Templating Chinese Literature: The TLEF Template Project for Chinese Literature Courses at the Chinese Language Program

At the core of a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) project lie the eight Canvas templates that Dr. Xiaowen Xu and her team designed for the literature courses at the Chinese Language Program. Overall, the project aims to enhance students’ learning experience in Chinese literature courses via sustainable Canvas templates that cater for their learning needs. The templates’ design is tailored for a cluster of upper-level Chinese literature courses that have high enrollment demands

CHIN 461: Early Classical Chinese Poetry (to Han)

CHIN 463: Early Classical Chinese Poetry (Han to Tang)

CHIN 471: Later Classical Chinese Poetry (Tang)

CHIN 473: Later Classical Chinese Poetry (after Tang)

CHIN 481: Modern Chinese Literature I (Heritage)

CHIN 483: Modern Chinese Literature II (Heritage)

CHIN 491: Classical Chinese I (Heritage)

CHIN 493: Classical Chinese II (Heritage)

The templates provide students with greater accessibility, flexibility, and cross-sectional consistency in both online and in-person learning environments.

“The construction of these templates have enhanced the teaching and learning experience across multi-sections, enriched course contents with cost-saving digitized course materials, enabled students’ autonomous learning mode with self-study resources and inclusive learning accessibilities, resulting in an increase of students’ academic communication skills, and consolidated pedagogical collaboration and generated a positive team culture among instructors.”

Dr. Xu, principal investigator of the project, and her team members have worked collaboratively to improve students’ academic performance via these templates. The team mainly consists of instructors of the targeted courses, who were able to successfully create specific designs to enrich both their own teaching and students’ learning experiences.

TLEF Project Poster

A Photo of the Project Team’s Workshop during Covid-19

The project team adopted a four-step “action research” approach when designing the templates. The four steps consist of new proposals of actions and approval, experimentation in pilot sections, feedback and reviews from the pilot sections, as well as pedagogical analysis and advice. When seeking constructive advice and criticism for this project, the project team collected both professional evaluations and student feedback to determine which template designs were the most beneficial to students’ learning needs. The four steps were then repeated until the project team was able to hone in on the most effective design for the templates. 

The Project Timeline

With its extensive scope and intellectual intensity, this project took time as well as resources and required support to accomplish. The team worked strenuously over a span of roughly two and a half years to complete the project. Not only does the team consist of instructors with teaching obligations, but also 26 student research assistants, whose assistance was made possible by the Small TLEF Innovation Project Fund. Via these newly designed templates, the project aspires to improve students’ academic communication skills and learning outcomes, allow for multi-sectional consistency in course design and delivery, provide flexibility and cost-effectiveness, create online learning communities, and connect course designers with deliverers

To ensure the sustainability and multi-sectional consistency of the curriculum, the project established a system of team teaching in which the course authors also play the role of course instructors. Given the dual roles of most project contributors, their collaborative efforts further strengthened the multi-sectional and cross-year consistency in course deliveries and student-learning experiences. 

With the constant help of professional programmers and designers from Arts ISIT, the project ensures the excellent quality and sustainability of these templates. Indeed, the templates proved hugely helpful in enhancing both students and instructors’ online educational experience during the transition towards digitized learning amidst COVID-19. Although students and instructors alike initially felt unease with the sudden shift to online learning and teaching back in March 2020, the templates in fact enabled a seamless transition and enhanced learning outcomes and experiences. More than 1600 students enrolled in the upper-level Chinese literature courses provided positive feedback on the eight templates. Moreover, the project has generated a positive team culture among the instructors and made the course preparation and delivery more efficient and effective. 

CHIN Literature Students’ Feedback on the Rubrics

“The project reduced the amount of time new team members needed to adjust to both template design and teaching, which was particularly valuable during the pandemic.”

Furthermore, the templates significantly boosted students’ comfort and confidence about online learning. The project succeeded in dissolving students’ concerns with the unfamiliar online learning environment and contributed to the stable yearly enrollment of more than 3000 students in Chinese literature courses during the pandemic. At the same time, it has facilitated autonomous learning and the formation of online study groups and discussion forums.

CHIN Literature Students’ Feedback on  Self-Study Assignments

To sum up, the project’s eight Canvas templates have contributed to greater accessibility to online course materials, reinforced student-instructor connections, assured students of the quality and flexibility of online learning, and maintained cross-sectional consistency with regard to learning outcomes and course deliveries. It has considerably diversified learning modes and fostered online learning communities. The templates have enhanced students’ learning experience during this volatile period of time, keeping them both motivated about and engaged with the Chinese literature courses. 

“This course covers a wide range of knowledge points, …knowledge on the courseware, …the relevant background knowledge, … and the core idea of the course content.”


Written by Josephine Chiang

Edited by Shih-wei Wang