North Central College - Naperville, IL

Teaching Methods

Below, find descriptions and examples of as well as suggestions for implementing a variety of instructional methods.

 

video= video resource

 

General

video Video series - Faculty discuss how they use a variety of instructional techniques including classroom clickers, mastery quizzes, guided discovery using case studies, in-class writing activities, and many more. Although this series was constructed for psychology instructors, many topics apply to any discipline.

video Video series - Award-winning teachers at Stanford discuss a variety of teaching topics. iTunes required.

Teaching handbook - very extensive document with lots of good advice on designing a class that motivates learning, matching teaching methods to objectives, measuring and evaluating student learning, collecting feedback to improve teaching and learning, teaching to learn, and more - from The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State University

"Student ratings of teaching: A summary of the research and literature" - IDEA Paper 50 - from The IDEA Center

"Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education" - frequently-cited article that describes principles distilled from the research on teaching and learning

"Implementing the seven principles: Technology as lever" - suggestions for using technology to leverage these principles

Collection of ideas for using technology to leverage seven principles

 

Active Learning and Engagement

INTRODUCTION: Making active learning work - a good, detailed tutorial - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the Univ. of Minnesota

What is active learning? - from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of California, Davis

"Learning by doing" - essay by Richard M. Felder and Rebecca Brent

"Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom" - another good overview from Charles Bonwell and James Eison

Active learning strategies - IDEA paper 53 - from The IDEA Center

Framing the Interactive Engagement Classroom - "This page contains a set of instructor-written materials from a variety of disciplines for generating student buy-in to innovative classroom techniques." - from the Science Education Initiative at the University of Colorado

Active learning techniques - organized by the complexity of the activity - from the University of Texas at Arlington

"25 ways for teaching without talking" - from Goeff Petty

EXAMPLE: Two-minute pause in the lecture - from the Center for Teaching Development at UC-San Diego

EXAMPLE: The four-question technique - This particular technique involves a four-question set that gets students actively responding to the material they are studying. They analyze, reflect, relate, and question via these four prompts:

  • “Identify one important concept, research finding, theory, or idea … that you learned while completing this activity.”
  • “Why do you believe that this concept, research finding, theory, or idea … is important?”
  • “Apply what you have learned from this activity to some aspect of your life.”
  • “What question(s) has the activity raised for you? What are you still wondering about?” [You might need to prohibit the answer “nothing”.]

Overcoming obstacles to more student-centered instruction - good article describing a number of obstacles and strategies to overcome them

"Basic instructor habits to keep students engaged" - by Carl Wieman

Promoting active learning - 29 specific techniques and strategies

Active learning resources - quite a few here

video Engaging students in large classes - (7:40) an experienced teachers describes how she engages her students to be active learners - from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan

video Using technology and collaboration to engage students - (16:27) an experienced teacher "discusses how he revised a course to increase student motivation and engagement using project-based learning and technology tools, such as blogs and wikis." - from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan

"Top ten strategies to integrate social justice into the classroom" - from the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development at San Francisco State University

"Flipping" the classroom

INTRODUCTION - Typically, instructors present information in class and then ask students to use, think about, or apply that information outside of class through assignments or homework.  "Flipping a course" refers to reversing that process so that students are learning more of the information outside of class, and class time is then used for more student engagement through application, discussion, and other uses of the information.  Primarily, it is about using class less for information sharing and more for student engagement.  Essay by Dakin Burdick.

INTRODUCTION - Another good description  - from Faculty Focus

Infographic describing flipping the classroom - from Knewton, an adaptive learning company

BIBLIOGRAPHY - Some good resources on flipping the classroom - from The Faculty Center of Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Florida

Jose Antonio Bowen - 2013 NCC Faculty Retreat speaker - Dr. Bowen was essentially suggesting that we consider flipping our classrooms given the vast wealth of content available to students on the Web.  Let students acquire more of that content outside of class and spend more time in class actively engaging the students in the ideas.  Read and view much more at his website "Teaching Naked."

