How many pages of a course profile are necessary?

This week brings the first formal tasks of my new phase as a teacher in training. We, the students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching, are required to attend four days of a residential school. These four days coincide with Orientiation Week and we’ll be attending bits of standard O-Week, but mostly focusing on the res school.

Apart from pen and paper, the only items were advised to bring are printed versions of the course profiles. Now there was a time when the university provided print copies of the course profiles to all students. But now, mostly to save costs, these are distributed electronically and it is up to individual students to do the printing. Regardless of the course, the course profile follows a fairly standard template, which has me wondering. How many pages of a course profile do I really need to print?

After all, if it’s okay for the institution to save costs, it must be ok for me. Here’s what I found.

Course 1

3 pages of what appears to be reasonably important information, but information that is common can go. Surely it is covered in one of the myriad of guides and primers that we’ve been encouraged to read. In addition, having worked at the institution for 20 years in learning and teaching, I’m familiar with most of it.

Each assignment includes a rubric for marking. It appears to be a direct copy of what might be used by the marker. Even down to the dotted lines for comments, the lecturer’s name and a list of grades to be circled. Can’t see the need for that, especially when for 2 of the assignments that information is the only think on the page (it’s the last bit of information before the next assignment which obviously they want to start on a new page).

16 pages down to 11.

Course 2

This is the minimal course. What I think of the traditional course taught that arises when by a long-term member of staff is teaching a topic he/she knows well. Shall be interesting to see the differences evolve as the term progresses.

For example, the original course profile was only 9 pages long. The same 3 pages first removed from the profile course #1 were removed.

9 pages down to 6.

Course 3

10 pages down to 7 – same three pages.

Course 4

Again, only the same 3 pages: 13 down to 10.


So, overall not that bad, but still 14 pages. With some work on spacing in the layout of the profile more pages could be saved. Of the 3 pages I removed, there’s an argument to remove them, but then there’s also an argument that some students have had problems by not knowing that information.

One thought on “How many pages of a course profile are necessary?

  1. This is probably an issue that is going to stay with you in your teaching career. You will be faced with work programs, curriculum plans, unit plans in which abbreviation is unheard of, explicit and detailed is the norm, and a lot of paper is wasted! Particularly in senior subjects, the paper trail is huge, generally for accountability purposes. So again, shall we contextualise this into a secondary school? How do you approach balancing the need for accountability and consistency with the need of a fifteen year old for simplicity and explicitness? It is always good practice, particularly with a senior class, to make them fully aware and conversant with your own unit plan – this ensures transparency and supports global thinkers. But is it possible to reconcile your institutional needs with those of your learners? And do all fifteen year olds require the same level of scaffolding?

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