Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Design & Teach a Course

Consider Timing and Logistics

Below is a rough timeline of things to consider when planning a course. The precise timing depends on whether the course is new or has been offered before, how much time you have to prepare, departmental differences, and individual preference. Although this timeline is not exhaustive or relevant to every course, it is a general guide for standard courses.

Long term:

  • Consider where your course fits into the department/major's curricular goals and course sequences
  • Determine the broad goals of your course
  • Find out enrollment and student demographics
  • Order textbooks and other required materials
  • Ask about/negotiate for TAs (if necessary)

Middle term:

  • Revisit where your course fits into the department/major's curricular goals and course sequences
  • Articulate learning objectives for course
  • Determine the number of class days/hours and identify holidays
  • Identify appropriate readings, films, music, slides, websites, etc.
  • Determine the nature of assignments and activities
  • Consider logistics of collecting and returning student work
  • Organize guest speakers and field trips (if necessary)
  • Ensure the alignment of objectives, assessments, and instructional activities
  • Create a calendar of activities (e.g., topics, sequence, due-dates)
  • Write a tentative syllabus
  • Put readings on reserve (if necessary)
  • Request a Course Management System site (if necessary)
  • Reserve computer clusters and arrange to install required software (if necessary)
  • Check into departmental administrative support (e.g., help with copying, space to meet with students, space to store materials)

Short term:

  • Get your roster (including a photo roster, if available) and reevaluate course plan in light of enrollment and student demographics
  • Revise syllabus
  • Check status of orders for books, other required materials, and reserves
  • Begin to populate your Course Management System site (if necessary)
  • Meet with TAs (if necessary)
  • Visit classroom