Case Study: Curriculum Development


In this case study, we cover the process of taking client team members through the instructional design of developing a curriculum.

Our client for this project was Chandos, a construction firm considered to be one of North America’s most collaborative and innovative builders. During a multifaceted project with Chandos, the head of the training team requested support for his team of subject matter experts who were lacking experience in instructional design. The company already had a significant number of documented operations processes from an earlier project we lead for them. They wanted to implement additional training across the organization to develop standardization and knowledge transfer. The subject matter expert needed guidance and course design and online training development.


One objective of the project was to teach a repeatable process of developing curriculum to the subject matter experts, so they can build courses based on the process documentation we had already delivered. They identified the topic of change order management they wanted to work on as a group that was a high priority in their skill development plan. The objective of this project was to create one learning curriculum that formed the foundation of an online course.

My Role

My role was that of a guide and mentor. Initially, I customized this program to the needs of the customer, providing learning content and mentorship. I facilitated the group’s sessions and provided supporting materials. I also reviewed the learning management system Cornerstone and provided considerations for implementation of the online course. Once the group had worked on the curriculum, I reviewed it and provided suggestions for improvement. Finally, I provided documentation that will help in repeating the process in future curriculum development projects.

The Process

We had multiple brainstorming sessions with a purpose to create a bank of ideas for their course design. The group work together during the facilitated sessions, and completed assigned homework between sessions that are reviewed and commented on. I took the team through the seven step process for engaging curriculum design from my Big Leap Bootcamp®.

The first step is to get clear on the audience, who will take the course and what are the major pain points this course will solve? By answering these questions course creators will gain clarity on the definition of the objectives.

In step two, we define the course objectives. Course creators will think carefully about the problem to solve. Answer the four questions about the course in the order presented here.

  1. If they do the course, what effect will it have to?
  2. How will they do this? And how will you help them?
  3. What do they need to learn?
  4. Why would they want to do what is required to achieve the transformation?

Now the course creators will analyze the outcomes of the course and use the correct words to describe and communicate the learning objectives by using Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Next, we’ll drill down to the module level by using the same exercise.

Step five is the reality check. Course creators typically include too much content in a course. Ask yourself, can all this realistically be taught in one course without overwhelming the learner? Are all the learning objectives achieved if a learner does the course as designed?

Next to go to step six inventory. Create an inventory of assets such as videos, documents, templates, forums, etc. that already exist and identify the gaps.

Step seven. Consider the interactive elements. In your “how-question” you have identified how to engage your learner. Course creators will consider carefully how to deploy the learning and engage their audience during and after the learning provided.

The Result

This project lead to a completed curriculum for change order management, and a systematic process for curriculum development for a team of four people in the training department. Developing people leads to improved financial results. We are proud to share this Client Testimonial, especially the recognition that the outcome of the curriculum following my holistic process was significantly different and more well rounded, was a satisfying result for us. The client is happy to have a practical approach to use consistent likely to help them deliver effective content faster and more reliably.

Do you have subject matter experts who struggle with instructional design and course development, we’d be happy to help. Ask us about our Big Leap Bootcamp® designed to guide a team of internal experts through curriculum design and course development.

About the author 

Petra Mayer