Initial Publication Date: September 25, 2023

Quick Start Guide to Developing a Module

Project EDDIE modules use an evidence-based approach to teaching with data that engage students in the classroom to build knowledge and improve learning. There are more than 40 modules created by faculty, many of which have been classroom-tested and revised based on that testing and peer reviewed. The modules provide opportunities for your students to work with large, authentic environmental data and strengthen their quantitative reasoning. But, what if you want to create your own module following the EDDIE way and you don't know where to start?

This quick start guide is designed to walk you through the module development process: from backward design, to selecting datasets, to using the EDDIE module rubric to refine your module. Use this guide to help develop a module that follows the EDDIE guidelines and approaches. Once you have created your module and feel it is ready for use, consider contributing your activity to join other Project EDDIE community-contributed activities.

Background on Project EDDIE Earth & Ecosystems

The Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration (EDDIE) Project is a community of STEM disciplinary and education researchers. The project provides an effective pedagogical framework for teaching with large datasets. The module development process leads to effective and flexible inquiry-based teaching modules using large, publicly available datasets to improve quantitative reasoning. Topics currently span disciplines such as ecology, limnology, geology, hydrology, and environmental sciences. The project included numerous professional development events and recordings of webinars and virtual workshop materials are publicly available.

Before working on your own module, there is some useful background information that will help you create an EDDIE module and critically assess your work. Project EDDIE uses a formalized module development process and rubric. Read through the development process and review the rubric to help frame your module consistent with published EDDIE modules.

EDDIE RUBRIC version 05_21 (Acrobat (PDF) 81kB Jun7 21)

Module Pre-Work

Developing your Module

Now that you have read about the EDDIE module development process, reviewed the rubric, and completed the module pre-work, it is time to start putting together your module.

Assembling the module components

Each module should follow a similar format and include the same essential items:

  • Blank EDDIE module template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) PRIVATE FILE 19kB Aug17 23): The module template will eventually become the web page (module page) that supports your module.
  • EDDIE student handout template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) PRIVATE FILE 94kB Aug17 23): The student handout includes the overview and detailed activities the students will complete when they do the module.
  • EDDIE instructor guide template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) PRIVATE FILE 95kB Aug17 23): The instructor guide helps potential adopters or adapters understand how the module activities may work in their course. Strategies, time estimates, teaching tips, and necessary knowledge and/or skills are especially important. It's also helpful if the module author includes an answer key for the module. Instructor guides with answer keys can be made private and for educators only.
  • Instructor powerpoint with no copyright protected images
  • Version of the data that will be downloaded from the module web page (data file)

Designing your module with your audience in mind

Consider your students

Students come into your classes with preconceptions and they must have the opportunity to develop a conceptual framework that facilitates retrieval and builds on deep knowledge. A metacognitive approach helps students monitor their own learning and become better learners. Promising practices to support student learning include:

  • Developing (and using) learning outcomes
  • Engaging students in activities during class, in groups
  • Getting and giving feedback before major assessments
  • Creating a sense of belonging

What do you want your students to remember?

Most student are not going to remember everything in your course. Students learn when they are actively engaged and address real problems. The approach of EDDIE modules can help students engage with enduring concepts (e.g., disturbance, equilibrium), transfer knowledge, do statistical analyses critical to your field, and make environmental or equitable decisions based on quantitative reasoning

Backward design

Backward design is a strong pedagogical approach for developing course modules or activities where you start with the goals/outcomes and work backward to the activities. Use the following steps to think through the process and your module:

  • Identify desired results -- learning goals/outcomes
  • Confirm the goals/outcomes are achievable and measurable
  • Determine acceptable evidence that will demonstrate learning
  • Plan activities that produce learning
    • Use instructional strategies that foster engagement
    • Design activities that give students practice

Brainstorm the big picture

  • What concept do you want students to understand?
  • What is the overarching question that drives their investigation?
  • What data might the students use?
  • What does student success looks like?

