Vanderbilt Improving Didactic Educational Approaches to Learning Methods (IDEAL)


The Vanderbilt Improving Didactic Educational Approaches to Learning Methods (IDEAL) course is designed to capacitate faculty in teaching and learning competencies in order to build and strengthen the delivery of courses and programs in the health sciences. Through this course, we aim to strengthen faculty’s skills to enhance course delivery, create engaging and interactive lessons, and motivate students to put forth their best effort. To meet these goals, trainees must incorporate learning theory to maximize knowledge uptake and retention, create an inclusive and inviting learning environment, and mentor students in professional and personal development. Course assessments include, but are not limited to, pre-and post-course tests and a final presentation.  

Faculty facilitators
Educational coordinators  
  • Christopher Bozorgmehr
  • Megan Davis
  • Sara Jacobs
  • Chase Stober 

ABV Partnership and Faculty Fellows 

This course was contextualized and designed for faculty at Bayero University Kano as part of the grant, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH)-Bayero University Kano (BUK)-Vanderbilt: Developing Future Leaders in Child Neurology and Epilepsy Research (ABV). ABV builds upon the foundation of successful NIH-funded collaborations between Vanderbilt and BUK and AKTH. The ABV Faculty Teaching Fellows were selected as future research leaders in northern Nigeria and are tasked with developing and teaching new courses at BUK with mentorship from Vanderbilt faculty. This course aims to address the needs of future research leaders and prepare them to mentor ABV Scholars and ABV Executive Scholars.  

Course Competencies 

  1. Effectively design and develop curriculum and courses  
  2. Create engaging and interactive lessons 
  3. Incorporate learning theory to maximize knowledge uptake and retention 
  4. Create an inclusive and inviting learning environment 
  5. Mentor students effectively for professional and personal development 

Course Structure 

The Vanderbilt IDEAL course is divided into eight workshops exploring selected topics in teaching, student learning, course planning, and mentoring. Each workshop is led by Vanderbilt faculty with area expertise. The workshops are designed to be an interactive learning experience. Each day carries the expectation for Teaching Fellows to attend class (9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with tea and lunch breaks), complete assignments prior to class meetings, participate thoughtfully in class sessions, and submit all activities and assessments on time. Materials and assignments, including self-reflection and mini presentations, are designed as stepping stones to help trainees develop, revise, and hone a course. The last day is reserved for concluding presentations and reports. Certificates will be awarded to trainees who complete at least 80% of course activities and requirements. 

Daily Schedule and Logistical Information
  • Daily workshops start promptly at 9:00 a.m. and conclude by 3:30 p.m.  
  • We will have small breaks throughout the day for tea/coffee, snacks, lunch, and Dhuhr.  

Course Syllabus

  • In Day 1, trainees will be introduced to the history of learning theory, domains and styles of learning, and Bloom’s Taxonomy. Trainees will learn how to apply these ideas to match content to learning strategies in order to design a learner-centered classroom that motivates students.

    Day 1 PowerPoint presentation 

    "Tool kit" and reflection guide

    Module Topics Learning Objectives
    Learning Theories 
    • Describe the evolution of learning theories 
    • Apply learning theories to design a student-centered classroom 
    Domains of Learning  
    • Explain the three learning domains 
    • Design student-centered instruction using the learning domains 
    Bloom’s Taxonomy 
    • Explain the utility of Bloom’s Taxonomy 
    • Design student-centered instruction using Bloom’s Taxonomy  
    Learning Styles 
    • Identify different learning styles 
    • Apply learning styles to a syllabus or teaching methods 
  • In Day 2, trainees will begin to develop teaching philosophies with their own beliefs, styles, and goals. Trainees will learn how to develop their own syllabus with specific learning goals and objectives. Next, they will implement backward mapping to help with identifying assessment approaches. Trainees will be able to describe the difference between diagnostic, summative, and formative assessment.

    Day 2 PowerPoint Presentation

    Teaching Philosophy Template

    Course Planning Template

    Module Topics Learning Objectives
    Creating a Teaching Philosophy
    • Understand the key components of a teaching philosophy 
    • Articulate your teaching beliefs, goals, style, and practices 
    • Create your own teaching philosophy 
    Syllabus Development
    • Understand the basics of syllabus development 
    • Appreciate how the tone of the syllabus affects learners 
    Course Goals and Learning Objectives 
    • Use the “backwards design” model to thoughtfully plan and design a course 
    • Write clear course goals  
    • Develop learning objectives for a lesson using the ABCD & SMART methods as well as Bloom’s Taxonomy  
    Grading and Assessment, part 1 
    • Use backward mapping to identify assessment approaches 
    • Define steps of assessment 
    • Apply Bloom’s taxonomy to assessment approaches 
    • Describe characteristics of effective assessment 
    • Describe purpose and differences between diagnostic, summative, and formative assessment 
  • In Day 3, trainees will continue to learn about Grading and Assessment, including the selection of assessment tools and distinguishing between formative and summative assessments. Guidance will be given on how to provide effective feedback. Trainees will learn about the best practices in course design and revise their course as needed.