"Looking for 'flippable' moments in your classroom" - from Faculty Focus

 

Team Teaching

The "10 Commandments" of team teaching - good advice from experienced team teachers 

"Perspectives on team teaching" - some good tips

Essay on team teaching - from Jim Davis

 

Giving Lectures

INTRODUCTION: "Effective lecturing" - good introduction and overview - IDEA Paper 46 - from The IDEA Center

video Designing smart lectures - a good, detailed tutorial -- includes some video examples - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the Univ. of Minnesota

video "How to speak: Lecture tips from Patrick Winston" - (45:53) from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University

Lecturing effectively - some good suggestions from the Handbook on instruction from Florida State University

Tips on effective teaching (particularly lecturing) - This is a good checklist to review as you examine your lecturing or discussion-leading - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University.

Interactive lectures - "This module on Interactive Lectures has strategies and specific examples of activities to involve students in large and small lecture-based classes." - from the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College

"The Interactive lecture: Reconciling group and active learning strategies with traditional instructional formats" - more on the concept of interactive lectures with specific strategies

Including "change-ups" in lectures - To recapture or maintain student attention, it is often necessary to intersperse lecture with active engagement in some way.

Twenty ways to make lectures more participatory - from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University

Effective note-giving - Here is an essay on how to get better notes from your students that describes a model which includes giving the students some notes and encouraging the student construction of other notes. - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Using graphic organizers - IDEA Paper 51 - from the IDEA Center - "This paper explores how to use a range of graphic organizers to better communicate course concepts and ideas to students. You may find an organizer that will help you communicate concepts and the relationship among concepts more effectively while helping your students make stronger learning connections." (Becky Clemente)

Using cues, questions, and advance organizers

What is and how to create good advance organizers - from The Northeast Texas Network Consortium Coordinating Office

 

Case-based Teaching

INTRODUCTION: Using cases in teaching - good, detailed overview of the process - from Information Technology Services at Penn State University

EXAMPLES: Case Study Teaching in Science - a tremendous resource with many well-constructed cases, articles on teaching through cases, and more - from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science

Teaching using case studies - another good overview - from the UK Centre for Materials Education

Resources for case writing - from The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State University

"Using case studies to teach science" - from the American Institute of Biological Sciences

 

Problem-based Learning (PBL)

INTRODUCTION: Problem-based learning - from the PBL Network at the Illinois Math and Science Academy - also find a nice summary of the common steps of PBL, and sample problems/scenarios/tutorials.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Problem-based learning - articles on PBL from the PBL Network

EXAMPLES: The Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education at the University of Delaware provides some sample syllabi and problems for PBL. If you register for free for the PBL Clearinghouse at this site you get access to a much larger number of examples across many disciplines.

Resources on PBL - The Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship at Samford University provides an excellent overview of PBL, a good description of the process of implementing it, and a large collection of course examples (portfolios).

Problem-based case learning - a variation on problem-based learning using cases - includes a thorough description of the process as well as videos of PBCL at work

video Video example - (24:48) This video uses a couple problem examples to take you through the process of using problem-based learning, including video of students working on a problem. It provides a very detailed illustration of how PBL can work.

 

Just-in-Time Teaching

INTRODUCTION - from the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College

 

Fostering Discussion

General

INTRODUCTION: "Effective classroom discussions" - a good overview of the purposes, processes, and roles of classroom discussion - IDEA Paper 49 - from The IDEA Center

video "The art of discussion leading" - (29:58) Watch a good model of discussion leading as they discuss what good discussion leading looks like - from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University

video Discussing challenging issues - (4:00) from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan

"Facilitating discussion: A brief guide" - an excellent and rather detailed set of suggestions for encouraging participation, creating rapport, using small groups and more - from the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell University

Effective discussion questions - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford Univ.

"Getting more out of classroom discussion" - from the Center for Teaching & Learning at UC-Santa Cruz

"Structuring discussions: Online and face-to-face" - some good ideas from an essay by Maryellen Weimer

Increasing student participation

Increasing student participation - some suggestions - from The Teaching Center at Washington University in St. Louis

"Encouraging student participation in discussion" - a good set of strategies - from Tools of Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis

How to get students to talk in class - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University

Getting shy students to participate - a few ideas - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Berkeley

"How do I bring out shy students?" - a few more ideas - from the Teaching and Learning Center at the Univ. of Oregon

Grading participation

Grading class participation - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Grading participation: A feedback form - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

"An intriguing participation policy" - from Maryellen Weimer

Specific methods/suggestions

Asking questions

What are good questions? - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

"Answering and asking questions" - some good suggestions - IDEA Paper 31 - from The IDEA Center

