Customer Story: The University of Pittsburgh Begins Their Curriculum Transformation Journey With a First Course “Unboxing”
By coursetune Team
January 12, 2021
CourseTune Customer Success Stories

Connecting Students To Workforce Needs Through Curriculum DesignUniversity of Pittsburgh College of Pharmacy Customer Story

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy is developing a new program to attract students. The new Master of Science in Pharmacoanalytics program will help connect students to the growing workforce needs in healthcare and data science. “Clearly, our learners are changing,” says Sandra Kane-Gill, the co-designer for the program, “To meet the students’ needs, the program and curriculum were built on the fact that we want them to do and to be able to show skills by the time they are done with the master’s program, as opposed to just having the knowledge.”

The Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics is using backward design to develop this program. They start with competencies and then build out the learning objectives to support those competencies. The program defines these as “performance objectives.” They’ve chosen these words intentionally to promote the idea that performance objectives are skills that the students must demonstrate to show growth in the competency. They’ve broken some courses into components, so students can select the smaller one-credit courses that support their needs. Overall, the School of Pharmacy and Therapeutics has rethought the “old ways” of curriculum design and follows a more learner-centered approach.

Finding The Best Curriculum Design Tool

The school needed the right curriculum development tool to support their innovative program design. We’ve designed Coursetune for curriculum transformations. It has the right built-in features, including:

  • A learner-centered approach
  • The use of Backward Design
  • The ability to connect learning objectives to assessments 

Coursetune displays the curriculum in visual maps with layers and presents diverse ways of viewing the structure. It empowers faculty and staff to see those opportunities and a-ha moments they would otherwise miss. As Kristin Powers, Coursetune, Inc.’s Director of Storytelling and Client Engagement, puts it, “One of my favorite moments working with schools is when an instructor gets to see their course inside Coursetune for the first time. It’s like a course unboxing, a revealing moment of excitement.”

The First Chapter Of The Coursetune Transformation Story


Unboxing the Pharm 5211 course exposes gaps in course activities

Unboxing the Pharm 5211 course exposes gaps in course activities (click to enlarge).

The new master’s program is in the preliminary stages of a multi-year development program, but Coursetune is already paying dividends. The Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics has begun an iterative course development process within the

Coursetune environment. They’re acclimating to the features and benefits of Coursetune. They’ve gone through the first training using their files that the Coursetune team has imported for them. Like all Coursetune customers, The Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics had the choice to import the curriculum files they have — no matter their format. Read more about the import process and how it can accelerate your alignment journey. 

Colleen Culley, PharmD, BCPS, is the Coursetune implementation administrator at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics. She took part in the import process, during which Coursetune imported her course as an example. As a result of this process, Colleen quickly saw the functionality of Coursetune’s patented visualizations of courses and programs with her material. Colleen has taught this course for nearly a decade. She wanted to revisit it with a fresh perspective. Her familiarity with the class and her openness to change made this course ideal for a first data load into Coursetune. The Coursetune support team used her Word documents, PowerPoint decks, and spreadsheets to create her course framework within Coursetune. 

Curriculum Design That Retrains The Brain

Viewing all the assignments for Drug Literature & Education during the Pharm 5211 course unboxing.

Viewing all the Drug Literature and Education assignments during the Pharm 5211 course unboxing (click to enlarge).

“It was really amazing to see how different it was!” Colleen exclaimed upon seeing her course in Coursetune as a course graph. 

“It was retraining my brain to think differently– I was like ‘why did I write that as a course outcome? I didn’t have any learning objectives that matched with it!’  and so, I could see the mind of the student why there was a disconnect with some of the things I was asking them to do because I didn’t have appropriate learning objectives to match up with that competency. It’s a fun new way to think,” Colleen reflected.

“Seeing my course in Coursetune helped me to visualize the disconnects between course outcomes and session learning objectives. I would not have been able to detect these gaps without the use of the tools in Coursetune,” Colleen said.

“I think it’s huge–I have a slogan I use when developing the Masters of Science in Pharmacoanalytics, which is ‘Repetition without redundancy.’ I’m trying to teach a similar skill in each course, but not with the same activity,” Sandra Kane-Gill explained, “I can see how this can help me show people what that would look like.”

We need to rethink how we actually develop a course and how we develop a curriculum. So, I think we do need to step back. It’s actually making me think a lot about the more traditional courses I’ve been teaching. I have this one course that’s packed with information, and I’m thinking, do I really need to teach the students all this? I want to teach it to them, and it is interesting, so why not share it? But that’s not really helpful to them, so I’m rethinking how I’m doing some of my courses because of this as well, so it’s been helpful,” Sandra added at the end of the first look of the program in Coursetune. 

Looking Forward With Student Outcomes In Mind

Watch the video to see Colleen Culley, PharmD, BCPS, react to her CourseTune course “unboxing.”

Watch: Colleen Culley, PharmD, BCPS, reacts to her Coursetune course “unboxing.”

The story of transformation is just beginning for the new master’s program at The University of Pittsburgh. They’ve written their first chapter in the learner-centered way they’ve designed their new Master of Science in Pharmacoanalytics program. “The story that I can tell is powerful, even with just one course,” Colleen adds.

 “I’m looking forward to continuing to work on this course within Coursetune for the upcoming semester– to rethink how to write the outcomes and objectives and ensure that I am meeting my goals and the student needs for the course,” Colleen concludes.


Are You Ready To Transform Your Curriculum?

Coursetune delivers one place to design, manage, and plan your curriculum. Our unique visual curriculum maps equip you with a common platform to help faculty, staff, and leadership focus on the big picture while revealing how learning objectives, competencies, and accreditation criteria impact student outcomes. Coursetune supplies you with the communication and workflow tools that promote collaboration and unlock innovation across your institution. 

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