Teaching Students with Widely Varying Backgrounds and Skills

A common situation at most universities is having to teach a class in which students have significantly different backgrounds and skill levels. Teachers of those classes have a tough decision to make—should they aim the instruction at the strongest, average, or weakest students?

If you find yourself in that position, the good news is that you don’t have to choose. With suitable planning and certain teaching techniques, you can meet the learning needs of a broad range of students, providing suitable challenges to the stronger ones and appropriate levels of support to the weaker ones. Of course you can’t guarantee that all the students in the class will succeed, because their performance depends heavily on factors you don’t control, like their interest in the course subject, study habits, and work ethics. The chances are good, though, that if you adopt the recommended approach, most students for whom those three factors are in place will do well.

For Whom Intended

The workshop may be tailored specifically for current and/or future faculty members (graduate students and postdocs) in STEM disciplines, or it may be designed to address campus-wide audiences from all disciplines.

Topics Addressed

How to

  • find weaknesses in your students’ preparation for your course and help them remedy the weaknesses without spending a lot of time reteaching prerequisite material
  • get your students actively engaged in their own learning, in and out of class, while avoiding common instructor mistakes that limit the effectiveness of active learning
  • describe common ineffective instructor testing and grading practices and ineffective student approaches to studying for tests, and outline better alternatives
  • identify sources of additional suggestions for effective teaching and for the research that supports the suggestions

Contact Richard Felder for information about scheduling and fees.