Asking and answering questions - suggestions for asking good questions and responding to student questions - from the Office of Educational Development at Berkeley

"Asking more effective questions" - contrasts convergent and divergent questions as well as high-level and low-level questioning to provide a lot of good suggestions - from William McComas and Linda Abraham

Responding to wrong or not-very-good answers - from The Faculty Development Program at Northern Arizona University

Student-led discussion groups - from The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State University

Feedback discussions - a technique to foster the development of discussion skills - "Divide the class into two groups. One group will be part of an inside circle having a discussion and the other half will be taking notes on group dynamics and the quality of the discussion. The inside group will be given a designated number of questions to discuss on a particular topic. (At the midpoint in the class the groups will switch roles.) The instructor takes his/her place in the outside circle and should not interfere unless absolutely necessary." - from the Teaching and Learning Center at the Univ. of Oregon

Using debates - an example of a format to promote debate and reflection on it - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Berkeley

Some more suggestions for fostering discussion/participation - from the Center for Teaching Excellence at the Univ. of Maryland

Some more suggestions for fostering discussion - from the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the Univ. of Washington

"Engaging students in discussion online" - from the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the Univ. of Washington

EXAMPLE: Two-minute pause in the lecture - from the Center for Teaching Development at UC-San Diego

Cooperative Controversies - As noted in this essay, students are often reluctant to contradict their peers.  Here is a structured process for encouraging students to discuss more than one side of an issue. - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

 

Fostering Deep Learning

INTRODUCTION: "Promoting deep learning" - IDEA Paper 47 - from The IDEA Center

Students learn constructively (Part 1 - 8:13), (Part 2 - 6:19), (Part 3 - 6:00) - Excellent video series on how students best learn and what we as instructors can do to promote that learning

Using graphic organizers - IDEA Paper 51 - from the IDEA Center - "This paper explores how to use a range of graphic organizers to better communicate course concepts and ideas to students. You may find an organizer that will help you communicate concepts and the relationship among concepts more effectively while helping your students make stronger learning connections." (Becky Clemente)

 

 

Fostering Writing

"Better student essays through staging and scaffolding assignments" - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

"Strategies to improve student writing" - IDEA Paper 48 - from The IDEA Center

Teaching with reading journals - Have students reflect on the course readings or other elements of the course - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Developing writing assignments

"Checklist for designing writing assignments"

Evaluating writing assignments

"Ten recommendations for evaluating student writing"

Responding to student writing - some advice

"Using general comment sheets" - "A general comment sheet, as the term suggests, is a set of remarks about an assignment that is photocopied and distributed to a class as a whole. The comments on such a sheet may address the students' overall performance on the assignment, discuss common strengths and weaknesses, and provide positive examples drawn from the students' work." - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

 

Fostering Thinking

"Promoting students' intellectual growth" - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

"Critical thinking: Why is it so hard to teach?" - from Daniel Willingham

Generating "irrefutable" statements - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Identifying similarities and differences - good research-based advice on how and why to encourage students to recognize similarities and differences - from Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory

"Helping your students develop critical thinking skills" - IDEA Paper 37 - from The IDEA Center

Nonlinguistic representation - Research finds that students learn best when learning through both linguistic and nonlinguistic representations, such as images, auditory input, movement, and graphic organizers (see concept mapping below).

Using graphic organizers - IDEA Paper 51 - from the IDEA Center - "This paper explores how to use a range of graphic organizers to better communicate course concepts and ideas to students. You may find an organizer that will help you communicate concepts and the relationship among concepts more effectively while helping your students make stronger learning connections." (Becky Clemente)

"What would the Brady Bunch do?" - an intriguing way to get students to see the connections between concepts, theories, and people.  It has been tried in a variety of disciplines.  - from Karen Eifler

Concept mapping

Good overview and step-by-step guide - from Michael Zeilik, University of New Mexico

video Concept mapping - (6:28) the why and how of concept (mind) mapping - from Karen Rohrbauck Stout, Western Washington University - includes a particularly good idea on using silent mapping to promote discussion

Why and how of concept maps - a good, detailed article on the theoretical underpinnings of concept maps as well as an extensive description of many ways concept maps can be used for instruction

More readings on concept mapping

Concept maps as assessment tools - good article

Concept maps as formative assessments - "At the beginning of an Introductory Meteorology unit on Moisture in the Atmosphere the instructor passes out copies of a concept map to her students. The major concepts are identified, but detail is missing. As the unit progresses the instructor asks students to add to the original concept map. For example the students could add:

* the types of reservoirs that occur on land
* different types of precipitation
* additional mechanisms such as transpiration

As the unit progresses the students continue to see the major concepts repeatedly, and the instructor can track student understandings of the relationships of parts to the whole (or misconceptions) as they arise by collecting and reviewing the concept maps."

