How do I innovate in curriculum and course design?

Getting started


  • What are the typical drivers of innovation?
  • What is an effective innovation?


Innovation follows from identifying a teaching challenge or perceiving a  teaching opportunity. Innovation needs to  be grounded in procedures for measuring teaching effectiveness. For example, reflective teaching, scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching are all ways to take a systematic approach to innovation that will allow you to measure the impact of your curriculum or course innovation.

Innovation should not happen for its own sake. Rather, innovation needs to be driven by a particular problem or by a perceived opportunity that calls for a new way of doing things. Examples of challenges/opportunities at a curriculum level include a perceived need to adopt a new approach to teaching e.g. taking a problem based approach to the curriculum or taking a case based approach to the curriculum. The perceived need to adopt a new teaching approach can also drive change at the level of a course in the first instance. Changes at the course level may lead to changes at a curriculum level if the innovations prove to be effective.

Roger Booth talks about creating integrated learning activities for use across courses:

Click to play the video (requires Flash Player).

Innovations at a curriculum and/or course level may also be prompted by changes in the market place. For example, potential students may demand more flexible study options and/or distance education opportunities that allow them to continue in employment whilst studying. A particular university may make its programmes available online, prompting similar innovations in "competing" universities.  Delivering a distance course requires innovation that will include the use of technologies. (See When should I use technologies?).

Professor John Shaw from the School of Pharmacy talks about the importance of also being aware of accreditation frameworks:

Click to view the video (requires Flash Player).


You might want to take some time to think about areas where you might innovate.

  • You can use the ePortfolio to record you activity in this area. For example, you might document what you have done to innovate in curriculum and course design.
Merit in the area of Design and Planning of Courses and Programmes might also be evidenced by leadership in the design and implementation of courses and programmes at an institutional level. You might, for example, chair a curriculum review committee or lead a Board of Studies for a programme. Distinction in the Design and Planning of Courses and Programmes might be evidenced by international activity in this area e.g. member of international accrediting bodies or consultation on international projects.

Taking it further

Prideaux, D. (2003). ABC of Learning and Teaching in Medicine: Curriculum Design. BMJ, 326(7383), 268-270.
This article provides a basic introduction to curriculum design through presenting three different curriculum design models.

University of Auckland, Excellence and Innovation in Teaching
This page provides links to a range suports and awards for innvovation and excellence in teaching.

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How do I innovate in curriculum and course design?

“A teaching philosophy can help you to reflect on how and why you teach. If you don’t have a teaching philosophy, you might want to consider writing one. You can take a look at What makes a good teacher? to get started. If you already have a teaching philosophy, you might want to reflect on how the work that you are doing here fits with that philosophy”.