Effective College Teaching

(1.5 days or 1-day with reduced material)

College teaching may be the only skilled profession that does not routinely provide its practitioners with prior instruction or on-the-job training. The assumption seems to be that getting a Ph.D. in a discipline somehow equips people with the knowledge and skills to design courses, motivate students to learn and equip them with well-developed analytical and professional (“soft”) skills, lecture effectively, actively engage students in class regardless of the class size, write good assignments and tests, and deal with the hundreds of problems that routinely arise when dealing with a class full of individuals with different abilities, needs, motivations, and problems. The assumption is false–it typically takes new instructors 4-5 years to learn to teach effectively by trial-and-error, and some never learn. Unfortunately, the ones who pay the penalty for the errors are usually not the ones making them.

As it happens, a great deal is known from both research and experience about what makes teaching effective. Most of it does not require innate teaching ability or a particular type of personality, but simply involves a combination of easily implemented strategies and common sense. This workshop draws on this material to provide faculty members and graduate students with tools to make them more effective teachers and good sources of information for further study.

The full workshop lasts for 1 full day and the following morning, and is extended to two days in countries where English is not the native language. A one-day version that eliminates roughly one-third of the workshop material can be given on request.

Topics Addressed

  • How do students learn? How do teachers teach? What often goes wrong in the process?
  • How do I plan a course? What do I do on the first day?
  • How can I be a better lecturer? How can I get students actively engaged in class, even if there are 200 of them in the room?
  • How do inductive teaching methods (inquiry, problem-based learning, project-based learning, case-based instruction,…) work? Why should I use them?
  • How can I create tests that are both rigorous and fair?
  • What student-related problems am I likely to face (classroom management, emotional crises, cheating, etc.)? How should I deal with them?
  • What other problems am I likely to run into (getting promotion and tenure, managing time, student cheating, etc.)? How should I deal with them?

Contact Richard Felder for information about scheduling and fees.