Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



To Improve the Academy, published by the Professional and Organizational

Development Network in Higher Education, volume 16, 1997.


Faculty developers must help faculty shift from a teaching paradigm to a learning paradigm. Workshops that help faculty plan the "assignment-centered" course are a productive approach to that challenge. This article shows faculty developers how to plan and lead such a workshop. Research suggests that faculty often focus on content and coverage in their course planning. To combat this tendency, the workshop leads faculty through the course-planning process. In the workshop, faculty first develop learning objectives, then plan the assignments and exams that will both teach and test the essential skills and knowledge of the course. Then faculty choose and organize their instructional methods and the use of in-class and out-of-class time to maximize the development of the most important knowledge and skills. This approach contrasts with the text-lecture-coverage-centered course, in which the teacher concentrates first on the topics she or he will cover. The assignment-centered course is one of the strategies that research suggests will enhance students' critical thinking in higher education.