Initial Publication Date: December 13, 2011

Pursuing an Academic Career Virtual Event Series

Setting goals for effective and innovative courses: April 10, 2012

Note: This webinar has already taken place. See the References, resources, and the presentation from this virtual event.

1:30 pm Eastern | 12:30 pm Central | 11:30 am Mountain | 10:30 am Pacific (1.5 hrs)

Leader: Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College

Registration deadline: April 3, 2012

A key component to teaching effective courses is to develop goals that enable students, at an appropriate level, to think for themselves in the discipline. In this workshop, you will learn to develop goals that focus your course on developing students' abilities to think for themselves and solve problems in the discipline while still addressing mastery of content. The presenter, Barb Tewksbury, has extensive experience helping faculty to develop courses and goals. During the webinar, we will have time for questions, reflection, and discussion. We hope you will join us!

Jump down to: References, resources, and the presentation from this virtual event

Goals for participants are to:

  • Articulate course context when developing goals
  • Differentiate between teacher-focused and student-focused goals
  • Consider the value of setting concrete goals involving higher order thinking skills with measurable outcomes
  • Reflect on examples of overarching and ancillary goals
  • Begin to set goals for courses they plan to teach

Time - 1:30 pm Eastern | 12:30 pm Central | 11:30 am Mountain | 10:30 am Pacific (1.5 hrs)
Duration - 1.5 hours
Format - Online web presentation via Blackboard Collaborate web conference software with questions and discussion. Participants will receive an email with instructions detailing how to log into the event approximately one week prior to the event.
Registration - There is no registration fee, but registration is required to save a space. Space is limited to 80, so please be sure you can commit before registering. Registration closes when the spaces fill or April 3, 2012, whichever comes first. Please complete the registration form if you are interested and able to participate.
Preparation - Consider one course that you plan to teach. Write down the title of the course, who the students are, the size of the class, and the type of institution. With this context in mind, write down several things that you want your students to be able to do when they have finished your course.

Please email Rachel Beane (rbeane AT if you have any questions about this event or Monica Bruckner (mbruckne AT if you have technical questions.


Barbara Tewksbury is a professor of geoscience at Hamilton College. She has spoken widely and published on geoscience education issues and has played a leadership role in the national geoscience education community for over a decade. She has given dozens of workshops to faculty in departments across the country and has been co-PI on a number of grants to offer workshops for geoscience faculty (including On the Cutting Edge). She is a Past President of the American Geological Institute and a Past President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. She also served as President of the Geology Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research for three years. She is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and served as an elected member of the GSA Council.

References and Resources


Watch the Screencast (MP4 Video 126.5MB Apr10 12) recording of this webinar.

Setting goals for effective and innovative courses (PowerPoint 1.2MB Apr10 12) by Barb Tewksbury, Hamilton College. Slides presented at the April 10 virtual event.

Course Design:

  • Course Design Tutorial - This tutorial was developed as a web-only version of the popular On the Cutting Edge workshop on effective and innovative course design. While the workshop was originally designed for geoscience faculty, the tutorial provides examples from many disciplines, including those outside the sciences, and offers an easy-to-apply strategy for designing courses in any discipline. A synopsis of the tutorial is also available.
    • Course Goals and Syllabus Database- This database houses a growing collection of course descriptions and syllabi in the geosciences contributed by faculty who have attended the Cutting Edge workshop. The data base also provides access to several complete courses, including activities and assignments.
  • Early Career - Course Design - Effective teaching begins with effective course design, which takes advantage of the growing body of research about how people learn.
  • Teaching Methods from Pedagogy in Action - Over 50 pedagogic approaches; each is described succinctly so you can quickly understand how the technique might be relevant to your teaching. Written by fellow educators, these descriptions include tips for effectively using each technique, related research on their impacts on learning, as well as a set of example activities.
  • How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School a book by the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning with additional material from the Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, National Research Council


  • Understanding What our Geoscience Students are Learning: Observing and Assessing - Find activities for evaluating student learning, information on how to use different assessment methods in different learning environments, and information on researching teaching and learning.
  • Assessment Tools for the Affective Domain - Several assessment tools designed for measuring some aspect of the affective domain are listed on this page. For each assessment tool, you will find information about what is measured and how the author uses it. You will also find the tool itself.
  • Pedagogy in Action - Assessment Module - This website is the homepage for part of SERC's resource collection on assessment. This collection provides both basic and in-depth information about assessment and how to apply assessment techniques in the classroom.