Designing courses for student learning and interaction is an exciting project.  These resources support instructors as they build new syllabi, revisit and revise existing syllabi, or create learning activities in online or face-to-face environments.


The syllabus is our "educational promise" to the students as it tells them what we are learning in class and how the class will be managed.  Be sure to check out our latest syllabus template to be sure that your syllabus has the key components required at CBU.

Download the CBU Syllabus Template.

You will notice there is a section and some comments about online programs or behavior. Simply delete the sections that do not apply to your course.

Evaluating a Syllabus

The University of Virginia created, tested, and validated a syllabus evaluation tool that provides instructors with useful information about how well their syllabus provides clear, user-friendly information about the course.
Syllabus Rubric
Syllabus Rubric Scoring Sheet
Research study that validated the rubric

WSCUC (WASC) accreditation requires 45 hours of engaged learning time per unit for a course.  A typical course is 3 units, so there should be 135 hours of engaged learning time in that class.  Most classes have 42 hours of seat time (time in class) scheduled, so the other time comes from engaged learning activities in Blackboard.  

Use these tools to measure the activities in your course to see how close you are to the 135 hour requirement.

Student Engagement Hour Audit

Use this tool to track the activities and amount of time for each activity.

Time Audit Guidelines

This guide provides you with approximate times for many of the common activities we use.

Time Audit Reflections

This is a useful place to capture your thoughts about the audit and what next steps you might take.  These documents can be added to your annual portfolio as part of your teaching reflection.

Evaluating a Blackboard Course

This checklist includes best practices for constructing a Blackboard course that supports an in-person, face-to-face class. 

Course Design Worksheet

If you are interested in a more detailed planning structure for your course, the Course Design Worksheet (CDW) will meet that need.  The CDW will provide you with space to plan your critical assignment, the accompanying rubric, weekly objectives, weekly learning activities, and opportunities for faith integration.  Courses that are offered using Hybrid, HyFlex, or online modalities are required to have a completely built-out and approved CDW.  Face-to-face classes also benefit from a strong CDW as it helps instructors create a clear plan for student learning and success.

Download the Course Design Worksheet.

Blog on Course Design

Click here for the TLC blog entries on course design.

High Impact Practices

College courses often involve lectures and group discussions. And to assess learning, undergraduate courses typically rely on frequent quizzes and a final exam. While these widely used activities can be efficacious, consider delivering your course with one or more "High Impact Practices" (HIPs) (Kuh, 2008):

    1. Common Intellectual Experiences
    2. Learning Communities
    3. Service Learning
    4. First Year Seminar
    5. Internships
    6. Diversity, Global learning
    7. Capstone Projects
    8. Undergraduate Research
    9. Writing-intensive courses
    10. Collaborative assignments and projects
    11. e-Portfolios

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) takes note of HIPs because, compared to their peers, students who participate it at least one HIP are more engaged in their learning (Watson et al., 2016. p. 65) as measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Each of the HIPs above has one or more of the following characteristics (Kuh and O'Donnell, 2013, p. 10):

  • Exposure to diverse beliefs
  • Prompt feedback
  • Integration of learning across courses
  • Student-faculty interaction on meaningful content
  • Significant investment from students
  • High expectations of students
  • Demonstration of competence
  • Application to real life

In fact, some HIPs capture several or all of these characteristics. A capstone project, for example, may involve all of these.

See examples of each of these HIPs, and discover research on how they lead to student achievement.



  • Kuh, George D. (2008). High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter. American Association of Colleges & Universities.

  • Kuh, G. D., O’Donnell, K., & Reed, S. (2013). Ensuring Quality and Taking High-Impact Practices to Scale. Washington DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

  • Watson, C. E., Kuh, G. D., Rhodes, T., Light, T. P., and Chen, H. L. (2016). Editorial: ePortfolios: The eleventhhigh-impactpractice.International JournalofePortfolio,6(2),65-69.

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