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.

Blackboard SafeAssign

SafeAssign is a Blackboard module that not only allows instructors to check student papers against published content, but can be configured in the course shell to allow students to check their own work. This can be a valuable part of a learning activity for beginning writers.