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Teaching Effectiveness

The Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) works with faculty to integrate effective and innovative pedagogies and technologies into their curricula. The resources on this page combine research-based practices, innovative techniques, and hands-on applications to encourage teaching enhancement and professional development. We hope you find these resources helpful to enhance your students’ educational experiences.  

Blended Course Design and Teaching

Blended course design is a way of leveraging both in class and outside class activities to promote learning and use your time effectively in both formats. Blended courses, also commonly referred to as a hybrid course, is a course format that uses both face-to-face and online teaching. Blended courses specifically remove face-to-face time from the total time spent on class commitments to online time. Learning activities and assessments can occur both online and face-to-face.

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Classroom Observation

A classroom observation is a formal or informal observation of teaching while it is taking place in a classroom or other learning environment. Typically conducted by fellow instructors or instructional consultants, classroom observations are often used to provide instructors with constructive critical feedback aimed at enhancing their classroom management and instructional techniques. Classroom observations, an integral part of enhancing teaching and learning in the classroom, usually consists of a pre-observation consultation, in-class observation, a post-observation discussion, and finally a reflective practice.

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Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which students team together to explore a specific question or create a meaningful project.

In order to create an environment in which collaborative learning can take place, three things are necessary. First, students need to feel safe, but also challenged. Second, groups need to be small enough that everyone can contribute. Third, the task students work together on must be clearly defined.

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Effective Lecturing

The lecture format is still the most widely used method for instruction of students at universities. Typically, a lecture is thought of as a presentation that transmits or conveys information. When we consider how people learn, lectures should not consist of tedious, lengthy orations.

Effective lectures should be carefully planned and designed by instructors to bring the classroom back to life. Lectures can be divided into short presentations focused on continuous engagement of students with the material presented through a variety of interactive ways.

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How Learning Works

Principle P1: Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.

Most information taken through the sense either never enters our consciousness or is quickly filtered out and lost, with only a relatively small percentage being retained in long-term memory. The odds that students will retain new information increase if the information is explicitly linked to their previous knowledge. Also, students often come to our courses with misconceptions about what we are teaching. If we fail to convince them otherwise, they may learn to parrot our statements of the concepts on exams but their faith in the misconceptions will remain unshaken.

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International Faculty Teaching in the American Classroom

When early-career international faculty members teach in the American classroom, they naturally would compare their own educational and teaching traditions in countries where they came from. What were some of the initial surprises you faced when you first taught in the American classroom? What were the most notable cultural differences and challenges? What challenges your expectations the most? What strategies you have taken accordingly? What are the best parts of your teaching so far?  What unique perspectives you bring to the classroom as an international instructor? And how could the University support you better in your cultural transition as an international instructor?
In the path of reflecting on these questions, international faculty can recognize better the difference in views on the role of an instructor and students in the American classroom. The difference has a far-reaching impact on how teaching should be taught, and how learning should be acquired. By devoting a conscious effort to understand the divergences between one’s home and American educational system, international faculty may become more comprehensible to the dissimilarities.  In the light of careful comparison of the dissimilarities, international faculty can come up with effective strategies when they interact with their students.

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Mid-Term Student Evaluation

Mid-term student feedback collects information early enough to address learning issues and adjust instruction accordingly while the course is in progress.

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