Creating Visually Effective Course Materials

Last offered: Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Presenter: Chris Clark, Assistant Director of the Kaneb Center


This workshop is about using principles of psychology and design to make course materials more efficient and effective. Instructors frequently hand out material in the form of syllabi, assignments, exams, lab forms, and so on. Handouts are commonly limited to black text on a white background. Using color and images can add meaning and make materials more effective. Crowded pages are hard to digest. A little extra space makes a document longer, but can also make it easier to follow. In this workshop you'll learn how to use cognitive psychology and graphic design to improve your course materials.

Come prepared to give one of your handouts a makeover!

Learning Goals:

Improve student learning by creating effective course materials that

  • Follow principles of visual design and cognitive psychology

  • Incorporate images, color, and other design elements.


  1. MS Word document you'd like to update: worksheet, exam, syllabus, CV, report ...

  2. Optional: Mac laptop if you're uncomfortable with Windows


(see the update of this session)

In the Library:

Graphics For Learning - Cover

Graphics for Learning, by Clark & Lyons
(online access - ND only)

E-learning and the Science of Instruction, by Clark & Mayer
(online access - ND only)

White Space is Not Your Enemy, by Golombisky & Hagen
(online access - ND only)

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, by Weinschenk
(online access - ND only)

Online Resources:


Short video tutorials

Visual syllabus



May help complete a requirement for the Teaching Well Using Technology program.