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Course Design Institute

The Course Design Institute is a week-long immersive experience that will spark new ways of thinking about courses, empower instructors to prioritize what matters most, and help to create clear learning paths for students. Most CDI participants leave with 80-90% of their courses designed.

Grounded in research and based on a national model developed at the University of Virginia, the CDI has helped more than 600 faculty at UVA (and hundreds more around the country) design innovative, transformative learning experiences for students. Faculty routinely praise the CDI as a transformational development experience.

Michael PalmerThe inaugural CDI at SLU will feature Dr. Michael Palmer, professor and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia. Trained as a chemist, Michael now leads efforts to improve teaching and student learning at UVA. His research on learning-focused syllabi has appeared in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning and To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development.

Who should apply?

Instructors willing to explore new possibilities for their course and engage in cross-disciplinary conversations about course design. Note: This is a particularly good opportunity for faculty who don’t have a course release but need time and space to design a new course or re-imagine an existing one.

When is it? 

SLU’s first CDI will take place June 24-28 (Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.). In addition to the time spent in the workshop, participants will complete key course development tasks outside of institute hours and receive formative feedback on their course materials throughout the week. Participants must commit to attending all sessions during the CDI.

How to apply

The call  for applications for the 2019 Course Design Institute is currently closed. We anticipate the next call opening in Spring 2020. 

Facilitator Information
Michael Palmer is the Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Professor, General Faculty. His educational development research centers on teaching consultation techniques, course and syllabus design, and the impact intense professional development activities have on teacher beliefs and practices. His work in these areas has won three national awards from the POD Network in the last five years and was recently featured in Science. His pedagogical interests include alternative grading systems, active learning, student motivation, and creative thinking. He teaches a highly interdisciplinary course on infinity, a seminar on the science of learning, and a large-enrollment, inquiry-based laboratory course for first-year chemistry students. In 2012, he won the University of Virginia’s All-University Teaching Award.
Who may apply for the Institute?

Faculty interested in designing a new course or substantially redesigning an existing course may apply. Instructors who are open to learning-centered approaches to course design and those willing to fully and actively participate in small, structured learning communities are especially well-suited to this experience.

Is there a registration fee to attend the Institute?

No. The Reinert Center covers the cost of the CDI, which includes continental breakfast and lunch each day.

How many participants are accepted?

In order to provide individualized support, the Institute will be limited to 15-20 participants.

How much time will it take?

You’ll spend around 40 hours during the CDI week working on your course design.  Most of this time is spent in the Institute itself—approximately six hours per day for four and a half days. The remaining time is spent outside of class completing various components of your course design and preparing for the next day’s discussions. The good news? When faculty invest this time in the CDI experience, they often leave with 80-90% of their course design completed. N.B. Many participants underestimate how much time outside the Institute it takes to fully develop their course over the week. Consider clearing your calendar completely and dedicating the entire week to designing your course.

Do I have to attend all the meetings?

You are expected to attend all meetings. Throughout the Institute, you’ll work in a small, interdisciplinary group of fellow instructors. This learning community will provide you thoughtful, constructive feedback, alternative perspectives, and general support and encouragement.  As such, we ask that you plan to attend each meeting and come with your “homework” completed.

What do I need to do to prepare for the Institute?

When either designing a new course or redesigning an existing one, the two most important questions you can ask are, “What do I hope my students will be able to do three - five years after taking my course?” and “Why is this important to me?” Spending time before the Institute reflecting on these questions will greatly facilitate the design process. We will send you a few key resources one to two weeks prior to the Institute, including a short article to read and some specific exercises to complete. This preparation will help you more fully address the questions above.

Other questions?
Contact Mary Cook at or at 314-977-3944.