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  Home > Tool Kit for Course Coordinators

Tool Kit for Course Coordinators



Quality teaching and learning is a critical mission of the veterinary college.  Course coordinators are essential to the success of this mission.  By developing, maintaining, and implementing instruction, course coordinators carry much of the leadership responsibility for insuring that courses are of high quality and instruction is relevant to the profession. The decisions and actions that course coordinators implement have a large influence on student learning and performance. 

We recognize that your leadership role at times can be challenging.  Course coordinators are vested with considerable managerial and administrative responsibility, but likely have limited formal authority and lack of control over resources.  This can make implementation of ideas and actions difficult.  To overcome this challenge, build and maintain relationships that are critical for your success.  Consider the following suggestions: 

  • Build community among lecturers through team building coaching, and mentoring.            
  • Maintain communication qualities of listening, empathy, and negotiation along with your competencies in teaching.
  • Keep everyone informed by Involving all in discussions and planning.
  • Be available and generous with time and expertise.
  • Be supportive by valuing what others do.
  • See differences as potential positives.
  • Coach cooperation.
  • Have the courage to give positive and critical feedback.

We hope that this web site will not be viewed as a mandate of what you must do in your role as course coordinator, but instead assist with course development, refinement, and implementation.  This site is an iterative process.  Therefore, your feedback and contributions are needed to help us update information that becomes outdated, delete information that is unnecessary, and add information that is useful and stimulating. Please submit suggestions and contributions to us at (Deb Wingert, winge007@umn.edu; Jody Lulich, lulic001@umn.edu).

(when clicked, we want the page to go that section)

        1.  Use the template
        2.  Strategies to supersize your syllabus
        1.  Review important policies concerning student activities
        2.  Understand the rationale of how the course schedule was constructed
        3.  Maintain regular student contact
        4.  Maintain regular instructor contact
        5.  Strive for consistency with varied instructors

I.  Understand the Responsibilities of Course Coordinators
Don’t do it alone.  The following links identify the responsibilities of course coordinators and others who can help.

Responsibilities of the Course Coordinators

Responsibilities of the Instructors
Responsibilities of the Department Staff
Responsibilities of the Department Chair

Designing or revising a course requires purpose, time and information gathering centered around two important tasks; 1) Determining Course Content and 2) Developing Learning Outcomes.   Below are a variety of resources to effectively and efficiently get started.  Remember that it is an iterative process whose outcomes should be relevant to what veterinary students will utilize as they matriculate into the profession.

General overview with multiple resources and much information

Cutting Edge Course Design Tutorial:

Preparing or Designing a Course:

Backward Course Design:

Course Design Tip Sheet: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University:

Understanding by Design: Backward Design

Why Backward is Best:

Cumulative Teaching Support Services

Deb Wingert, Director of Educational Development, is available for consultation, support, assistance regarding course design, syllabus development, teaching strategies, etc. winge007@umn.edu.


The final output of course design is a complete and thoughtful syllabus.  Login into the “Curriculum Map ~ UM College of Veterinary Medicine” at this location; a template has been provided for assistance. 

A syllabus tutorial is provided at:

A copy of the CVM syllabus template: Template 1   Template 2

To better personalize or adjust the syllabus to fit your particular course and plan consider several of the options below:

a)  Create a heading, aphorism, or proverb that sets the tone of the class.
e.g. “the skillful mariner is not made by travelling the calm seas.”
“The right way to do things is not to try to persuade people you're right but to challenge them to think it through for themselves. -- Noam Chomsky”
“how to you know what you know…when you can teach it to someone else.”
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. – Plutarch”
“Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”
“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.  ~Willa Cather”

b)  Encourage class attendance in a supportive manner
Provide a question at the end of lecture that counts toward the final grade.  Clicker use can automatically record attendance and grade at the same time.  A percentage of the questions can be mandatory and a percentage will allow for additional points.  By doing so excused absences are less likely to affect the normal grade.

c)  Encourage timely completion of tests in a supporting manner
Provide extra credit only when tests are taken at the assigned time; “make up tests” will not be allowed this advantage.
Allow students the opportunity to ask for help with one or more questions only during the assigned test time.  This is equivalent to, “do you want a life line.”

d)  Clearly state the ability and responsibility of students to make-up missed assignments/tests and if any penalty may result from unexcused absences or other failures to meet deadlines. Review exam policy before drafting suggestions

e)  Schedule a time to review all or a portion of the exam(s).
    Reviewing exams is a great learning opportunity for both the exam-makers and the exam-takers.  Instructors can get a better opportunity to understand if teaching was at the level and focus of the questions.  For students, it is a learning/re-teaching moment when their interest is high.  Therefore, if possible schedule exam reviews as soon as possible after the test date.

How to Make Addendums to the Syllabus
Login into the “Curriculum Map ~ UM College of Veterinary Medicine” at http://currmap.ahc.umn.edu/login.cfm

Complete the syllabus using the template

Make modifications in the comments section using the syllabus template or copy a formatted syllabus (after requesting a completed copy of the syllabus by highlighting the print/preview button).  Copy the syllabus into a word document so that it can be modified. 

You can also upload supporting documents.  After entering the syllabus template click the tab “Ext Docs” on the top right.  For example you can attach notes for other instructors to review.  This is not the place to attach notes for students because they cannot access documents at this location. 