Outlining your module

Now that you have thought more about your students, what you want them to learn, and how you might achieve (and assess) the outcomes, write an outline of the module. Make sure to include: the goals/outcomes, assessments, datasets, and questions/problems the students will consider.

The Blank EDDIE module template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) PRIVATE FILE 19kB Aug17 23) or EDDIE student handout template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) PRIVATE FILE 94kB Aug17 23) both have prompts to help craft your outline. To start, use whichever document you prefer. The blank module has many sections you will eventually fill in, but for now, skip these and stick with the outline (end of page 2) of the module. The student handout has fewer prompts and the outline section is on the first page.

Defining student success

At this point, you should have an outline for your module activities and a sense of what students will do. In a paragraph or bulleted list, write out what student success looks like for this module and how you will decide if students have had success. The blank module template has a prompt for this task. Also, consider consulting the EDDIE rubric, if helpful.

Drafting the student activities in the A-B-C format

For each activity, describe the steps students will do. The directions and questions in these activities should be clear. Make sure to include any context or pre-activity assignments they need to successfully complete the activities. For example, would any of the statistical vignettes or video tutorials help prepare your students for the module?

Once you have created the activities, describe the mechanics and flow of the activities and all of the materials needed to implement the activities. On the blank module template, this section is under the Description and Teaching Materials heading. Refer to the blank module template for more detailed directions. After drafting the activities and describing the module this is a good time to write down why the concepts and skills in this module matter.

Assessing student learning

Deciding how and when to assess student learning can be tricky and many approaches can be successful. There are numerous resources to help you develop impactful assessments.

Reviewing your module

Writing student activities is an iterative process that benefits from deliberate review. If you have a colleague or interested student, ask them to review your materials at this point. Or, do the review on your own, but try to keep a student's perspective in mind.

EDDIE rubric

Use the EDDIE rubric to assess if your module is on the right track. Because your module is not complete, it makes sense to use the rubric as a guidance tool, rather than a scoring tool.


Materials submitted to Project EDDIE are free, open resources that will hopefully be adopted by a range of instructors. To help with adoption, images, datasets, and articles need to be under a license that clearly allows for reuse. Use the copyright resources web page to confirm that all of your materials can be legally redistributed.


These materials will be freely available and should be accessible to all educators and learners. Use the accessibility guidelines to make sure your materials are meeting the basic requirements for web accessibility. In addition to the accessibility guidelines, review the EDDIE style sheet to make your module consistent with published EDDIE modules.

Revising and completing your module

After review of your module, make any necessary revisions to materials you have developed thus far. To complete your module:

  1. Fill in any remaining prompts on the blank module template. Outstanding prompts likely include:
    1. Summary
    2. Strength of module
    3. Context for use
    4. Teaching notes and tips
    5. Measures of student success
    6. References and resources
  2. Complete the EDDIE instructor guide template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) PRIVATE FILE 95kB Aug17 23). Elements from the module template will be useful for the instructor guide. The guide is also a good place to include answers or acceptable responses for the activities. Instructor guides with answer keys can be made private and only accessible to instructors. A robust instructor guide can help support adoption and adaption of your materials.

Review completed module

Yay! You have a complete module and you want to submit it to the EDDIE project. Before you contribute, it is worthwhile to review the completed module one more time. Use the EDDIE rubric and the EDDIE external review template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) PRIVATE FILE 27kB Aug18 23). Again, a colleague or interested student would be a good option for the external review. Alternatively, pilot the module with students in one of your classes. The pilot process with a class full of students will find any remaining leaps in logic, unclear questions, or missing pieces of data.

Contribute your module

You have completed your module and are ready to share it with the broader community. Use the EDDIE contribute an activity web page to share your module. When you are ready to submit you will need to fill in the contribute an activity form and attach any supplemental materials (e.g., datasets, student handouts). You should have all of these items at hand and many of the prompts on the form correlate with the module template prompts. Follow the directions on the form to finalize your submission.

Resources for Module Development