Strategies, Tools and Choices

  • Thriving in Academe
    National Education Association and Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education
    This publication addresses issues about teaching in higher education.

Creating Assignments and Exams
Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University
This site includes tips, resources and examples to support development of assignments.

Service Learning = Solutions
Learn and Serve America’s National Service Learning Clearinghouse
Links to lesson plans, project ideas, and examples of service learning.

Center for Community Engagement
California State University System
This site explains initiatives, policies, resources, and campus contact information for each of the community engagement offices for CSU.

Assessing How Students Learn
Cerbin, B. (March, 2009). Carnegie Perspectives, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
About using assessment to reveal how students learn.

Teaching Challenges
MERLOT Pedagogy Portal
Challenges identified by faculty with links to materials to address them.


Choose an appropriate mode of instruction
Many teaching strategies are available to university faculty.  Some strategies may be preferred in a field of study or at a particular institution, or may be dependent upon availability of resources and technology.  Some strategies are most effective for a particular class size. Others may align to a greater or lesser extent with individual teaching and learning philosophies and commitments. Take the time to find out expectations and parameters of a particular learning community before choosing among strategies. New faculty members should be mindful of the connection between a teaching strategy and student learning when deciding on instructional strategies.  In this section we examine an array of instructional methods and offer ways to learn about others. 

Locate lesson materials
New faculty members report that time is one of the biggest limiting factors as they begin an academic career.  It is common to have several new courses to teach, making it critical to locate high caliber teaching materials efficiently. It is not necessary to develop all teaching materials from scratch.  There are a number of excellent resources available to help. A number of high caliber teaching materials are examined in this section, along with strategies for finding others.

Craft assignments
Think about several dimensions of an assignment as you go about creating one.  Ask how the assignment will support student learning. Seek alignment between student learning outcomes, course instruction, assignments, and assessments. Think about the length, breadth and depth of an assignment, and to what degree the activities match what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course.  Consider the time needed to complete the assignment, and whether it can be assessed in ways that reveal what students have learned. Several types of assignments are considered, along with ways to craft others in this section. 

Enhance teaching with technology
Students expect to learn using technology.  Technology offers increased access to materials, enhanced representation of concepts, alternative means of interacting, and opportunities for practice among other things.  Know what technology is available, and which offer the most promise to your students.  An overview of available technologies is provided, along with suggestions for where to learn about others.  Examples of ways other faculty have used technologies to enhance their teaching are explored in this section.

Reach out to the community
Service learning and community outreach offer a means of engaging students with course content.  These experiences can be integral to the course, or offer a way of applying theory to practice, or both.  If new faculty members think about service as a way for students to learn, they are more likely to plan instruction that will offer students long lasting connections to the community.  This section offers a variety of ways to incorporate a community service learning experience into teaching, along with examples from faculty who use this form of instruction.

Overcome teaching challenges
In spite of the best efforts of faculty, there are challenges that arise.  Accomplished faculty find ways over, around or through these challenges.  They may include limitations of the setting or resources, inappropriate student behaviors, disconnect between teaching goals and learning outcomes, or conflicts with or among students, among others.  We will explore some strategies for overcoming these issues, along with ways to avoid some challenges from the outset.

Possible questions to ask about Instruction:

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