2021 December

Tips for Teaching in Modules 1 & 2

Best Practices for Condensed Courses

Modified from a presentation by Traci Freeman, Executive Director of the Colket Center for Academic Excellence at Colorado College and Jen Rouse, Director of the Cornell College Center for Teaching and Learning.

  1. Depth over Breadth
    • Assign fewer readings but ask students to do more with them
    • Ask students to describe their problem-solving processes or categorize problems
    • Problem-based learning/ project-based learning/ case-based learning
  2. Space and Enhance Practice
    • Spiral course material
    • Assign frequent quizzes
    • Make quizzes and tests cumulative
  3. Provide Feedback on Student Learning
    • Peer review on papers and assignments
    • Think-pair-share
    • Clicker questions
    • Individual tests followed by group tests
    • Oral exams/ oral presentations
  4. Relationships and Classroom Climate
    • Invest in relationship-building activities on day one
    • Review syllabus and reading lists
    • Acknowledge tensions, ideally in the moment or the next day
    • Model and invite self-reflection in heated situations
  5. Transparent Teaching
    • Support high student engagement with course design, goals, activities, criteria for assessment
    • Assist students in seeing themselves as learners
    • Design courses around the how and why—essential questions, exploring problems
    • Invite all to take risks, to invent approaches to the challenge or problem, to be outlier thinkers
  6. Enduring Understanding
    • Address transfer of course concepts and skills to other situations
    • Introduce enduring understanding: What will we take with us from this course to make a similar journey? To build on this journey and go further? To create an entirely new journey?
    • Spend time with final assignments early in the course to prepare students for the scaffolding and staging you’ll provide along the way
    • Invite students to discuss what they will take with them

Tips for Delivery of Condensed Courses

Modified from a presentation by Marcia B. France, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Duke Kunshan University.

  1. Build Active/Engaged Learning Communities
    • Use ice breakers —> students more likely to ask for help
    • Require pre-class activities —> increase participation
    • Group work -> build connections
  2. Structure is Essential
    • Use LMS for organization
    • Create modules organized by week or day
    • Hyper-focus on clarity of assignments and explicit instructions
    • Guidelines for group work
    • Set rules for checking/responding to email (for both students and instructor)
  3. Pace Course Evenly
    • Use every course day
    • Stick to schedule
    • Don’t overload the last week
    • Recommendation: no more than ~3 hours of assigned daily work per class day.
  4. Content: Less is More
    • Prioritize retention of content over coverage
    • Let some topics go
    • Deepen key principles, ideas, and skills
    • Remember that students with good skills can access specific content elsewhere, when they need it
    • Use Backward Course Design to create robust learning objectives
    • Link all student work to assignments and objectives
  5. Use Synchronous Meetings Wisely
    • Lecture less than usual
    • Focus more on interactions
    • Vary activities
  6. Vary Synchronous Activities
    • Team-based problem-solving sessions
    • Group presentations (use peer feedback forms)
    • Interactive sessions with guest speakers
  7. Use Asynchronous Activities for Content Delivery and Practice
    • Don’t put full burden of content delivery on yourself. Use pre-recorded videos, Coursera, readings, podcasts, adaptive ebooks, TED talks, etc.
    • Include some meta-teaching on becoming independent learners
    • Provide a framework for synchronous sessions (pre-class assignments, discussion guidelines, study prompts, questions to accompany asynchronous content)
    • Hands-on projects/experiments
    • Use forums and discussion boards to extend in-class activities
    • Provide solutions to homework questions, so students don’t get frustrated when they get stuck
    • Increase writing to reflect on materials, organize thoughts
    • Consider assigning practice partners