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Module Course Design

Module Course Design is probably the most common approach instructors utilize to organize their course.
It is a course design framework that:

  • Segments learning into meaningful 'chunks'
  • These segments are typically self-contained
  • Often based on text book chapters or topic/content units
  • Is highly structured in flow and/or sequence
    • Examples range from broad to specific and simple to complex
    • Modules can be formatted to meet the learning interests and needs of the students
  • Focuses on key topics, concepts, problems, case studies, etc. within each module
    • Each module builds on the previous skills, knowledge and capabilities to progress learners toward threshold concepts/goals

Module Course Design Framework

  1. Goals/objectives and overview
    • Purpose and expected outcomes
    • Prerequisites are identified
  2. Readings and other information sources
    • Includes - lecture notes, powerpoints, websites, textbook chapter(s), articles, graphics, videos, etc.
  3. Practice, application, and analysis
    • Includes - discussions, assignments, group activities, sharing of information, creative efforts, etc.
  4. Reflection
    • Typically facilitated via discussions, self-evaluations, verbal/written summaries
  5. Assessment
    • Includes - tests, quizzes, written assignments, debates, creations, demonstrations, peer observations, E-Portfolio additions, etc.
  6. Feedback
    • Identifies progression toward module goals, grading of assessment tasks, etc.

Key Design Principles

Critical to an effective Module Course Design is the flow or sequencing of each module.
Each module is a step toward meeting the stated course goals/threshold concepts. Therefore, assessment activities should always build on skills, knowledge and capabilities from previous modules.

The instructor is the primary:

  • Provider of content and course structure
  • Primary assessor, but can also incorporate peer assessment


  • Are primarily consumers of information
  • Need
    • To know the relevance of the course material and experiences
    • Context to increase meaningfulness and purpose

Typically the flow or sequence will:

  • Progress from broad to specific or simple to complex
  • Based on a broad concept, idea, capability that builds on previous learning
  • Include either class or smaller group reviews of what has been learned


  • A key advantage of the module design is that students can work on each module at their own pace/time
  • This is especially applicable if much of the course and course correspondence can be facilitated via the web, typically a course management system

Course Design Process

  • Identify the threshold concepts skills, goals, and knowledge for the course
  • Determine assessment strategies
  • Identify modules, module length(s), and module sequence
    • Identify ways to individualize student engagement and learning opportunities
    • Analogies, contextualization of information and practical experiences can all greatly assist learners
  • Determine readings, activities, experiences that will help students attain threshold concepts, skills, knowledge
    • Provide a variety of resource formats (e.g. video, infographics, diagrams, graphs, animation, audio, etc.) to increase student engagement


May 26, 2022