Examples of use of concept mapping for instruction and assessment

NCC Faculty: Jon Mueller: Social Psychology - In the past, I (Jon Mueller) asked my students to graphically describe the relationship between eight or more concepts in relation to some theme. For example, in the first concept map assignment students drew a map describing the relationship between three social motives (social comparison, consistency and control) and related concepts (e.g., relative deprivation, insufficient justification, reactance, unrealistic optimism) we discussed as they connect to an event of their choosing. On my essay tests I ask short questions that require students to connect two or three concepts together. But the map allows me to see them connect significantly more concepts in a more complex manner. In Fall 2002 when I first assigned concept maps the students struggled with the first map because they (and I) did not quite know what they should be doing. In Spring 2003 I shared a couple maps from the Fall, and I received a much better collection of maps. The first map was completed in pairs; some of the remaining maps were completed individually and others in pairs.

Concept map rubric

Concept Map Assignment 1
Concept Map Assignment 2
Concept Map Assignment 3
Concept Map Assignment 4
Concept Map Assignment 5

Geoscience courses

Software for concept mapping

Teaching with analogies

Teaching-with-analogy model - description of how to teach with analogies, with a few examples - from The Sourcebook for Teaching Science

video Teaching through analogies - from the University of New Mexico College of Nursing, but applicable to any subject

 

Fostering Reading

Teaching critical reading - from the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching and Resource Center at Berkeley

Getting students to read

"Getting students to read: 14 tips" - IDEA Paper 40 - from The IDEA Center

"Using textbooks effectively; getting students to read them" - an essay from Denise Boyd

Considering ways to increase reading of text by students - Becky Clemente points to this good resource: "Some of you may find that the information in this blog post titled 'An Exemplar of Pedagogical Scholarship Takes on Student Reading' and the original research article causes you to consider other ways to create authentic approaches to having your students read assigned text. A brief excerpt may increase your curiosity...'Hoeft surveyed 124 students in two sections of a required first-year seminar course at the small Midwestern two-year liberal arts university where she teaches. She had four objectives in mind. She wanted to know how many students were doing the reading and if those who said they were could demonstrate a basic understanding of the material. She also wanted to compile a list of reasons why students said they did and did not do the readings, and she thought students might have ideas as to what might motivate more of them to complete the assigned readings.Forty-six percent of these students said they were doing the reading. That's a higher percentage than reported in several other studies cited in the article, but still not the percentage any of us would hope for and the next finding is even more distressing. To ascertain whether students had a basic understanding of the reading, Hoeft asked them to paraphrase the assignment in three sentences being as explicit as possible. Only 55% of those who reported doing the reading were able to provide a summary. Hoeft wondered if students said they were doing the reading when they weren't because they thought that's what the professor expected, or were their reading comprehension skills were really this dismal.' Hoeft, M. E. (2012). Why university students don't read: What professors can do to increase compliance. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6 (2)."

NCC Faculty: Jon Mueller - Grading scheme to encourage reading, thinking, and writing - I have adapted a grading scheme from Barbara Walvoord that I have found very effective at pre-class reading and encouraging critical thinking about the readings.  On one of my syllabi I write "Additionally, I will require you to complete 18 very brief assignments in or outside of class. For these assignments, I will simply be looking to see if you put a "good faith effort" into answering the questions. If you did I will put a (+) on your paper; if not, I will give it a (-). If you receive at least 16 plusses on the brief assignments you will receive the full 60 points. If you receive 14 plusses, you will earn 48 points. If you receive 12 plusses you will earn 36 points. If you receive 11 plusses you will earn 24 points. If you receive fewer than 11 plusses on the brief assignments you will earn 0 points. The brief assignments will be due by the beginning of that class period. Assignments must be typed."  Because I provide feedback in a brief discussion in class I write very few comments on any of the students' assignments.  Thus, it only takes me 5-10 minutes to grade a set of 30-35 assignments.  Furthermore, because students ar not graded on the accuracy of their responses, I find they are more willing to offer possible answers during class, and I can ask more challenging questions.  See examples of assignments here.

