Housekeeping efforts that return time dividends

The first day of fall semester is next week! This is the second in a series of four Teaching Tips that provide ideas on readying your course for opening day and highlights efforts which will save your class time and perhaps provide more opportunity for deeper learning.

Previous teaching can power current course modifications

The first day of fall semester is right around the corner. This is the first in a series of four Teaching Tips that provide ideas on readying your course for opening day and covers items that require a longer time for planning and communicating to your incoming roster of students.

Ideas for customizing the lab experience

We tend to think that lab courses must march students through a well-rehearsed set of steps that include presentation of theoretical background and foundational concepts, safety considerations for the lab at hand, methods and procedures to be followed, measurement and...

Science Labs for Online Classes

Take a look at a session conducted on best practices in online lab courses and how to facilitate them. Instructional Designer Dan LaSota has included a slide deck that outlines the session.

Improve your online course with Quality Matters

Two online workshops are available in April and June to instructors with existing courses online. The training introduces a subset of the Quality Matters rubric standards which have the greatest impact on course design. Faculty decide and prioritize which sections of their course to improve.

2. Prompting Inquiry: Assessment Strategies

EPIC: Home Activities Discussion Builds Case Studies Resources How do we know whether students are picking up what we’re putting down? Assessments help evaluate student understanding. And what else can they do? What other purposes can they serve? Can some,...

Bring robust labs to online classes

As we discover, test and improve methods of online teaching, one category of courses, the science laboratory based class, has resisted many efforts to bring lab units to the online realm. But this need not be the case. There are several models, methods and ready made solutions available to instructors or departments who are contemplating this transition. In this Teaching Tip, we cover the range of options available.
Illustration: University of Munich Remotely Controlled Lab on Millikan’s Experiment web interface.

Instruction beyond the bounds of the semester

Without practice and application, students can rapidly forget course material between academic semesters. Instructors can counter this effect by pointing students to and creating their own, opportunities to engage with subject matter during the breaks.

Game Mechanics — Leeroy Needs Devout Shoulders

Download This Decrease Flangeram to 2. Engage Amplitude Device. Quell Robot Uprising.   What’s a Game Mechanic? turns racing rondels gambling surprises! drafting auctions trading chicken voting traitor Is that it? Are there other mechanics?   Create Your Own...

Stealth Assessment

Discussion References Shute, V., Ventura, M., & FengFeng Ke. (2014). The power of play: The effects of portal 2 and lumosity on cognitive and noncognitive skills. Computers & Education, 80. Wang, L., Shute, V., & Moore, G. R. (2015). Lessons learned and...

What, you think this is funny?

The best kind of joke is the one that forces students to rethink content in a new light and see it from a different perspective. But achieving this can be difficult. Wanzer illustrates the pitfalls in using humor to achieve this end.

Humor as Effective Practice in the Classroom

Discussion References Anderson, D. G. (2011). Taking the “distance” out of distance education: A humorous approach to online learning. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(1). Wanzer, M. B., Frymier, A. B., Irwin, F., & Irwin, J. (2010). An...

Motivating students to connect with course content

Getting the busy student to prepare for class prior to trying to do course work is difficult at best. This tip delves into this problem and provides a few recommendations for faculty to try. Should you feel your students need this type of encouragement, look to a model that places content right at hand to how most students tend to approach learning and participating in a course.

Shape student achievement with early contact

It is well known that rapid responsive communication with students can help eliminate the feeling of isolation in online classes. The question for instructors isn’t so much how often you should communicate with students, but how early and in what form? Using one of the tools provided to all University of Alaska faculty, this teaching tip offers the idea of very early, pre-semester email communication with students. The end goal is to positively shape expectations and achievement.

Lying, deceit and effective teaching

The subject of the lie has been pondered, defined and debated over centuries, across cultures and in various situations. Lies come in many forms, some harmless, others pernicious. Is there any place for lies in the classroom? You may wish to consider these examples before reflecting on that.

Make your next field trip virtually good

Research shows that the educational outcomes associated with field trips are not dependent on a face to face visit. Outcomes are instead based on student engagement driven by activities before, during and after visits to a site. This Teaching Tip provides an overview of good practices and a starting point for those considering using field trips in their class.

Teach them to do it badly

At the closing of SXSWEdu a few years ago, I watched one of the most memorable keynote addresses to educators that I have ever seen. Jeffrey Tambor quoted one of his favorite writers, Henry Miller, as saying “I did not learn to write, until my teacher told me to ‘do it badly.’”

Translating down to peers creates deep learning

Creating a simplified version of a concept is a rich learning activity for the student who plays the role of teacher, but also for the student who is being tutored. This teaching tip provides examples and guidance on using the technique in your class. Communicating a simplified translation of a concept for a peer is a learning activity that compounds deep understanding, communication skills and reflection.

Connecting with your field

You are an ambassador for your discipline. Imagine that you can put aside every external constraint when teaching your class: school and departmental requirements, considerations of technology, classroom seating, student prior knowledge and your own busy schedule. Forget. All. About. That.

Group work

If you mention group projects to students you will most likely receive negative feedback on the prospect of having to work with peers on a project that affects individual grades. Group work is beneficial because it mirrors workplace and career environments.

Role Play in Simulated Events as Mechanisms of Engagement

CITE fellow Sean McGee has been refining his ideas of running a simulated crisis event with his students as participants. The plan is to have the event run for period of time midway through the Fall 2015 academic semester. Sean is considering the logistics of running and organizing such an event, and how it would […]

Getting from A to B

A person’s first exposure to an academic course can be daunting. As an instructor, this will be you the first time you teach it. It will be your students on their first day of class. A glance at the course calendar will not help. In typical fashion, the weeks of the semester roll on with huge amounts of reading and epic level assignments.

Effective learning

On my first day of high school I was given a slip of paper with the combination to my book and coat locker. I carried that slip of paper with me for a week, glancing at it several times a day until the set of three numbers was firmly in my memory.

Balanced authority in the classroom

When the power goes, what happens at traffic intersections? Without the central authority of the automated traffic lighting system, the drivers are forced to slow down and become more aware of their surroundings and fellow travelers in order to pass safely through the crossroads. Traffic continues because people, largely, organize themselves.


We owe it to the students, the institution and the larger community to champion our material and point out the relevance that we know exists. Why else would we teach what we teach and do what we do? What instructors and students both want are courses that frame content in engaging ways.

Instructor presence

How might you effectively respond to discussion, topical events or student performance? In any mode of instruction, teacher presence and guidance are essential for students to learn new concepts. Bland generic feedback is far less motivational than customized personal communication directed at student performance or specific class discussions.

Avoiding distractions with AdBlock

You may find yourself using online resources in a presentation. Resources such as YouTube, online journals, or media sites are often great places to show examples to supplement your presentation topic. This week’s Teaching Tips offers ways for you to remove distractions from your online presentations when using these types of resources.