Teaching Tip: Depth vs. Breadth

As you plan your courses, think of the curriculum to be learned as a rectangle – with the horizontal sides = breadth and the vertical sides = depth.  

In this image, the area of the rectangle basically remains constant regardless of how you construct the rectangle. Which do you need for your course, greater breadth or greater depth? You cannot have it both ways. Mathematically inclined folks will remind us that the maximum area of a rectangle with the smallest parameter is a square. Perhaps you also need to make your curriculum more of a square than a very narrow, but long rectangle.


Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the student does. SHRE and Open Press.

Submitted by:
Phyllis Blumberg, Ph. D.
Assistant Provost, Director of the Teaching and Learning Center
University of the Sciences