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 that provide foundational knowledge and skills and impact student retention and success.

Quick facts about multi-section courses at Montclair

  • Part-time instructors teach 60% of these classes
  • Part-time instructors teach 69% of 100-level multi-section courses
  • 66 Montclair courses offer15 or more sections each semester
  • In fall 2023, 87,941 of course registrations were 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.

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 the program participants 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.

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 realistic feedback loops, to help identify individual differences in student progress and create individualized path to success in the classroom.


What You Get Out of the Program

  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 ideally via Simple Syllabus. The shared syllabus will also be available through a university-wide multi-section course syllabus repository that can be accessed by OFE and ITDS as well as department faculty.
  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 short 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.
  4. *Optional. Digital Courseware. If the course lead team opts to include adaptive courseware or other learning software, an OFE representative will be available to help research and test the pool of product options. We will also work with the course lead team to integrate the chosen products with the shared syllabus, course guide, and Montclair Canvas environment.
  5. Ongoing teaching support. OFE staff will be available to support the course leads and course instructors on a continuous basis and answer any questions that arise.


Pilot Program

Gateway Course Redesign. Statistics (AY23-24)