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Instruction and Course Design
Course Design Standards

General Education Course Standards

The General Education (GE) curriculum serves all of the university's undergraduate students. As a result, all GE courses are to meet these standards. There are different design and instructor requirements for courses delivered online versus face-to-face. 

These standards apply to all General Education courses, both online and traditional.

  • Three-Credit Standard - General Education courses are 3-credits, except for lab and major-specific needs.

  • Engaged Time Requirement - Academic units offering courses for Concordia University, St. Paul academic credit must adhere to the federal definition of a credit hour for the assignment of credit hours earned per course. Using this definition, student instruction and out-of-class work will typically not be less than 45 hours per credit hour per course.

  • Prerequisites - Due to their introductory focus, general education courses may not require prerequisites, except placement in English (writing) and Math.

  • Online Course Design Teams - Design teams led by Curriculum and Instruction Center (C&I Center), with faculty serving as Subject Matter Experts, will revise or create the online General Education courses. 

  • Traditional Course Design - Faculty designing traditional General Education courses will consult at the beginning of the design process with the Curriculum and Instruction Center.

  • Career Exploration - General Education courses will include career exploration components, giving students an opportunity to explore careers in a particular field or discipline.

  • Accessibility - General Education courses will use Ally, an accessibility tool, to increase the accessibility of digital course content. 

  • Common Rubrics - All assignments will incorporate grading rubrics specific to their course's design principles. 

  • General Education Assessment - General Education courses will include the assessment of university-assigned General Education outcomes.

  • Primary Course - All General Education courses will be designed and delivered within the primary course model. 

  • Course Review - The Curriculum & Instruction Center will review all General Education primary courses to ensure course design requirements. 

  • Course material affordability - Whenever possible, courses will be designed with no-cost course materials that are sustainable and copyright-compliant. The Library and the Curriculum and Instruction Center will help guide this process.

Online General Education Course Standards

These standards apply to online General Education courses and build on the above standards.

Regular and Substantive Interaction

Course designers are to design courses to promote regular and substantive interaction between students and faculty. To this end, courses will typically include

  • Integration of weekly faculty interaction with students

  • Development of a weekly communication plan to guide faculty interactions

  • Inclusion of weekly automatic announcements, highlighting of key academic material and course milestones.

Examples of faculty interaction may include but are not limited to

  • Announcements, emails, or social media check-ins initiated by the instructor about aspects of the course, additional guidance, etc.

  • Optional synchronous activities.

  • Facilitating a study group or online discussion forum.

Faculty-to-student engagement

Course instructors will:

  • Provide grading and assignment feedback to student assignments typically within one week, recognizing that large projects, like capstones and dissertations, may require adjusted and communicated feedback timelines. 

  • Respond to student inquiries normally within 24 hours (weekday) to 48 hours (weekend).

  • Typically follow up on a weekly basis with students struggling to academically succeed as determined through observation of course activity, and assessment completion, and offer additional opportunities for interaction.

  • Throughout the week, monitor and facilitate student engagement within the LMS (i.e. discussion boards or other tools used to promote student-to-student interaction).

  • Engage students, usually a minimum of four days per week, through the LMS and other course tools. 

  • Implement the course's weekly academic communication plan.

Student-to-content engagement

  • Students should be given three opportunities to meet student learning outcomes.

  • Content should scaffold

  • Clear communication of career relevancy - need clear measurements.

  • Rubrics created and used for each assignment - DB Rubrics, Papers, etc. - embedded in Bb. 

  • Open educational resources used to reduce cost

  • Incorporate time estimates for assignments. 

Student-to-student engagement

  • Maximum of Two Discussion Board questions per week.

  • Community Space: One related to content and one community building.  Because gen eds will likely have new students, topics for the community building DB should be related to time management, CSP support, balancing life, wellness, etc. Goal is to reduce anxiety, share common experiences and increase student success.

Traditional General Education Design Process

This process applies to the development of traditional face-to-face General Education courses and builds on the above standards.

Initial course review

The C&I team will conduct an initial course review based on the Course Design Rubric and instructional design best practices. The review will provide actionable feedback categorized into priority levels:

Priority Level Action Examples
Critical Required
  • Primary course/syllabus usage
  • Engage time requirement
  • CSP 16-week LMS template
  • Course/Assessment Outcomes
  • Grading rubrics/expectations
  • Course materials cost
  • Career exploration elements
High Strongly Recommended
  • Accessibility
  • Research assignments
  • Materials quantity/quality
  • High-stakes/low-stakes assessments
Medium Recommended
  • Embedded support
  • Appropriate academic technology
Low Optional Enhancement
  • Study tips/practice opportunities

Follow Up Course Review

After a course has been redesigned and run for a semester, the C&I team will conduct another course review. The results of this review will be combined with instructor and student feedback to make adjustments to the design of the course.

Ongoing C&I support

The C&I team is available throughout the redesign process to provide feedback and guidance on course design, assessment creation, student engagement strategies, and in locating supplemental course materials.

Course material affordability

Course writers will collaborate with the C&I and Library teams to select course materials that provide no-cost or low-cost access to required course materials. See Course material selection for General Education courses

Evidence of Student Attendance

Student course attendance contributes to academic success. With online courses, CSP defines online attendance as a student actively participating in discussion boards, completing assignments, quizzes, and tests, or participating in course meetings.

Monitoring student attendance provides faculty and staff information needed to:

  • Intervene when a student's attendance lags 
  • Remain compliant with Department of Education financial aid requirements. 

Documenting student activity within the first week is especially critical in meeting our obligations with the Department of Education (DOE). Most of our online programs require students to actively engage in a course activity during the first week of a course, whether a discussion board post or a class meeting. However, up to this point, the university has not had a clear expectation of what is required in a course or a consistent process for documenting this information.

During the fall 2022 semester, newly revised online general education courses piloted the inclusion of a required activity of their choosing that students must complete in the learning management system (LMS) during the first 72 hours of the courses. The advising staff office then uses this participation data to identify students who have not participated in a course and work directly with students to encourage course engagement during this first week. This participation data is shared with faculty and inform financial aid reporting requirements.  


Online Course Attendance

Online course instructors will ensure this assignment has a release date and a due date. To meet DOE requirements, the release date of the activity must be the first day of the start of the course, and the due date must be within 72 hours of the release date. 

Traditional Course Attendance

Traditional face-to-face course instructors will utilize the Attendance tool within the LMS to track student attendance within the first week of a course. 

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