Basic Principles

Students can generally hit any target they can see and that holds still for them. Consequently, the more explicit and specific the expectations set out in the course outline, the more successful students are likely to be. Instructors who include explicit scoring criteria for their assignments, for example, are likely to find that they receive work of a significantly higher standard then when students are left to intuit what the instructor is looking for. By explicitly setting out course objectives, topics to be covered, skill expectations, and so on, the course outline allows students to make informed decisions concerning how much time and effort to allocate to each aspect of the course; how to focus their energies to maximize their learning and success; and even whether to take the course in the first place. Specific course outlines virtually eliminate the problems of misplaced student expectations, off-topic assignment submissions, and the need to constantly repeat directions given in class.