Elements of an Effective Course Outline

Calendar Description of the Course
I like to quote the actual calendar description of the course to keep myself honest. Too often student dissatisfaction with a course stems from the discrepancy between the course description they read in the calendar when they selected the course, and the actual course presented by the instructor. If more instructors adopted the habit of citing the calendar description in the course outline, calendar entries would be kept more up to date and there would be greater consistency between different sections of the same course.

It is also often useful to explain the relationship between this course and others in the program: where the course is required, provide the rationale for requiring students to master this knowledge and these skills; where the course is a prerequisite, explain how subsequent courses will build on the material in this course; where the course has prerequisites or corequisites, explain why they are required and how the current course will build on these pre/co-requisites/; where the course is an option, explain the benefits of students having chosen this option.