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EOS-SEI: Getting started resources

How to start optimizing (or designing) a course?

What to expect in EOS?

  • Officially: All EOS-SEI sponsored course-optimization projects are following a Course Transformation Expectations document. This is the EOS 1-pg (+ footnotes) agreement between principle instructors and the Department.
  • Time: Certainly each course is unique, but generally, principle instructors work with a Science Teaching and Learning Fellow (STLF) over a period of 2 teaching cycles, starting 1 or 2 terms prior to the first teaching term of the project. Example: for a course taught in second term (Jan-Apr), the project typically starts Sept prior to teaching the course, continues through 2 terms of teaching the course, and ends several months after the second teaching term with a final report and archiving (materials and pedagogy) step.
  • Instructor's commitment? Initially roughly twice as much time as it takes to prepare and teach the course, tapering off in the second half of the project to roughly the same amount of time it would take to prepare and teach the course each semester.
  • Buy-outs for working on a course optimization project should be discussed with the Chair of the TIC committee and/or the Head.
  • For a General Model for STLF-Faculty Member Interactions, see the 2pg PDF at the CWSEI resources website.
  • Evidenced-based framework: Actions and innovations we try to introduce are based on either (1) precedent in the literature or from colleagues, or (2) evidence about student learning obtained by looking at work, observing class room dynamics, interviewing students, surveying students, and whatever other means available to answer "how do we know what we are planning to do is (a) important and (b) likely to contribute positively towards how well student learn.

Who is involved?

  • Lead instructor(s) of the course. It is best if one instructor agrees to take the lead in the project. Changing the lead during the project is not recommended but occasionally unavoidable. Instructors design the course, build exercises, assessments and other learning opportunities, and make principle decisions, just like they normally would. BUT, these "normal" tasks are done with an STLF contributing as outlined below.
  • One STLF (contact info) will be devoting 20-25% full-time-equivalent to this project for the full 2 yrs. Much of their time may be spent optaining the "data" described under "evidence-based framework" above, reviewing and advising about classroom activities, assessments, and other aspects of pedagagy or learning, and generally providing an expert (from teaching/learnign point view) perspective during the course of the project.
  • Ideally, especially in early stages of the project, all stake holders should be part of a "workgroup". These should include instructors of courses which have this course as a pre-requisite. It could also include instructors of EOS courses that are pre-requesit to the course being optimized.
  • Any other interested parties are more than welcome - TAs are often significant contributors.
  • Possibly a student (undergrad or grad) who either has something specific to contribute or some inherent interest in the process. This varies according the situation.

What does an "optimal" course look like?

Summaries of really important aspects

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many many good introductory or summative documents either at the CWSEI Website, on the EOS-SEI website, and elsewhere. But, these are in my opinion "crucial".

  • (4pgs, PDF) Why do this and how do we know it works? See Using Insights From Science to Teach/Learn Science (and other subjects), by Carl Wieman, UBC & CU; Slides from presentations that this 4pg summary is derived from are at the CWSEI website.
  • (2pgs, PDF) What All Instructors Should Know
  • (2pgs, PDF) Teaching Expert Thinking
  • (2pgs, PDF) Assessments That Support Learning
  • (2pgs, PDF) Related to learning goals: Developing Learning Goals in Computer Science, UBC ,
    and (1pg PDF) Experiences of Learning Goal Development, S. Wolfman, UBC CompSci. .
  • See also the eos-sei Resources Page.

Other related information

  • UBC CWSEI policy (pdf)
  • EOS-SEI project proposal form Dec 2006 (pdf)
  • EOS-SEI Longterm plan (pdf)


Extensive resources for teachers and students are at the CWSEI Website under these headings:


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