blog navigation

Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

blog posts

  • Now More Than Ever: Why Collaborative Grading Works, Even Online

    (from Faculty Focus). Now More Than Ever: Why Collaborative Grading Works, Even Online.  Over the previous decade, researchers have made the case that engaging students in metacognition improves learning outcomes for students across fields (Zhao et al, 2014; Yeager & Dweck, 2012; Anderson, 2002). We believe one of the best ways to engage students in metacognition and self-assessment is to involve them directly in the grading process. We outline two strategies for doing so: class-generated rubrics and collaborative grading sessions. We also offer helpful guidance on using technology to enhance each, and offer tips on how students (as well as faculty) can learn how to fully engage in the learning process online.


  • Five Strategies for Mastering the Art of Answering Questions When Teaching and Presenting

    (from Faculty Focus) Five Strategies for Mastering the Art of Answering Questions When Teaching and Presenting.  In academia, we get asked a lot of questions whether we are teaching, giving research presentations, interviewing, or mentoring. This is exciting but can also be scary. The questions are often the most stressful part of teaching and presenting because we cannot truly predict or control the questions we are asked. It is important to first note that our experiences as teachers and presenters impact the experiences of our audiences, such that when we are more engaged, they are more engaged and learn better from us (Saucier, 2019a; Saucier, Miller, Martens, & Jones, in press).  For example, by bringing PEACE to our classes in the form of our Preparation, Expertise, Authenticity, Caring, and Engagement (Saucier, 2019b; Saucier & Jones, 2020), we can intentionally create class environments that promote learning. In the following, we discuss five simple strategies (such as Smile-Breathe-Think-Talk) to enhance our engagement as teachers and presenters that, in doing so, will make the experience of answering questions better for us and our audience

  • The Teaching Exchange: Fostering Critical Thinking

    (From Vanderbilt University The Center for Teaching) The Teaching Exchange: Fostering Critical Thinking. There are two general approaches that I find helpful in producing a classroom setting conductive to critical inquiry. These involve 1) the establishment of an environment in which both parties, student and teacher, function as partners in inquiry, and 2) the employment of a set of questioning strategies specifically geared to the acquisition of higher-order thinking and reasoning skills.

    Central to making students feel they are partners in a community of learners is the creation of a climate of trust, so that students feel safe in offering their own ideas. I try to foster a sense of “we-feeling” by asking, for example, “How can we explain this development? What does it mean to us?” Using plural pronouns creates a dialogue that has less of an adversarial tone and underscores the idea of students and teachers as partners in inquiry. I have also found that learning student names as quickly as possible is essential for developing trust. I give students a rationale for the value of an interactive classroom. I assure them that interaction is not designed to embarrass them, but rather to facilitate learning and make the subject matter more interesting. This lets students know they have some control over class proceedings and that their insights and contributions will be validated in our mutual quest for understanding. Here are some additional strategies

  • Variations to Traditional Multiple-Choice Tests

    (from Faculty Focus). Variations to Traditional Multiple-Choice Tests.  Many college courses employ multiple choice (MC) tests as a primary means of assessment. Although these are sometimes critiqued (Kaufman, 2001), modifications can be made to this assessment, based in cognitive science, to increase the value of this testing format. Here, we consider several alternatives to traditional MC testing: the use of student-constructed cheat sheets, collaborative testing, using student-generated test items, universal design for learning, and providing immediate feedback.

  • Improving Your Test Question

    (from University of Illinois Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning). Improving Your Test Questions. Constructing exams is one of our most difficult responsibilities as reported by faculty. And it is at the same time one of our most important responsibilities. Some of the considerations when writing test items are: whether to use subjective vs. objective items, what types of objective and subjective items to use, and how to write effective, valid items. Visit CITL’s resources here to learn more about constructing test questions and to see sample test items

  • Keeping Stress from Evolving into Distress: A Guide on Managing Student Stress through Course Design

    (from Vanderbilt Univesity Center for Teaching). Keeping Stress from Evolving into Distress: A Guide on Managing Student Stress through Course Design. Stress is an omnipresent feature of most Americans lives (American Psychological Association 2010). The American Psychological Association defines stress as a “pattern of specific and nonspecific responses an organism makes to stimulus events that disturb its equilibrium and tax or exceed its ability to cope” (Gerrig and Zimbardo 2002) . Stress affects all Americans regardless of age, gender, race, socioeconomic status or prior life experience. Typically those who are experiencing stress report feeling “overwhelmed, worried or run-down” (Alvord et al., n.d.). Now more than ever, college students feel stressed in the university setting (Yorke 2004). These feelings are particularly acute among first and second year students who may be away from home for the first time and trying to adjust to college life (Misra and McKean 2000).

