Inaugural Course Design Institute a Success

The CIT Course Design Institute  (CDI) provided Duke faculty the opportunity to learn and apply a best-practice approach to designing dynamic, learning-focused courses in any discipline, in a compact 3-day program consisting of interactive seminars, discussions, and presentations from guest speakers. Faculty applied and those selected received support and funding to attend.

The inaugural institute was held Aug. 14 – 16, 2017. CIT welcomed 10 faculty who worked over a 3-day period to draft their course plan and syllabus for a course they plan to teach in the upcoming academic year. At the institute, participants were able to connect with other Duke faculty across disciplines who shared similar teaching interests, and receive feedback from their peers.

Pictured, left to right: Top row: Eric Mlyn, Zbigniew J. Kabala, Melissa Watt, David Carson, Nicole Barnes. Second row: Linda Daniel, Leila Bridgeman, Don Bradley. Bottom row: Genevieve Lipp, Satya Achanta.

In keeping with the course design model and process referenced in Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College courses, the CDI was structured thematically, focusing first on learning objectives, developing assessments aligned with those objectives that foster deep learning, and on the final day developing teaching activities. On all three days, participants heard from guest speakers and a faculty panel on effective teaching pedagogies, such as team-based learning, inclusive teaching, and active learning.

Faculty Feedback

Faculty provided the following comments on how the CDI provided value and impact to their course design and development:

“The CDI allowed me to benefit from the expertise of CIT staff to design a new course I am teaching.  It also facilitated my meeting other faculty from a wide variety of disciplines who think seriously about their teaching.  I recommend this to both new and experienced faculty – really anyone who wants to think in new and exciting ways about their teaching.”
– Eric Mlyn, Public Policy

This year’s CDI helped me to rethink my entire approach to teaching and reaffirm my commitment to creating life-changing learning experiences for my students. And thanks to all of you for a wonderful CDI! It was a great success for your first time, and I appreciate you bringing it to Duke! I’m really happy to know about the CIT and all the wonderful resources you can offer.
– Nicole Barnes, History

The Course Design Institute was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my teaching, develop new skills and strategies, and connect with faculty across campus. I now have a better understanding of the resources offered by CIT, and look forward to using those to improve my courses. I am going into the new semester feeling very inspired.
– Melissa Watt, Duke Global Health Institute

It was truly energizing to spend productive time with instructors from varied disciplines. It made the experience more creative, and I received high-quality feedback on issues I hadn’t considered. – Genevieve Lipp, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Genevieve Lipp

Even though I’ve been teaching for 25+ years, I learned a lot. I found the curriculum to be a nice refresher and, often, an eye opener. Particularly useful were outcome-oriented syllabus design, objective grading through rubrics, active learning principles, networking opportunities, and much, much more. Highly recommended for newbies as well as old-timers.
– Z. J. Kabala, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering

CDI faculty participate in active learning exercises

“I greatly benefitted from the discussions about how to effectively engage students in active learning, create assessments that allow students to reflect on their progress, and how to write learning objectives that focus on what I would like for the students to learn from my class.  In addition, it was an engaging group of faculty from a variety of departments and I learned a lot from their questions and experiences. I am sure my teaching will improve as a result of my participation in the Course Design Institute.”
– Linda Daniel, Duke Libraries

Tours and Guest Speakers

The institute also included tours of the Multimedia Project Studio (MPS), the Technology Engagement Center (TEC), the TWP Writing Studio, the Duke Link,  the Data and Visualization Services lab, and a lightning round demonstration of tools and resources available to faculty including Duke Capture Mobile, PebblePad, Duke Extend, and iClicker.

Participants heard from the following faculty:

Alyssa Perz, Assistant Dean of Trinity College, and lecturer in Biology presented a workshop on teaching strategies to cultivate classroom equity and inclusion, titled “Student heterogeneity:  What do you need to consider as you design your course?”

Joan Clifford, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Romance Studies, and Cary Moskovitz, Associate Professor of the Practice, Thompson Writing Program presented on teaching using writing, service learning, and multimedia projects.

Denise Comer, Associate Professor of the Practice, Thompson Writing Program, Steve Wallace, Instructor, Biomedical Engineering and Len White, Associate Professor in Neurology,  spoke on effective teaching activities they have found successful in meeting learning outcomes for their students.


Each participant received a copy of the book Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L. Dee Fink, and a set of course design resources for use after the Institute, as well as information on technology and academic support resources available at Duke. Below is a list of participants and their department affiliation. We look forward to connecting with them again in a follow-up event in October, 2017.

  • Satya Achanta – D.V.M., Ph.D., Associate in Research, Anesthesiology
  • Nicole Barnes – Ph.D., Assistant Professor, History
  • Don Bradley, M.D. , Associate Consulting Professor, Community and Family Medicine
  • Leila Bridgeman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (beginning Jan. 2018)
  • David Carlson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Linda L. Daniel, MSLS,  Head, Social Sciences Section and Coordinator of Duke University Libraries Support for the Duke Kunshan Library
  • Zbigniew J Kabala, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Genevieve Lipp, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Eric Mlyn, Ph.D., Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage and the Assistant Vice Provost for Civic Engagement, and Lecturer, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Melissa Watt, Ph.D., Associate Professor of the Practice, Global Health

The CDI was led by Amy Kenyon, Sophia Stone, Elise Mueller, and Seth Anderson. If you would like additional information on future Course Design Institutes, contact CIT.

CIT Faculty Connections and Programs

Course Design Resources