Instructional Best Practices

These best practices pull from the wealth of institutional knowledge across Delta and are combined with current educational research. These resources offer syllabus guidelines, tips for planning your courses, strategies for creating assessments and tools to help struggling students.  Consider meeting with an Instructional Designer for personalized support.

Syllabus guidelines

Building a syllabus is easy with Simple Syllabus.  It auto populates information from the registrar's office and D2L so all you have to do is fill in the blanks with section-specific procedures.

Course information

    • Course title
    • Course prefix and number
    • Semester and year
    • Credits/contact hours

Minimum prerequisite skills

Technology or previous course requirements are clearly stated.  This includes Zoom or Respondus.

Instructor contact information

    • Name
    • Email
    • Office location
    • Phone number
    • Office hours

Communication policy

    • What is the preferred method of contact?
    • What are the best times to contact you?
    • How quickly should a student expect a response?
    • How will information be communicated?
    • How often are students expected to check their Delta email?
    • Every effort should be made to respond to student communications within 72 hours.

Outcomes and objectives

Course outcomes are clearly stated from the student’s perspective in every module where they are relevant. They can be found in the course catalog.

Textbook information

Include an ISBN and any other materials that are required for the course.

Attendance policy

Define “attendance” and consequences for not attending your course.

To maintain Financial Aid compliance, Delta College must be able to verify that students have attended class.  In online classes, this means each class section will use the D2L gradebook.  

The external auditors must be able to view and document attendance of randomly selected students enrolled in distance education/online classes.  As indicated below in one federal regulation, evidence of participation is required.  To ensure that our auditors can verify compliance with federal regulations, all online class sections will utilize the D2L platform, specifically the gradebook.

"To avoid returning all funds for a student that did not begin attendance, a school must be able to document “attendance at any class.” … a school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity, such as by contributing to an online discussion or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course-related question."

Grading policy

Explain what weight/percentage/points that assessments carry with regard to the final grade.

Briefly describe assignments and/or where to find detailed assignment guidelines, instructions, rubrics, due dates, required methods of submission, etc. in your course. 

Student support statement

It can be challenging to do your best in class if you have trouble meeting basic needs like safe shelter, sleep and nutrition. If you have difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or lack a safe and stable place to live, I encourage you to visit the Services and Support section of Inside Delta for resources available on-campus. In addition, you can dial 2-1-1 from any phone or visit for a 24/7 connection to local community resources.


    • Specify which activities require on campus attendance.
    • Include exam and testing policies.
    • Include Delta resources such as ODR, WRIT or LLIC.

Use Simple Syllabus

Planning your course

Backwards Design is a research-based framework for planning a course.  It emphasizes the importance of starting with a clearly defined end goal and building everything backwards in alignment with that goal.  This helps instructors optimize efficiency and helps students understand the purpose for learning activities.  This process is similar to making a new recipe; it starts with a clear picture of the end goal.

Step 1: Outcomes and objectives

Delta College provides the outcomes and objectives in the course catalog.  Instructors can add these Learning Outcomes in to D2L course shells and align them to learning activities if applicable.

Step 2: Assessment

Design assessments that measure progress toward course outcomes. 

Step 3: Learning activities

Determine how students will apply their knowledge in a low-pressure environment.  This could be the form of a discussion board, reflection, matching, poll, journal entry, or worksheet.

Step 4: Content delivery

Add the content.  Content can be delivered via articles, books, audio files, videos, webinars, or podcasts.  It's recommended that instructors provide content in multiple formats to accommodate different learner preferences.


How are you determining whether students have met the course goals?  Are they making progress in the right direction? How can you use data from the assessments to inform your instruction for the next class session?

Assessments should...

    • Align with course outcomes/objectives
    • Include evaluation criteria so students know how they are being graded (consider using a Rubric)
    • Provide opportunities for self reflection
    • Take a variety of formats for students to demonstrate achievement of outcomes

Assessment ideas

Remember information:

    • Fill-in-the-blank
    • Multiple Choice
    • Labeling

Understand information:

    • Summarize
    • Compare/contrast
    • Categorizing

Apply information:

    • Scavenger Hunt
    • Application Cards: Ask students to come up with a few applications based on news events,
    • organizations, their own experience, etc.
    • Analyze or Evaluate Information:

Case study

    • Critiques
    • Concept Map
    • Write a paper

Create information:

    • Research project
    • Business plan
    • Prototype

Struggling students

The Student Support System (SSS) Program is developed for faculty, staff and Student Success Advisors to work together as a team in an involved, proactive and supportive manner to increase student retention and success.  Consider filling out an referral for students that are struggling in the first few weeks of class. This will alert counseling and advising to keep an eye on this student and reach out to provide extra support.

The Early Alert program is not meant for students dealing with a crisis.  For crisis management, follow these guidelines.

If the situation is not urgent in nature, we would ask that you direct students to the Counseling Intake Form. Once submitted, a counselor will follow up with the student within 24 business hours.

If you need immediate assistance for a student in crisis please contact Public Safety at 9111 (989-686-9111). Public Safety may also be available to consult with you regarding emergency assistance for a student in crisis who is not presently on campus.