Teach the Earth > Course Design > Course Design Tutorial > Table of contents > Part 1 index > Ancillary skills

If you have dropped into this Course Design Tutorial from somewhere else, you might wish to start at the introduction, overview, or table of contents. If you are working through the tutorial, you should have completed Part 1.2 before beginning this section.

Part 1.3 Setting ancillary skills goals


Start by downloading the worksheet (Microsoft Word 52kB May23 05) that goes with this part, and use it for this section.


In this section of the tutorial, we will ask you to think about the kinds of ancillary skills that you would like to have your students improve on during your course. Ancillary skills might include:

  • writing
  • quantitative skills
  • 3-D visualization
  • self-teaching
  • peer teaching
  • oral presentation
  • working in teams/groups
  • critically assessing information on the Internet
  • accessing and reading the professional literature

Guidelines for setting ancillary skills goals

  • What ancillary skills are important to you in the context of your course?
  • Which of those ancillary skills are important enough that you are willing to provide timely feedback and repeated practice so that students actually improve their skills?
    • Take writing for example. Writing comments on an end-of-term paper is not a very effective strategy for improving student writing. Very few students do more than look at the grade. Improving student writing skills requires writing, feedback, incentive to apply comments to another assignment, more writing, more feedback, and so on.
    • For students to improve in any skill, they must have more than one or two opportunities to practice a skill, plus receive feedback while the activity is still fresh in their minds and before they have another opportunity to practice.
    • Be realistic. You can't do everything and still address the content of the course. Choose one or two ancillary skills to work on, and be diligent about integrating them from the beginning to the end of the semester.
    • Know yourself. If you are someone who lets ungraded student work pile up for weeks and then grades a whole lot in a flurry, either commit to a personality change or decide not to set a skills goal that requires feedback before the next assignment!

As you think about ancillary skills goals, you might want to browse the following Cutting Edge, Starting Point, and SERC sites for ideas about how to address skills in your courses. Here are some highlight links:



Task 1.3: Set one or two ancillary skills goals for your course.

Be sure that you are willing to provide timely feedback and repeated practice in the course. Use the worksheet to record your ancillary skills goals.


Once you have written the ancillary skills goals, Go to Part 1.4 Choosing content to achieve overarching goals.


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©2005 On-line Course Design Tutorial developed by Dr. Barbara J. Tewksbury (Hamilton College) and Dr. R. Heather Macdonald (College of William and Mary) as part of the program On the Cutting Edge, funded by NSF grant DUE-0127310.

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