    Stress can be both beneficial and harmful. Stress is beneficial when it leads to the production of energy boosts that increase alertness and help individuals power through high stress situations such as exams and/or work deadlines. This type of stress is typically referred to as eustress. On the other hand, stress is harmful when it is experienced in excess (Alvord et al., n.d.). This form of stress is referred to as distress. According to the American Psychological Association, distress can lead to adverse health outcomes that affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems (Alvord et al., n.d.). This teaching guide identified several behavioral, emotional and psychological signs of student distress and ways to minimize stress.


  • Supporting Struggling Students Through Collaborative Problem Solving

    (from Faculty Focus). Supporting Struggling Students Through Collaborative Problem Solving. Every semester faculty are faced with students who struggle with completing assignments, understanding the content, or just find it difficult to participate in class activities and discussions. For many, these struggles are connected to low grades, negative perceptions of the instructor and class, increased absences, and indicative of a general lack of engagement.  It is not uncommon for faculty to misinterpret these students as lazy, unmotivated, or just unprepared to do college-level work.  Faculty regularly reach out to assist, but some students are put into the university machinery of “student support,” where their worlds become more complex with emails connecting them to support services like tutoring and counseling, or notifying them that they are in danger of failing or not passing a course. Although this outreach is intended to motivate and help, there is a very real cognitive and emotional load that can be demoralizing if not debilitating. This is complicated, if not impossible terrain to navigate for all of us who genuinely want to see students succeed. Greene (2009) developed a framework for collaborative problem solving as a way to organize, support, and deeply engage students in identifying realistic ways to get back on track and succeed within the classroom. This framework has three steps that can be applied across multiple modalities.  All three steps are based on the fact that we are not merely disseminating information, but teaching human beings to think through content to build disciplinary skills, insights, and understanding

  • Classroom Climate: Creating a Supportive Classroom Environment

    (from Carnegie Mellon University Eberly Center). Classroom Climate: Creating a Supportive Classroom Environment. Why is classroom climate Important? The teaching-learning process is an inherently social act, and as instructors we need to be mindful of the quality of the social and emotional dynamics in our course, because they impact learning and performance. In fact, a well-established body of research has documented the effects of a “chilly classroom climate” on some students or groups of students, in particular women and other minorities (Hall, 1982).  For example, climate regulates the circulation and construction of knowledge and engenders emotions that impact learning, among other areas

  • Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom

    (from Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching Excellence). Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom. Drawing from the literature on inclusive teaching in higher education, the first section in this teaching guide considers the importance of increasing inclusivity and is framed by two overarching issues. The first issue is that of student belonging in their classrooms and in the broader campus culture. Most students struggle to transition into college, but students of less privileged and more marginal backgrounds face even greater challenges as they enter what they can perceive to be an unwelcoming or even hostile environment (Carter, Locks, Winkle-Wagner, & Pineda, 2006; Kalsner & Pistole, 2003). To help students overcome challenges integrating into college life, teachers can work to cultivate a sense of belonging among their students. Section Two of this teaching guide provides resources for teachers to increase the sense of belonging in their classrooms.

    The goals of this teaching guide are threefold: 1) to discuss the importance of inclusivity in the classroom, 2) to present examples of teaching more inclusively, and 3) to provide additional resources for further guidance.


  • Tricks and Tips for Teaching with Masks

    (from University of Michigan LSA Technology Services). Tricks and Tips for Teaching with Masks. Above and beyond masking policies for indoor spaces on campus, University of Michigan Face Covering Policy  (University of Illinois Face Covering Policy) requires all people to wear masks in any classroom or classlab. This also includes spaces where classes are being held, such as conference rooms and lab spaces. 

    Teaching with a mask on does present a number of challenges, especially if the instructor has back-to-back courses or multiple sessions on a single day.  Here are 24 Teaching Tips for Teaching with Masks; e.g., how to use a microphone, breathing techniques, and maximizing body language.