Multi-Section Course Design

About the Program

Montclair currently offers over 150 courses that have 8 or more sections. Over 75% of those are introductory-level courses providing foundational knowledge and skills. They have high impact on student retention and success.


Quick facts about multi-section courses at Montclair

  • Part-time instructors teach 60% of all multi-section courses
  • Part-time instructors teach 69% of 100-level multi-section courses
  • 66 Montclair courses offer 15 or more sections each semester
  • In the Fall 2023, there were 87,941 registrations for multi-section courses.

Multi-section courses are successful when they are consistent across sections in instructional content, teaching methodologies, and assessment strategies. All sections of each intro-level course need to be equally reliable and transparent when serving as pre-requisites to courses further up the programmatic pipeline. Yet, many multi-section courses do not have a common syllabus or a guide for instruction, so the consistency and continuity of students’ learning experiences across sections is often hard to ensure.

In 2024-25, redesigning multi-section courses to improve consistency and student outcomes will be the focus of our TIP program.

Program Goals

The OFE Multi-Section Course Design program aims to bridge some of these gaps and help participating departments redesign multi-section courses in their curriculum, with consistency assurance and transparency in mind.

The OFE staff will assist participating teams in:

  • building courses that are flexible enough to meet the needs of individual students and instructors, 
  • creating a consistent framework to integrate a shared syllabus and course design across all sections,
  • improving student learning outcomes.

The program’s overarching goal is to help offer a level playing field for all students, in all course sections.

Interested in the program? Check the tabs below to learn more.

Program Outcomes

In the course of the program, the participating teams will develop the following materials:

1. Shared Syllabus. Designed by a small team of course lead faculty with OFE hands-on support, the shared syllabus will be integrated in all sections’ Canvas courses via Simple Syllabus.
The shared syllabus will also be available through a university-wide multi-section course syllabus repository that we started in the Spring of 2024. The repository can be used to locate available materials for each course and share them with newly onboarded instructors.
While the repository is still under development, you are welcome to check out what it will look like:

Montclair Course Materials

2. Course Guide to accompany the syllabus. The Course Guide, developed from a frequently used template, is written by the course lead faculty members and the OFE team representative. The guide provides information and tips about implementing the elements of the shared syllabus.

3. Canvas Course Shell, designed by the course leads with OFE support, will be copied from the course leads’ section into the other sessions’ Canvas courses.

OFE staff will be available to support the course leads and course instructors on a continuous basis and answer any questions that arise.

Pedagogical Approach

The OFE Multi-section Course Design program is built with students’ and instructors’ needs in mind. Our students’ educational assets and needs vary greatly, which can be particularly difficult to account for in large intro-level courses and sections. At the same time, multi-section courses are taught by a high-proportion of part-time faculty and instructional staff who may have little time and notice to prepare for the course and get connected to the departments’ existing resources.

Our approach to course design emphasizes

  • active learning, achieved through feasible classroom management strategies;
  • robust and practical feedback loops, to help identify individual differences in student progress and create individualized path to success in the classroom.

Past Redesigns

Below you can find sample reports from past redesigns of multisection courses that the OFE has supported (Montclair NetID needed to access):

MATH122: Calculus I

ENTR 201: Entrepreneurial Mindset and Innovation