Every course fulfills multiple objectives for students, instructors, departments, and institutions and all of these objectives should be taken into account as a course is being developed. Designing a course that will transfer elsewhere may be an objective in developing a course, but sometimes other objectives are more important than transferability. For example, if an institution has determined that students have difficulty with certain material, it may develop a course to fill the gaps in students' knowledge and bring their skills up to a standard that will help them achieve success in their subsequent studies. This is sound pedagogical practice, but the course may be denied transfer credit because it is viewed as preparatory. Another example is when faculty expertise in a department may make it possible to offer a course on a particular topic, but the course may be so distinctive that other institutions may not view it as relevant to their own programs.
If a course is designed to transfer, its content and structure should be consistent with the norms, content, and standards of the institutions at which transfer credit is sought. It does not have to be identical to a course at a receiving institution, but it must demonstrate enough similarity or relevancy to the receiving program's content to be accepted for credit within that program.
A detailed course outline is the starting point of any articulation process, since articulation demands a close examination of course elements in order to establish equivalence. BCCAT has developed a Transfer-Friendly Course Outline Form to help reduce the number of situations where transfer decisions are denied or delayed because of inadequate content or detail in a course outline.