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What to teach

Once you know what you want to the students to learn and how you’re going to assess those skills, you need to determine what content will give them the background and practice they need to improve upon those competencies. What exercises, readings, and assignments will help the students reach the learning goals? Students should be able to practice the skills during low-stakes assignments prior to being assessed on high-stakes tests and projects. As mentioned above, feedback is crucial to improving student learning outcomes.

At this stage, it is again important to give clear explanations and expectations for assignments. Being explicit with which assignments help the students practice which learning objective helps students understand the purpose of the work. As novices in the field, they are often unable to make connections between the assignment and the greater goal.

As you create assignments, you should also consider how you are going to scaffold the practice of your learning goals. This means, in the beginning of the semester, students should be provided with more information and hints about how to do a task. As the semester progresses, less help is given by the instructor, and the students are able to practice the skill at slightly higher levels of difficulty. By the end of the semester, the scaffolding has provided them with the ability to compete the competency at your desired level.


MSU is requiring all web-based content to be made accessible, and this includes files posted or linked to from D2L for any course, whether fully online, hybrid, or in-person. To quote the MSU Web Accessibility Policy:

Michigan State University is committed to facilitating access to University instruction, communication, research, and business processes, while enhancing community building for the broadest possible audience. The University strives to employ principles of Universal Design and use the Web Accessibility Technical Guidelines (WA Technical Guidelines) and standards in the design, implementation, enhancement, and replacement of Web content and services.

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Content resources