Best Teaching Practices

Building Rapport in the Classroom

“Good rapport between instructor and students is arguably the most important factor in good classroom dynamics.” To help with this, “Building Rapport” (web page) lays out the following:

  • 7 tips for encouraging camaraderie
  • 9 verbal cues “that help build rapport and encourage students to remain actively involved in classroom activities”
  • 7 nonverbal cues “that create positive rapport in a class"

First Days: Starting the Term Well

The words "Back to Class"


"101 Things You Can Do in the First Three Weeks of Class" (online article)

“Beginnings are important…. Students will decide very early--some say the first day of class--whether they will like the course, its contents, the teacher, and their fellow students…. The following list is … a catalog of suggestions for college teachers who are looking for fresh ways of creating the best possible environment for learning” and covers the following topics

Online Discussions: To Grade or Not to Grade? (One View)

“Should students be graded for their participation in online discussion forums?

  • "As always, this will depend to some extent on the students, the desired learning outcomes, and the instructor’s teaching philosophy.

“If you believe that students only do what gives them immediate gratification, this is one reason for grading participation.

  • "If students are ‘surface’ rather than deep processors, or highly instrumental in that they only do the minimum work necessary to get a pass grade, then some form of grading of their online activities may be necessary.
  • "If the main goals of the course are to teach students online participation skills, collaborative learning skills, or academic discourse, then again there may be a justification for grading participation.

“However, in general, it’s best not to grade students directly on their online contributions.

10 Ways to Help Online Learners Succeed

10 Ways to Help Online Learners Succeed (online pdf) lists "ten specific things which we can do as instructors ... to improve the learning outcomes from students studying online": 

1. Give worked examples and explain their working.

  • Students need to know how to approach a particular task and what the logic of that approach looks like.
  • Give examples and explanations.

2. Recognize that the class will have different skill levels.

  • Suggest activities that fit the skill level – e.g. for those new to this work, for those with some experience, for those very familiar with this work.

3. Set problems which do not have simple and yes/no solutions.

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