North Central College - Naperville, IL

Teaching Tips & Strategies

Below, find tips and strategies for designing your course or syllabus, addressing student concerns and diversity, and incorporating technology into your teaching.

 

 

General

Addressing instructional goals - Here is a good set of short articles providing ideas for addressing elements of good teaching often found on course evaluation forms such as "Explained the reasons for criticisms of students' academic performance," or "Explained course material clearly and concisely." - from The IDEA Center

Addressing learning goals for students - Here is a good set of short articles, similar to the above entry, providing ideas for promoting student learning, with titles such as “Learning fundamental principles, generalizations, or theories,” “Acquiring skills in working with others as a member of a team,” and “Learning to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view.” - from the IDEA Center

Solve a teaching problem - a unique site that identifies a number of common teaching problems (e.g., students do poorly on an exam, students don't come to lecture), helps you diagnose the likely cause(s), and suggests strategies for addressing the problem

 

Syllabus and Course Structure

Content tyranny - "Does the content tyrant rule your classroom? If you say, "I can't do that; I have to cover the content," every time a colleague offers a suggestion about how to improve your teaching, there's a good chance it does." This brief essay suggests some signs to look for and strategies to address content tyranny.

Samples of academic dishonesty/plagiarism statements on syllabi - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Berkeley

Course Design

INTRODUCTION: Overview of an effective approach to course design -- This is a good place to start in thinking about designing a new course or redesigning an old one. It is based on the Understanding by Design model.

Fink Taxonomy for course design - this is a popular model for designing or rethinking a course, and this article provides a good step-by-step overview.

Understanding by Design - a widely used framework for course design developed by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins

Principles of effective course design - from an article by David Whetten in the Journal of Management Education

Design and teach a course - a lot of good suggestions for most aspects of course design - from the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University

Course design tutorial - developed by Barbara Tewksbury and R. Heather Macdonald

Planning a course - good advice from an expert teacher

Course design - from the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the University of Washington

video Teaching for Learning - (1:02:06) a good, hour-long talk by a Stanford English faculty member describing how she shifted the focus of her course from "what she should teach" to "what students should learn." She uses her experiences with a Literary History course to illustrate the process she went through and the challenges she encountered and overcame.

"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

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

Syllabus development

"Components of a comprehensive course syllabus" - A good list of common syllabus components

Syllabus development - a good, detailed tutorial

What is an effective syllabus? - Takes you through each component

Learning-centered syllabi - good, detailed advice from the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Iowa State University

First/last day of class

Top 10 tips for first day - from The Center for Teaching and Faculty Development at San Francisco State University

 

More strategies for the first days/weeks of class

More advice on the first day of class - from the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University

Eight objectives for the first day of class - from the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University

First day of class - more advice from Dakin Burdick

Today we will - more suggestions from Jennifer Garrett

Learning student names - 27(!) techniques from Joan Middendorf

Internationalizing your course - a good, detailed tutorial

Last day of class - a nice set of ideas from Dakin Burdick

Learning objectives

INTRODUCTION: Writing learning objectives - very good, detailed description of how to create learning objectives for your courses - from The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State University

Determining learning objectives - from the Handbook of instruction from Florida State University

Rubric for assessing course objectives

Clarifying goals and expectations - Do your goals for a class match your students'?  How can you bring them more in line?  This article describes a nice approach to getting students to examine their class goals and linking them better to your purposes. - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

"Fostering the reciprocity of learning" - This essay presents an interesting grid activity in which the instructor and students think about the teacher's and the students' goals for student learning as well as teacher and student goals for the instuctor's learning.

 

Building Rapport

"Establishing rapport: Personal interaction and learning" - IDEA Paper 39 - from The IDEA Center

Student information sheet - description of how an instructor uses information gathered from students on the first day to build rapport throughout the course -- two examples are given of the questions asked of students

 

Copy Rights

"Know your copy rights" - Excellent guide on what you can and cannot do with materials you want to use for your classes

 

Motivating Students

INTRODUCTION: Promoting positive student motivation - Good overview of theory and research on student motivation with some suggestions - IDEA Paper 41 - from The IDEA Center

"Capturing and directing the motivation to learn"

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

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

 

Teaching Diverse Students

Diversity Web - "An interactive resource hub for higher education" - from the Association of American Colleges and Universities

Diversity and inclusive excellence - publications from the Association of American Colleges and Universities

Variety of resources and suggestions - from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State University

Creating inclusive college classrooms - from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan

Inclusive teaching - strategies and resources from the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the Univ. of Washington

Teaching students with disabilities - a variety of suggestions for a number of specific disabilities (e.g., ADHD, visual disabilities)

Multicultural teaching - information and strategies from the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at the Univ of Michigan

Universal Design for Learning - "is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs."

 

Problem Students and Disruptive Behavior

Managing conflict - a good, detailed tutorial

Suggestions for handling problem students and disruptive behaviors

"Managing hot moments in the classroom" - some good advice for dealing with conflicts and emotional moments

Incivility in the college classroom - a variety of strategies and resources

Establishing class rules - This activity asks students to identify the qualities of a "good" instructor, then identify the qualities of a "good" student, and then mutually agree to exhibit those qualities.

