Three Ways to Improve Undergraduate Teaching

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes


  1. Take the Time
  2. Teach Out Loud
  3. Turn the Tables

A few months ago I presented at the Innovations in Undergraduate Learning  summit – SFU Public Square – Simon Fraser University.

I was asked these two questions:

  1. What is the most compelling innovation in undergraduate learning that you have seen?
  2. What are three changes Canadian post-secondary institutions can make today to support undergraduate student-centered learning?

The three points above are what I ended up with. This is the explanation.

  1. Take the Time
    1. ID – do a decent job of instructional design.
    2. Don’t always take what you’ve done and rehash it.
      I’ve come across far too many courses that really haven’t changed much in over a decade. We’ve learned some things in that time, and while I’m not proposing change for change sake, do things the same way year after year makes you look lazy, not skilled.
  2. Teach Out Loud
    Always be prepared to answer these two questions:

    1. Why are we doing this?
    2. What is it good for?
      I’ve said this before. I’m not saying that everything we teach needs to be immediately applicable in a practical setting, but you need at least to be able to connect the dots for your students. You need to be able to explain how this helps the students, and how what they are learning fits in to the big picture. If you can’t, then maybe they don’t really need to learn it. If you won’t do this, then shame on you.
  3. Turn the Tables
    1. Faculty need to be students from time to time
      For PD, and to encourage reflection on teaching
      Remember what it is like – assignments, exams, ….
      I think everyone who teaches should have to TAKE a course, say, every 3 years. For faculty in higher ed, that means taking an undergraduate course – FOR MARKS – and the grade earned becomes part of your public record. Also, it must be a course outside of your immediate area of expertise. If you can’t do that, then may you shouldn’t be teaching.


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Three Ways to Improve Undergraduate Teaching — 2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Worth Sharing: Making Sure Yours is not a ‘Pointless Exercise’ | The Becker Blog

  2. Excellent, and Students do need to know why it is important to learn this, a well as to how it may apply to everyday life. I also agree if the Teacher is not a professional learner then he/she should get another job! All good Teachers and Instructors are usually life long learners. Dr. Joyce Dickens 12-28-2014

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