Determine Feasibility

  • District administrator or school principal assesses climate for the project and potential for post-secondary institutional participation.
  • Determine feasibility of adding Senior Seminars or Paired Courses to curriculum. Considerations might include: adequate staff and money to add a course; ability to reconfigure courses in department to include the new or re-designed course; and/or list of departments that want to participate.
  • Discuss possible partners (private industry: high tech, manufacturing; public: city planning department, utility, museum, arts organization, hospital, individuals: local author or publisher, historian, contractor or architect). Partners are most valuable in the Senior Seminar design.
  • Gain high school and post-secondary faculty “buy in” (presentation about goals of the project).
  • Hold department level meetings to explore readiness for concept. The teams can choose whether to develop only the high school level Senior Seminar or both courses in the Paired Courses sequence. If both courses are developed they should be created together using the materials provided here. The only differences should be in the challenge levels expected. The high school Senior Seminar and its companion course in the postsecondary institution should use similar scoring rubrics and assessment procedures.
  • Choose a set of college-ready standards (Knowledge and Skills for University Success [KSUS] Standards is one example)
  • Ideally, the new course will be created as part of a school wide effort to develop an intellectually coherent curriculum. This curriculum is intentionally sequenced and provides regular opportunities for students to perform well at increasingly difficult tasks.

Finalize Concept/Recruiting

Course Pre-design

  • Form subject area teams of high school, community college, and university faculty interested in course redesign or new course design. Identify a facilitator such as a district curriculum specialist, principal or consultant.
  • Refine budget to support this project—primarily for release time and/or compensation for faculty working on course design.
  • Create a timeline for course development, which could happen at a summer workshop or at bi-weekly meetings.
  • Design initial meeting to help all participants become familiar with the chosen standards. Design will include an “assignment” for all team participants. The student work samples from this assignment will be used at the initial meeting so faculty need to be given the task at least one month ahead.

Initial Meeting of Team Members

Using the KSUS standards (or another set of college-ready standards) as a common point of departure, these cross-level teams work to determine how their expectations are complementary and how they are not. All participants will bring work samples from their courses to this first meeting. The two groups review each other’s documents and work together to develop a shared set of expectations for student work. Having common definitions enables faculty to design a course that seamlessly connects high school to higher education. It also facilitates the ability for faculty to guest teach, co-teach or team teach the resulting Senior Seminar or Paired Course.

  • Facilitators will send notices of the meeting to all participants. Participants will be reminded to bring the work samples from the assignment they gave their students.
  • Participating faculty bring work samples to meeting.
  • Participants will use scoring rubric to blindly score the samples.
  • Meeting facilitator will choose examples from the blind scoring to illustrate and foster discussion about what is expected of students at the high school and higher education levels. The goal for all participants is to gain a shared expectation of the knowledge, skills, and quality of students’ work.

Course Design

You must choose a set of college-ready standards, such as the KSUS standards. The KSUS standards can be downloaded in the “Determine Feasibility” section.

Continuing Course Design

Communicate with Parents and Students

  • Design materials to explain the new course concept to parents and students.

Letter to Parents (26 KB)

  • Advertise course to students.

Flyer Example (33 KB)

Course Evaluation

  • Course designers meet once or twice during the new course’s first year to discuss any additions or adjustments.
  • Evaluate student success when course is finished. Use any pre/post instruments or surveys to revise course design.

View Video

  • David Conley asks students to reflect on their experiences in a Senior Seminar at Sheldon High School (10 minutes)
Sarah Kaitlyn