information is required in the course outline, and how it can best be organized. A Teaching and Learning working group, led by Leslie Reid, vice-provost for teaching and learning, was struck to identify how the calendar entry for course outlines could be improved.

“Many course outlines seemed very long and extensive, sometimes 10 to 15 pages, and were sometimes not clearly highlighting the critical components unique to each course,” says Dr. Ellen Perrault, PhD, RSW, a teaching professor in the Faculty of Social Work who was part of the working group that streamlined information needed in the course outlines.

The Students’ Union was also involved in the consultations from the beginning, and had the opportunity to give feedback on these changes early on in the process, which identified many of the challenges and changes.

“Course outlines are an important resource for students. By requiring the inclusion of information about important resources such as how to access accommodations, students can more easily find the help they require,” says Kevin Dang, Students’ Union vice-president academic

“Additionally, by including important information about issues such as copyright, students can avoid mistakes that may negatively impact their experience at the University of Calgary,” he says.

What are the improvements?

  • Required items were grouped together into coherent themes.
  • Insertion of the phrase “if applicable” to clarify whether information is required if it is not directly relevant to a given course.
  • Creation of a web page that contains all student supports and resources so a link can be provided on course outlines instead of including each item. 
  • The updated course outline information can be found in the UCalgary calendar. The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning provides templates and resources to aid in the development of course outlines.

Resources to support course outline development

The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning provides templates and resources to aid in the development of course outlines, which have been updated to reflect the changes to the calendar entry.