Significant Learning by Design – I

Are you craving more clarity in your course design? Ready to develop a solid course plan that provides a confident, clear connection to meaningful student learning?

This course is invaluable for anyone who wants to design, or redesign, a course that goes beyond surface-level learning and focuses on long-lasting, significant student learning.

We help you tap into your hopes and dreams for your students, and provide practical methods for achieving these goals.

“I’m constantly begging for more time to get things done. However, as I progressed through these activities, I realized that working on a big dream was making me more productive…

I instantly had ideas to add to my lesson plans and began to look forward to teaching the course again so that I could make my first day even more impactful.”
– Molly Collins, English Instructor, Tri-County Technical College

Significant Learning by Design-I focuses on a model of course design developed by L. Dee Fink called Integrated Course Design, a design process shown to lead to greater student engagement and improved student learning.* The conceptual framework, based Fink’s book, Creating Significant Learning Experiences (Jossey-Bass 2013), includes a design process that can be applied to face-to-face, blended/hybrid, and completely online courses.

  • Asynchronous online course
  • Two and 1/2 weeks in length
  • Facilitated with personalized feedback at every step
  • Approximately 20 hours to complete
  • Small cohort size
  • Cost: $495/participant
  • SLD-I may be taken by itself or combined with the next course in the series, SLD-II


By actively participating in this course, in just over two weeks you will create a set of course design documents in which you:

  • Identify situational factors that impact the design of your course
  • Consider the main pedagogical challenge of your course and how you can address it on the first day of class
  • Articulate your overall vision and goals for the significant learning you want students to achieve
  • Identify course-level learning outcomes based on the Taxonomy of Significant Learning
  • Develop learning assessments and learning activities that enable students to achieve your course goals
  • Reflect on your own learning and develop a personal plan for continued learning
  • Receive ongoing feedback from a facilitator and colleagues at every step


In this two-week course you will not only read and view lessons from the author, but apply the principles and materials to a course of your own. This is a facilitated course, with multiple opportunities for interaction and individual feedback from an experienced facilitator and from fellow colleagues. The course is offered in an fully-online asynchronous format through the Canvas software. There are no real-time meetings required, however, it is NOT self-paced. Active participation and specific due dates keep the group working together and sharing constructive feedback and ideas at each step of the process.


Instructors who have used the principles of Integrated Course Design provided in this workshop in the design of their own courses report greater student engagement, more long-term significant learning, and increased instructor satisfaction in teaching.


Brenda Keck

Assistant Professor
The Townsend Institute
Concordia University Irvine

“I am absolutely loving this process! I love how clear, organized and strategic it is. Not in a way that constricts the process, but in a way that provides a framework for greater creativity and dreaming. I feel like I’ve been given ‘permission’ to incorporate things into my course that matter a lot to me.”

Mark Earley

Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Columbus State Community College

“I had not previously thought of my course in reference to a Big Dream…I realized I’m so focused on getting students to ‘do statistics’ that I leave no time for them to process what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. I guess at the moment I just assume it will happen. I’m also convinced it does not happen. So, I was glad to face this challenge head-on, as it has really opened a whole new direction for my course to go.”

Gianina Gaitana

Professor of Nursing
Georgian College

“The biggest impact of using Integrated Course Design is that it has provided me with a ‘toolkit’ to use when engaging in the course design and planning process. Taking a structured course like this that uses a systematic framework has been extremely useful and something that will allow me to be more critical and thoughtful when creating learning activities and assessments. I think my teaching will benefit as it will help me to view the bigger picture and greater purpose for the courses I am teaching.”

David Parker

Assistant Professor &
Director of Graduate Programs
Division of Accounting and Finance
Graham School of Management
Saint Xavier University

“My work in this course challenged my beliefs and values about my teaching in several ways, a big one is my belief that I had developed an effective balance of activities, assignments, and assessments. This process forced me to look at each of these more closely and reflect on how they were incorporated into my class in ways that create and nurture a high impact, significant learning environment and experience for my students.”

Dana Dawson

Associate Director of Teaching and Learning
Temple University

“Revisiting the Taxonomy of Significant Learning has been very useful. I have thoroughly enjoyed the lessons as they are well organized and I really like being able to go back and forth between instructional content and application/assessment activities. I am amazed at how the ‘thinking big’ step transformed my course. The assessments are very different from those I previously used and the exercise has really focused my thinking around learning activities. I’m excited to actually teach this course again and try some of these ideas out!”

“I shared my Big Dream with my class last Thursday and they applauded. Yes, applauded…

I really wasn’t expecting that. It was a moment of solidarity and I realized that this is not just my dream, but also their dream. And when the instructor and the students share the same dream, the stage is set for real significant learning.”

– Ted Stokes, Department Head, Engineering Technology, Tri-County Technical College

Course Author

Dr. L. Dee Fink was previously teaching faculty and the founding director of the Instructional Development Program at the University of Oklahoma. Dee currently leads numerous workshops at conferences and on  campuses and serves as a consultant to faculty and institutions in higher education in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. To learn more about Dee and his work, visit:

*For a comprehensive overview of the benefits of Integrated Course Design across multiple disciplines, see New Directions in Teaching and Learning, Vol 2009, Issue 119. Designing courses for significant learning: Voices of experience. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.