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Course Design Elements Part II

course elements assessment, delivery and evaluation

We continue from the previous steps, where we started considering different course design elements


As with all other steps, assessments should be aligned with content and learning outcomes (which can be derived from desired competencies). Miller’s pyramid based on clinical competence, describes levels of learning starting with a knowledge base (“knows”) to basic competence of knowing what should be done (“knows how”) to being able to demonstrate a skill or behavior under standard conditions (“shows”) to actually applying the competencies in a real situation (“does”).

Formative assessment determines changes in performance during the course to identify learners’ strengths and weaknesses, and to give teachers/trainers an indication of how well the course had been designed and delivered. This is used to inform the instructor of any modifications needed on the course and for learners to identify needs to improve their learning. Cheung et al, emphasise that formative assessments are useful for enhancing learning with the intention to provide feedback, encourage mastery of content, hone skills, alter attitudes, and promote student growth. In turn Brown, (2007) and Kulasegaram et al, (2018) determine that formative assessments act as assessments for learning or learning-oriented assessments rather than just assessments of learning.

Summative assessments are usually applied at the end of a period of instruction to measure the outcome of student learning. Summative assessment determines whether learners have achieved the learning outcomes. For example, an examination at the end of a course that leads to certificate is a form of summative assessment.

Common assessment instruments may include MCQs, short answers, essay reports, laboratory practicals or software writing. An assessment plan should be included in design detailing the types and purpose of assessments, instruments and frequency of use.

Delivery plan

Delivery format and platforms

Your course will be either face to face, completely digitally delivered or a hybrid of two, perhaps in a blended format.

Digital platforms should be user friendly and learners may require orientation to maximise their participation. Where needed consider facilitating access to training and provision of infrastructure such as suitable computers, internet facilities. Consider whether there are any barriers to learning on these platforms, including disabilities, and make sure that all can access the learning, using alternative formats if necessary.

Design and tailor activities to suit the format or platforms to be used. Activities used in a face-to-face such as group work discussions can be replaced by virtual break-out rooms. While this may seem straightforward, there may be further considerations such as time taken to get into groups or breakout rooms, ability to share screens and present to the class, individual infrastructural and connectivity challenges, coordination of discussions, and so on.

Other delivery preparations include considerations for wet-lab training include appropriate preparation of reagents and consumables, ensuring functional equipment, health and safety issues. Access to genomics databases, software tools and computer infrastructure needs to be prepared, ensuring they are accessible and suitable for the training requirements.

Session plan

Design a session outline detailing the planned sequence of events for the defined period. This also helps to accurately estimate time allocation when delivering the training. A common session structure includes an introduction, practical based activities, group work, discussion and a wrap-up or reflection segment. Vary the types of activities to accommodate different learning styles and reduce repetition.

Trainer support for learners

Ensuring a low trainer to learner ratio is important especially where activities which require closely following analysis steps. Trainer support to individual learners will become lesser with the larger groups of learners, where peer-learning and peer-support can be harnessed so that overall support is sufficient. Where required for learners and possible, language support should be provided.

In an active learning environment, trainers’ support is part of their facilitation role, where they are meant to scaffold learning of their self-directed adult learners.

Training materials and learner resources

Provision of laboratory manuals and computational protocols are helpful for participants to follow steps and they can take the materials away for further practice. We will talk about this more in Week 2.


The last theme will be covered in the next step.


Kapur, Radhika. (2018). Formulation of Objectives in Curriculum Development

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Tractenberg, Rochelle & Lindvall, Jessica & Attwood, Teresa & Via, Allegra. (2020). Guidelines for curriculum and course development in higher education and training

Linderman, M.D., Sanderson, S.C., Bashir, A. et al. Impacts of incorporating personal genome sequencing into graduate genomics education: a longitudinal study over three course years BMC Med Genomics 11, 5 (2018)

Weitzel KW, McDonough CW, Elsey AR, Burkley B, Cavallari LH, Johnson JA. Effects of Using Personal Genotype Data on Student Learning and Attitudes in a Pharmacogenomics Course Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(7):122

Salari K, Karczewski KJ, Hudgins L, Ormond KE. Evidence that personal genome testing enhances student learning in a course on genomics and personalized medicine PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e68853. Published 2013 Jul 23

Miller, G E The assessment of clinical skills/competence/performance, Academic Medicine: September 1990 – Volume 65 – Issue 9 – p S63-7

Cheung JJH, Kulasegaram KM, Woods NN, Moulton CA, Ringsted CV, Brydges R. Knowing how and knowing why: testing the effect of instruction designed for cognitive integration on procedural skills transfer. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. Brown S. Assessment for learning. Learn Teach Higher Educ 1: 81–89, 2005

Kulasegaram K, Rangachari PK. Beyond “formative”: assessments to enrich student learning Adv Physiol Educ. 2018 Mar 1;42(1):5-14

Kibble JD. Best practices in summative assessment Adv Physiol Educ. 2017 Mar 1;41(1):110-119

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