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Best Practices: An Overview

Backwards Design ADDIE Graphic
These Best Practices in Pedagogy pages encourage you to think about course design in relationship to five related components. Links at the top of each sub-page allow you to quickly access other components of this model.
Learning Objectives Learning Assessments Learning Activities
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Best Practices:
Implementation + Delivery Reflection + Revision
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This model above reflects five major components the ECTL believes should always guide the development, teaching, and revision of courses. The table below shows how these components can be broken into smaller topics. These components are recursive in nature, so you can jump in anywhere you're interested to learn more!

Key Component

Key Topics

Learning Objectives

Goals for student learning should drive classroom activities and assessments. Start here to learn more about how to build clear and measurable student learning objectives/outcomes.

  • How to write learning objectives
  • Crafting objectives for different types and levels of complexity

Learning Assessments

Good teaching attempts to measure students’ progress towards course objectives--both informally and formally. This section provides information about how to design good exams, rubrics, and other ways to assess student learning.

  • Developing rubrics and assessment activities
  • Mapping curriculum across a program

Learning Activities

Good teaching provides multiple ways for students to develop their knowledge through effective learning activities--discussion, hands-on learning, course readings, collaborative projects, etc. This section provides a variety of ideas for developing engaging and effective learning activities. 

  • Tools for learning
  • Active and engaged learning 
  • Lecture-based learning
  • Lab-based courses
  • Large-enrollment courses
  • Discussion-based Courses
  • Reflective learning
  • Writing-to-learn activities
  • Minimizing plagiarism

Implementation/ Delivery

No matter how strong a course’s objectives, assessments, and activities are, those elements are worthless if they are not delivered thoughtfully. Good teaching takes into account student characteristics, the mode of delivery, teacher persona, goals of equity and inclusion, etc. This section provides ideas that can improve day-to-day delivery of your course.

  • Course structure and syllabus design
  • Modes of delivery
  • Course management
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Inclusive teaching, accessibility, and Universal Design

Reflection & Revision

At the heart of course and program revision is ongoing attention to what worked and what did’t. This section provides materials that can help you evaluate successes and weaknesses related to objectives, assessments, activities, and implementation.

  • Reflection as a form of evaluation
  • Rubrics, checklists, and other tools for evaluating course design and delivery


Note: This model is inspired by Backward Design and the ADDIE instructional design framework. For more information about these frameworks, consider these resources:
  • Backward Design. The logic of backward design suggests a planning sequence for  curriculum in three stages: 1) learning objectives; 2) assessments; and 3) learning activities.
  • ADDIE. This instructional design model is an acronym for the five stages of its development process: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

Want more help? Reach out to ECTL staff at


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