Course Design for HE Instructors:

A Workbook Applying Educational Theories, Principles, and Practices


The primary purpose of this site is to provide worksheets to help higher education (HE) instructors design, develop, deliver, and evaluate a higher education (HE) course, applying the appropriate research at the appropriate time. A brief introduction to some of the most important theories, principles, and practices is included under units A, B, and C. The Workbook unit will take you to a series of ideas and worksheets to guide you through your course development and teaching throughout your term.

The workbook is based on an instructional design and delivery model called Instructional Design for Instructors (IDI) developed specifically for HE instructors.

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What is this site?

A Workbook That Applies Educational Theories, Principles, and Practices

This site provides higher education instructors with a set of worksheets to develop a pedagogically-sound course, as well as basic information about many educational theories, principles, and practices. In addition, the worksheets include many of the administrative functions, such as selecting texts and determining how the course fits within the program. While the worksheets can be used without reading the rest of the site, you may find the other units useful in understanding why you should consider various concepts. The practical consideration of learning philosophies, motivational strategies, student epistemological and metacognitive stages, etc. will help you understand why students have difficulties with various topics. The application of principles such as defining learning outcomes and the social-cultural impacts on learning will support sound decision making on approaches and methods of teaching. The common teaching practices, such as structuring the first day to ensure students know what to expect, selecting technologies to support the course methods, and managing group work, will help instructors maximize student learning. While many books provide instructors with theories and principles, and a few with practical teaching practices, the worksheets here result in a complete, practical application of these.

Overviews of Important Teaching & Course Design Theories, Principles, & Practices

The chapters in Units A, B, & C include overviews of some of the considerations for designing and teaching higher education courses. Unit W provides details to step you through course design, development, teaching, and reviewing using these theories as well as some administrative concerns.

Because this is specifically focused on using worksheets to develop a course, not all higher education theories, principles, and practices are detailed in the chapters. Furthermore, entire books have been written about each chapter that I have included, such as Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction (Mager, 1997), Principles of Instructional Design (Gagné et al., 2005), and Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (Fink, 2013). Other authors have provided significant detail about theories of teaching, such as Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (Ormrod et al., 2019) and The Adult Learner (Knowles et al., 2020), and teaching practices such as McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014) and The Online Teaching Survival Guide (Boettcher, 2021).

This site introduces many of the major considerations for college and university instructors, with references to articles, websites, and books providing more detail. To provide more than an introduction to these topics would not only make this massive and unwieldy, but also detract from the main purpose, which is to provide you with suggestions and worksheets that will help you develop a sound course. References to more complete works are included in each chapter.


This Website has four units:

A. Theories

Here you will find overviews of some of the major theories involved in HE learning and teaching.

B. Principles

In this unit are principles for teaching and learning, designing courses, and designing lesson plans.

C. Practices

Here are some of the most common practices in teaching, such as writing a syllabus and arranging group work.

W. Workbook

This includes instructions to design, develop and deliver your course with worksheets for each step in the model.

Site Outcomes & Objectives

At the end of reading this site, we will be able to:

  • Determine appropriate active and transformative learning goals for course
    • Determine course goals based on program and course requirements
    • Determine potential additional goals based on expected student metacognition, schema & threshold concepts
    • Identify inclusivity and diversity goals
    • Demonstrate belief in the need for inclusivity
    • Demonstrate sensitivity towards individual and cultural differences (values diversity)
    • Display an appreciation for student concerns
    • Be aware of student struggles with metacognition, threshold concepts, and epistemological challenges
    • Display a commitment to inclusive practice in course design and teaching
  • Understand the role of learning theories in teaching and learning and how these can be support student learning
    • Design course elements (activities, assignments, class outlines) that apply learning theories
    • Use theories of feedback when reviewing student work
    • Apply motivation and cognitive load theories when teaching
    • Help students overcome cognitive load issues
  • Apply ID principles
  • Identify appropriate levels and taxonomies for each goal
  • Apply learning theories to develop course outcomes and objectives
  • Use principles of learning and teaching to maximize student involvement and meet course lesson objectives
  • Identify a course structure (problem-based, flipped, lecture, etc.)
  • Apply appropriate level of competency requirements in assessments
  • Identify teaching techniques required specific to the course design
    • Develop a syllabus to support course design courses
    • Develop activities and assignments to support course outcomes and objectives
    • Design a first-day class outline that applies learning theories and sets student expectations
    • Identify course activities, readings, and assessments to support the learning outcomes
    • Identify appropriate technologies
    • Develop group work design and assignments
    • Check for student understanding and underlying concerns that impact student learning
    • Create course improvement tools
  • Use the IDI model and worksheets to develop and teach course based on all other objectives

The result of using the IDI model and worksheets presented in Unit W is a complete, well-designed, developed, and taught course.


Many topics in this site have multiple books written specifically about them. The descriptions included here are brief summaries and therefore do not capture every expert’s opinion and consideration. The chapters in Units A, B, and C are also not in an order that might occur to many. This should not be interpreted as priority/importance.


Boettcher, J. V. (2021). The Online Teaching Survival Guide (3rd edition). Jossey-Bass.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (Revised and updated edition). Jossey-Bass.

Gagné, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K., & Keller, J. M. (2005). Principles of Instructional Design (5th ed). Thomson/Wadsworth.

Knowles, M. S., III, E. F. H., Swanson, R. A., Robinson, P. A., & SWANSON, R. (2020). The Adult Learner (9th edition). Routledge.

Mager, R. F. (1997). Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction (3 edition). Center for Effective Performance.

Ormrod, J. E., Anderman, E. M., & Anderman, L. H. (2019). Educational Psychology: Developing learners (10e ed.). PRENTICE HALL.

Svinicki, M. D., & McKeachie, W. J. (2014). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (Fourteenth edition). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.