Developing an undergraduate course provides opportunity to develop skills in instructional design

by Julie Dodd

The major assignment in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930) is to develop an undergraduate communications course — creating a syllabus, lesson plans, instructional materials, and an assessment tool.

Creating, modifying and updating courses is an important part of university teaching. So this assignment helps you develop instructional design abilities.

The first step is determining what course to develop.

Should you select to develop your materials for an already existing course or a new course?

For the purposes of this class assignment, you either may decide to develop your own version of an existing course or you may develop a new course.

Existing course
Check the websites of communications programs that you are interested in and see what courses are part of their undergraduate curriculum. [Such courses include media writing, research methods, survey of mass communication, etc.] If a course is required, the program needs to offer that course regularly, meaning that the program needs faculty who can teach the course. If you can demonstrate that you are familiar with the course and have developed curriculum for the course, that could make you more marketable on the job market.

If you chose to create your own version of an existing course, you will need to demonstrate that you have made the course your own and aren’t just taking all your ideas from the syllabi and course materials that you find online.

New course
The key in developing a new course is determining that such a course would be of interest to programs you are applying to for a faculty job. You will need to develop a pitch to explain the value of adding the course to the curriculum.

Prior to 2013, getting a new course adopted into an accredited communications program was a challenge. The Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Communications’ accrediting standards allowed students to take only 36 hours  of communications courses. The changed accrediting standards, implemented in 2013, now allow students to take 48 hours of communications courses. That change has enabled colleges to add more courses, both required and elective, to their offerings.

The next step is to complete the course proposal templatecourse_proposal_template

Developing such a written proposal models the process that you would follow if you were proposing a new course. The process of having a new course adopted includes several steps — discussion with department chair, approval by departmental curriculum committee/department, approval by College Curriculum Committee, and approval by the University Curriculum Committee. We’ll talk about that process in class.

Bring a printed copy of your course proposal to class on Sept. 14 for small group discussion and then to turn in.

To learn more about the next steps in creating your undergraduate communications course, read a previous post — “Creating undergraduate course materials to demonstrate best practices.”


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