Design with the End in Mind

Design with the End in Mind: Using Learning Outcomes for Curriculum Development

James Lucas

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

1400 Biomedical and Physical Sciences

Lunch Provided


The concept of backward design (BWD) indicates that teaching around the organization of the textbook is not the best way to help students learn. BWD suggests that when creating curriculum—at the program- or course-level—that faculty members and instructors start course design by asking the question, “what do I want my students to be able to think, feel, or do after they complete my class.” This session will discuss the learning theory and practice that underpins BWD, discuss and practice writing course learning outcomes, and address common challenges associated with using learning outcomes. The session will also provide an overview of the connections between learning outcome and assessment. Participants are asked, if possible, to bring copies of departmental learning outcomes and/or professional/accreditation standards.


James M. Lucas serves as Assistant Dean for Global Education and Curriculum in MSU’s Office Undergraduate Education. In this capacity, he consults with campus departments connect curricula to the institution’s learning outcomes, develop assessment methods to evidence this learning, and create experiential opportunities that enhance the undergraduate experience. Jim also collaborates with units across campus to provide opportunities that enhance student success, integrative studies, and the first-year experience.

He also coordinates MSU’s centralized first-year seminar courses. These courses include transition, topical, and off-campus formats. The Freshman Seminar Abroad (FSA) program provides students the opportunity to have a short-term global experience before starting classes at MSU. Finally, he represents his office at campus meetings related to international students, education abroad, inclusive teaching, and intercultural concerns.

Jim completed his Ph.D., in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education in 2009, with foci on global education and curriculum development. His dissertation investigated male student participation in study abroad programming, and based on this research, he’s created a study abroad program for cis-gendered fraternity men to discuss leadership and masculinity. He maintains a connection to the College of Agricultural and Natural Resources, where he works on curriculum reform and leads a summer program to Australia related to sustainability.

Video of Session

PowerPoint Slides from Workshop