Basic Principles

It goes without saying that course outlines need to be constantly updated and refined to keep pace with developments within the discipline, refinements in course delivery and assessment, and the changing characteristics of the student body. Effective instructors also carefully review course evaluations to identify student concerns. Where these concerns are based on common student misconceptions, gaps in student knowledge, or inappropriate student attitudes, these may then be addressed explicitly in subsequent course outlines.

For example, if students complain that the course appeared pointless to them, include a course manifesto that explicitly states the significance of the course goals to their careers, lives, and spiritual well being. If students complain that they lacked the necessary skills to complete a web-based assignment, the next year's course outline should explicitly state that knowledge of web-based skills is a prerequisite. If students complain that the workload was too great (and the instructor is still convinced the required work was necessary and appropriate), explicitly state in the next course outline that many students find the workload demanding those that still choose to take the course will be forewarned and so less likely to complain afterwards. If students complain that the course is depressing because it raised issues and introduced critical perspectives without providing solutions, include a paragraph on the role of uncertainty in professional practice in the course outline. Whenever student complaints miss the mark, they may be addressed in the course outline and so eliminated from subsequent course evaluations. Most students will accommodate anything an instructor feels is necessary, so long as they are informed at the outset; it is identified as a deliberate policy; and they are provided with a credible rationale.