1.  Review Important Policies concerning student activities
Policies covering the:
        Honor Code
        Attendance Policy
        Exam Policy
        Non-CVM Course Registration Policy
        Academic Standing and Dismissal Policy
        Rabies Policy
        Pregnancy Policy

Can be reviewed at:


The University Disability Policy is available at: http://www1.umn.edu/regents/policies/administrative/DisabilityServices.pdf

The University Mental Health Statement:
Student Mental Health: As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student's ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via http://www.mentalhealth.umn.edu/.

Sexual Harassment:
University policy prohibits sexual harassment as defined in the University Policy Statement adopted on December 11, 1998. Complaints about sexual harassment should be reported to the University Office of Equal Opportunity, 419 Morrill.

2.  Understand THE RATIONALE of how the master course schedule was constructed
The college has created a master schedule permitting greater ease in scheduling teaching responsibilities, clinical responsibilities, research opportunities, animal use, and personal time. The building of this schedule was created on the following guiding principles:

  • a)    Curricular need, especially contact time and sequencing, are paramount. No course exists in a vacuum; if we are to be a true curriculum, every course must be placed properly to ensure appropriate horizontal (within semester) and vertical (between semesters and years) integration of material.
  • b)    Consistency is stressed, with every effort to keep repeated offerings within a course on the same day of the week and at the same time of day throughout the semester.
  • c)    Student needs will be addressed as appropriate. This primarily involves recognition by students and faculty that timing of major examinations within each course must be set into the schedule and not changed, in an effort to ensure that students have adequate time to prepare for all examinations and that faculty can place examinations at appropriate times in the course for best assessment of student learning.

Faculty have flexibility of scheduling within their allotted course times with the exception of timing of major examinations. Faculty also may speak to their colleagues in a given semester if there is an absolute (and rare) need to trade course offering times. Academic and Student Affairs will not be involved in trying to tailor changes every year to meet faculty needs. Department Chairs will support Academic and Student Affairs in maintenance of this master schedule. The only changes to this schedule in the future will be due to curricular changes as approved by the collegiate Committee on Curriculum and Educational Policy

Why- to maintain student contact and course involvement with important issues.

  • Login in at https://www.umreports.umn.edu/
  • Hit tab called: my classes
  • Locate the appropriate class and activate the list
  • On the bottom of the list in the right corner is a tab called “email all students”

Email addresses are provided.  They can be copied and pasted into any email program (consider blind copy attachment of addresses to minimize your miss handling of others email addresses).

Why:   regular communication can help maintain instructor consistency, reiterate important dates/teaching schedule, provide teaching wisdom, provide examples of test questions, provide alerts to smooth class management, set up initial and final meetings, etc. 
See example of weekly communications

How:    Email seems to work effectively. There are a variety of ways to construct email   group lists.  Make a group list using your email server.

Why: Learning is facilitated when practice is consistent.
What: Lecture delivery
    Test questions
    Class Times
How:  Meet with instructors prior to course sessions.  Build the syllabus together. Determine together how handouts/PPTs will look (i.e., three slides per page? Six? Light background to facilitate note-taking? etc.- See example); Determine how to implement clicker questions or other question activities during each class session. Build on each others’ content......be familiar with course content that precedes your lectures.

For Each Lecture Consider
a)  An introductory slide reviewing what was discussed in the previous lecture-(e.g. where the class has been).  Strive to keep the number of goals to three or less.  This slide can be provided by the instructor who taught the previous lecture.  These goals should be stated in terms of what the student is/will be able to do.....and can also be stated in the course syllabus.

b)  An introductory slide of what the class will accomplish today (strive to keep the number of goals to three or less).

c)  An introductory question slide pertaining to the lecture material.  End the lecture with the same goals or questions and provide students an opportunity to use their “clickers” to answer the questions or an open discussion about the goal(s).  The clicker mechanism can also be used to take attendance, supplement grades, or to determine if students captured the essence of the lesson.  The next day’s introductory slide (see #1: where we have been) can be developed on the basis of student’s responses.

d)  An exit summary slide.  (For example, the three most important concepts that you need to remember are ……).  You can also use this slide to have the students share what they see as the main/key points.

For Class Notes consider:
Develop a plan that is easy to implement by most instructors

a)   Convert power point presentation to a PDF notes format (use 6 slides per page read in a horizontal fashion and remove all background colors).
        example: recognizing reversible renal failure

b)  Develop a note template that includes:
What you need to bring (List what students need to remember from previous courses to engage fully and provide a resource).
Lecture goals (keep them to three or less)
Key Definitions (provide definitions to a few new or key terms)
Key Concepts
Applying your Knowledge (provide a clinical or laboratory example; provide an annotated answer if appropriate)
Mandatory Reading (list an expected learning source)
Valuable Resources.  Provide a directed reading/learning source.  Emphasize what students should focus on when reviewing the resource.
Are You Prepared for the Test?  Provide several questions.  The answer can be provided as a reference to allow students the opportunity to evaluate a resource or can be delivered in class.
    Example: Was Dracula Rabid? (See example)

Understanding technological resources may allow the course to be managed more efficiently.  Below are several choices to consider

CVM Tutorials on Camtasia, UMConnect, Adobe Presenter, Moodle:

How to use clickers to engage and assess students:



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