 

Service Learning

101 ideas for combining service and learning - from Western New Mexico University

 

Giving and Getting Feedback

Giving feedback TO students

Providing feedback - good research-based advice from Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory

"Using general comment sheets" - "A general comment sheet, as the term suggests, is a set of remarks about an assignment that is photocopied and distributed to a class as a whole. The comments on such a sheet may address the students' overall performance on the assignment, discuss common strengths and weaknesses, and provide positive examples drawn from the students' work." - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Getting and using feedback FROM students

A variety of strategies - for collecting and using feedback from students - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University

Taking stock of course evaluation responses - good advice - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Mid-term evaluations - Good suggestions and questions to ask in collecting mid-term information for you and your students' reflection and improvement - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Other mid-term questions - a couple good ones - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Early feedback from students - how to collect it and why - from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University

includes an extensive Gallery of Feedback Questions that address a number of issues you might want feedback on

video The "muddiest point" technique - (5:38) Find out what your students are most confused about at the end of a class, and use their responses in a variety of ways - from the Center for Instructional Innovation & Assessment at Western Washington University

Muddiest point in the lecture - a good description of how this technique evolved and how it is used to gather useful feedback - from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University

Focused listing activity - To see if students were able to identify the main ideas from that day's class - from the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development at San Francisco State University

Student self-assessment for improvement - Students can take the accompanying assessment of their approaches to and attitudes about learning, and then reflect on the results to gain insight into their strengths and weaknesses. From the On Course Workshop.

EXAMPLE: Using student blogs to provide feedback on writing

 

Groups and Collaborative/Cooperative Learning

INTRODUCTION: Cooperative learning - good overview from the Cooperative Learning Institute and Interactive Book Company

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cooperative learning - from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan

 

Collaborative Learning - lots of good information and techniques for collaborative learning - from the National Institute for Science Education

Designing effective group activities - article by Michaelsen, Fink, and Knight

Team-based learning - (12:03) a specific form of group work with four elements described in this video

Designing group projects more like the real world - This blog entry describes a faculty member's response to ineffective group work.

"Enhancing learning -- and more -- through cooperative learning" - good overview of cooperative learning and good advice - IDEA Paper 38 - from the IDEA Center

"Cooperative learning: Students working in small group" - another good overview and specific suggestions

"Effective strategies for cooperative learning" - good article by Richard Felder and Rebecca Brent

Sample of small group activities for learning - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University

The Jigsaw Classroom - lots of resources here - "Here is how it works: The students in a history class, for example, are divided into small groups of five or six students each. Suppose their task is to learn about World War II. In one jigsaw group, Sara is responsible for researching Hitler's rise to power in pre-war Germany. Another member of the group, Steven, is assigned to cover concentration camps; Pedro is assigned Britain's role in the war; Melody is to research the contribution of the Soviet Union; Tyrone will handle Japan's entry into the war; Clara will read about the development of the atom bomb. Eventually each student will come back to her or his jigsaw group and will try to present a well-organized report to the group. The situation is specifically structured so that the only access any member has to the other five assignments is by listening closely to the report of the person reciting."

Working in groups - advice for faculty and students - from the Derek Bok Center at Harvard University

"Commonly asked questions about teaching collaborative activities" - from The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State University

"Changing a course from lecture format to cooperative learning" - from the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the University of Washington

video Creating classroom connections - (5:11) a description of techniques used by Joseph Trimble to increase the feelings of connectedness among his students

video Using technology to promote student collaboration inside and outside the classroom - (58:45) a good talk by a Stanford English faculty member describing how she uses new, social technologies to foster collaboration

How to effectively incorporate teamwork into your courses - from Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State University

Cooperative Controversies - As noted in this essay, students are often reluctant to contradict their peers.  Here is a structured process for encouraging students to discuss more than one side of an issue. - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Assessing group work - a variety of options of how to do so

Group work assessment form - This essay includes a simple form for students to complete to assess their group members' contributions - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

Review of research on cooperative learning - article (2009) published in Educational Researcher

 

 

Have a link to good resources on teaching?  Please e-mail the Center.