"Top ten tips for addressing sensitive topics and maintaining civility in the classroom" - from the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development at San Francisco State University

Difficult students: Four case studies

"Lost in the crowd: Helping individual students" - from the Teaching Resource Center at the University of Virginia

 

Promoting Academic Integrity

Strategies and tools for preventing/addressing academic dishonesty - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Berkeley

Academic Integrity - links for instructors and students - particularly recommended is list of suggestions for encouraging academic integrity

A variety of good resources on academic integrity in the classroom - from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan

"Promoting academic integrity in the classroom" - good essay describing the issues as well as best practices

Plagiarism

Plagiarism tutorials

Univeristy of Texas
University of Southern California
Indiana University
Rutgers University
University of Southern Mississippi
University of Connecticut
Bates College
Paraphrasing assignment - This is a very well designed exercise for students in which they are provided with original passages and two sample paraphrasings of each passage. Students are asked to rate the acceptability of each paraphrase and explain their ratings.

Self-tests for students (Do you know what it is?)

Plagiarism quiz - from Argosy University

Self-test - from Hong Kong University

Other resources

"Educating students about plagiarism" - a set of materials provided by the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology to teach students about plagiarism

Plagiarism detection services - a side-by-side comparison chart of several of the most popular sites where faculty can send papers to check to see if they have been plagiarized, from a presentation by Liz Johnson

Avoiding plagiarism - another good resource for students, including guidelines and examples

Plagiarism resource for students - description of plagiarism and how students can avoid it, with examples - from Paul C. Smith

Plagiarism - another excellent resource - clearly explains plagiarism, provides guidelines to avoid it, and provides good side-by-side examples of passages and references correctly versus incorrectly cited

Extensive list of links to other plagiarism resources - from Sharon Stoerger

 

Promoting Study and Learning Skills

Summarizing and notetaking - brief but good research-based advice

EXAMPLE: Using cell phones to summarize complex text

In-class note-taking skills - good list of advice for students

More note-taking skills

 

Metacognition (awareness of and thinking about one's thinking)

"Helping students link effort and performance" - Here's a good article in the APS Observer about how teachers can assist students who believe they put a lot of effort into a task but do not end up with good performance. Here is an article the first one reminded me of that I use often and has a great title: "Why people fail to recognize their own incompetence." It summarizes research finding that our weaker students not only are weak, but also can't identify when their performance is weak. Unfortunately, those same students are often the ones who don't know how to fix their performance even if it is pointed out to them that it is weak. The first article gives some good suggestions about helping such students.

 

Using Technology in Instruction

video Using video for instructional purposes - (29:30) - This video presentation describes several ways video clips found or created by instructors or generated by students can be used in face-to-face or online courses.

Creating a YouTube playlist - Watch a video explaining how to string a series of videos together - from James A. Therrell

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."

Ten instructional technology tools - This article provides a brief overview of some newer technologies instructors are using such as blogs, wikis, and classroom response systems (clickers). Here are links to more information on some of these tools.

Accessible Technology 
(Using technology in such a way that all students, including those with disabilities, can take advantage of it)

video Improving accessibility of documents and media - excellent video tutorials and other resources on how to make Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF documents more accessible - from The California State Universities

Making instructional materials accessible - from CSU-Long Beach

Creating accessible web pages - from The California State Universities

Accessibility and Usability Guide - extensive resources from Penn State University


PowerPoint

Active learning with PowerPoint - a good, detailed tutorial

Drawing on PowerPoint slides - from Sue Frantz

Pros and cons of PowerPoint - Four essays on the uses and misuses of PowerPoint

Is it really necessary?
Examining PowerPointlessness
A case for PowerPoint as a faculty authoring system
PowerPoint: Not your grandmother's presentations, but is it evil?

 

Lecture Capture

What is it? Lecture capture is the process of videotaping or audiotaping a lecture from class or creating a mini-lecture to be shared online with students before or after a class. Such online lectures can serve as review for students, or serve as additional lecture material, or serve as the primary lecture material so class time can be used for more interactive experiences.

Lecture capture: A guide for effective use -- A good description of lecture capture, uses of it, issues to consider, and suggestions for implementation

 

Instructional Blogging

Best practices and case studies on using blogs in your courses

Several uses of blogging in courses - for example, students post drafts of work on blog to receive student feedback before turning in the final copy - from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of California, Davis

Setting up a blog for your course - This good description uses WordPress as the blog platform - from Dakin Burdick


Classroom Responses Systems
(e.g., Clickers, cell phones)

Polleverywhere.com - Students can simply use their cell phones to respond to quiz questions.  It is very easy to set up quiz questions that can then be brought up on screen by visiting your account at polleverywhere.com.  Students respond to the questions by texting a code number, and the student responses immediately appear on the screen.  No clickers needed.  Consult NCC faculty member Jon Mueller about this tool.

Overview of clickers - what they are and how they are used, and some additional reading

video Use of clickers - (5:51) good description of how clickers can be used in the classroom

video Use of clickers to get students to teach each other(10:49) Richard Mazur illustrates how he uses clickers in class

Teaching with clickers

 


Online discussions

Crafting questions for online discussions

 

Humor

Humorous stories and jokes

 

 

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