    Day 3 PowerPoint Presentation

    Module Topics Learning Objectives
    Grading and Assessment, part 2
    • Select appropriate assessment tools 
    • Design multiple choice assessments
    • Develop rubrics
    Providing Effective Feedback
    • Understand the main objectives of giving feedback 
    • Use the characteristics of giving good feedback 
    Course Organization
    • Apply best practices to design a course 


  • In Day 4, trainees will learn about the theory of andragogy (adult learners) and considerations for designing courses for adults. Strategies for inspiring student motivation as well as fostering metacognition will be covered. Specific attention will be given to learning activities that revolve around lectures and facilitating discussion, including how to create and deliver quality presentations.

    Day 4 PowerPoint Presentation

    Module Topics Learning Objectives

    Teaching adult learners 

    • Identify the principles of andragogy  
    • Use the principles of andragogy to design a course 

    Motivating students 

    • Understand theories behind motivating students 
    • Select and modify strategies to motivate students 


    • Explain the use and importance of metacognition in the classroom  
    • Identify strategies to help students think about their learning 
    • Apply fundamentals of metacognition to course design and teaching

    Selecting learning activities and facilitating discussion 

    • Evaluate, select, and modify teaching methods to be appropriate for course size and type 
    • Explain elements of effective discussions 
    • Create discussion questions 
    • Use a variety of activities to increase student discussion 
  • In Day 5, trainees will give presentations on their revised course syllabus and receive constructive feedback from their peers. Ensuring that courses within a program have complementary course goals and learning objectives is essential to reducing unnecessary redundancy and providing students with a well-rounded curriculum. Guidance will be given in this module to help trainees understand the importance of aligning courses and the process of aligning courses within a curriculum. After learning about each others’ courses in the presentations and about how to align courses, trainees will have time to collaborate on the curriculum development and revision.

    Day 5 PowerPoint Presentation

    Mapping the Curriculum Template

    Presentation rubric - revised course

    Module Topics Learning Objectives 

    Aligning courses across the curriculum 

    • Review courses within a program to identity cross-cutting activities and competencies 
    • Create learning activities that are complementary to and build upon activities in other courses within a program 
  • In Day 6, trainees will learn about the role and importance of student diversity in teaching, identify ways to resolve uncivil behavior in class, and understand more about their own and others’ emotional intelligence in relation to teaching.

    Day 6 PowerPoint Presentation

    Module Topics Learning Objectives

    Diversity and inclusion 

    • Explain the role of culture and personal experience in the classroom and how diversity enhances personal and professional growth 
    • Identify forms of microaggression, its negative impact the classroom environment, and how to address these aggressions 
    • Understand and address diverse needs of students 

    Conflict resolution and difficult learners 

    • Identify uncivil classroom behavior 
    • Use prevention strategies for conflicts and uncivil behavior 
    • Effectively assess, diagnose, and intervene with difficult students 

    Emotional intelligence 

    • Discuss the importance of social and emotional intelligences in teaching 
    • Identify your social style and manage your emotions 
    • Identify social styles of your students and tailor instruction appropriately
  • In Day 7, trainees will give presentations on their personal teaching philosophy. Trainees will have brief overview of considerations when implementing the "flipped classroom" model and then learn about best practices in presentation design to maximize learners' knowledge uptake. There will be time to meet individually with course instructors and to work individually or collaboratively on course development.

    Day 7 PowerPoint Presentation

    Presentation rubric - Teaching Philosophy

    Delivering quality presentations 

    • Understand principles of presentation design 
    • Create presentations that maximizes learners’ absorption of knowledge
    • Deliver effective presentations
  • In Day 8, trainees will learn how to facilitate healthy mentor relationships through using effective communication strategies, ethical practice, cultural competence, and awareness of bias. Trainees will also learn how to apply documented principles of mentoring in order to empower mentees, foster independence, and positively influence the mentoring culture. Topics will include mentorship best practices, mentorship culture, and developing a mentoring philosophy.

    Day 8 PowerPoint Presentation

    Mentor-Mentee Expectations Matrix

    Mentoring Philosophy Template

    Module Topics Learning Objectives 

    Introduction to mentoring 

    • Define mentoring in the context of an academic setting 
    • Identify benefits and obstacles of effective mentorship 
    • Understand mentoring frameworks 

    Mentor and mentee goals and expectations 

    • Explain various roles of mentors​
    • Describe the importance of setting goals and expectations at the beginning of the mentoring relationship ​
    • Help mentees create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals to track short- and long-term progress​
    • Craft a mentoring contract to establish expectations with mentees​

    Effective communication and conflict resolution​

    • Describe attributes of active listening 
    • Use strategies for effective communication
    • Address barriers and challenges related to communication including technology issues, language barriers, and response times
    • Resolve common challenges and issues in mentoring

    Mentoring philosophy 

    • Explain the purpose and use of a mentoring philosophy  
    • Develop a mentoring philosophy 
  • In Day 9, trainees will give a presentation of their revised syllabus. Trainees who have completed at least 80 of the course will receive a Certificate of Accomplishment at the conclusion of the day.

    Presentation rubric - Final revised course