What is a Course Description?

A course description provides a general overview of course content and fills in some of the blanks that learning outcomes don’t address.

It is generally expressed in a narrative way, and, while it may contain some of the same information as the learning outcomes for the course, it contains far more detail about content.  Here is an example of the learning outcomes for an Intermediate Drawing class:

• Students will be able to evaluate and draw objects using correct proportions, perspective and lighting (value contrast) in a series of drawings.

• Students will demonstrate their ability to conduct visual analysis of drawings (in terms of form, color, line, etc.) through oral and written exercises.

• Students will demonstrate in their drawings an ability to use the medium to intentionally express complex ideas.

Contrast that with the following course description for this course:

“The purpose of this course is to enhance the student’s understanding of two-dimensional form and how to communicate with the visual elements of drawing. It builds upon the fundamental visual principals learned in foundations classes, and furthers the student’s ability to use drawing as a means of ideation. Students will be able to evaluate an object and draw it correctly; analyze their drawings and use them in the ideation process; and develop a consistent visual form language for drawing.”

This entry was posted in Course Planning, Creating a Syllabus, Preparing to Teach and tagged , , by Jane Alden Stevens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jane Alden Stevens

Jane Alden Stevens is a photographer and educator who is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. An active artist, Stevens has exhibited and published her work extensively both in the US and abroad. She is the author of “Tears of Stone: World War I Remembered” (2004). In the course of her teaching career, Stevens taught courses in film, photography, and professional practices for fine artists. Her interest in teaching practices was deepened when she started teaching the "Graduate Teaching Workshop", a required graduate level course for fine artists and art historians that prepares them to teach the courses they will later be assigned. She was also involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program at the University of Cincinnati, which prepares masters and doctoral students across all programs for teaching at the university level. She has conducted pedagogy workshops for a variety of universities, as well as participated in academic practicum panels at educational conferences. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Stevens was honored with the all-university Cohen Award for Excellence in University Teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2002 and Professor of the Year honors in her college in 2011.

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