Information provided below is designed to assist all faculty in implementing best practices to promote learning success for Stockton students. To discuss issues specific to your needs, email the Center for Teaching and Learning Design at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609.626.3828 or review website resources at stockton.edu/ctld.
Plan for disruption. It is possible that weather, illness, or other events may create a situation where a large number of students or faculty may need to be absent from class. Plan and prepare for the possibility of interruptions to your course and consider alternate methods for ensuring student learning. Consider if interruptions are likely to be short-term or long-term.
Read the student course attendance procedure & information on students applying for a leave of absence. Review the sample syllabus provided by the CTLD and revise the attendance policy to fit your needs.
Review the Planning for Alternate Course Delivery document.
Include a relevant statement in your syllabus about COVID, inclement weather, emergency preparedness, or campus closure. Use or modify statements already constructed and included in the CTLD sample syllabus.
Be sure your syllabus is explicit in explaining the attendance policy for your course. Consider how to be flexible while maintaining rigor.
If video conferencing (such as Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra) is part of your plan for alternate course delivery, provide students with resources to use the tool and practice during the course if possible.
Consider the use of recorded lectures or narrated PowerPoints to provide content. Best practices indicate recorded segments of 10 minutes or less are more likely to be viewed. Consider editing larger files into shorter segments. For example, convert a 60-minute lecture into four 15-minute segments or six 10-minute segments.
Investigate educational resources available through our library, Open Educational Resources (OERs), Ted Talks, Nearpod and other professional or discipline specific sites. You may locate multimedia materials that are ideal for the course you are teaching. To add notes or questions to videos from a variety of sources, explore EdPuzzle which if used as an assignment may be integrated with Blackboard.
Identify how you will communicate with students during any disruptions. Explain your expectations and procedures if class is cancelled or moves to remote teaching. Notify students by including a statement on the syllabus that you will modify the syllabus when necessary.
Review Trauma Aware Teaching Checklist.
Adequate preparation before the semester begins reduces faculty stress and increases opportunities for student success.
Use BLACKBOARD to provide online access to important course materials. All courses have an empty Blackboard course shell. All students will access the Blackboard course on the first day of class. Be sure to put course materials such as the syllabus on Blackboard.
Faculty have access to live sections of a course at least 8 weeks prior to the start of the semester. To begin work on your course at an earlier date, request a development section. Use this tutorial to copy content from a previous semester into the new Blackboard course shell.
If you are using another online platform, notify students and link to the platform in your Blackboard course. In all courses (including face-to-face), provide a copy of the course syllabus (sample syllabus) and access to student grades in Blackboard by using the gradebook and adding a My Grades link for student use in determining progress in the course throughout the semester.
Use of Blackboard promotes student learning and equity in a variety of ways. If using Blackboard, suggest that students download the Blackboard App to their smartphones.
To enhance student learning and reduce your workload, go beyond minimal Blackboard use (syllabus and grades) and provide students with access to important handouts, assignment guidelines, websites, and learning resources. Collect assignments on Blackboard, provide grading feedback, administer tests and quizzes, provide a course calendar, use the attendance and announcements features as well as discussion boards and other tools to promote ongoing and effective course communication and organization. Blackboard provides reports and other tools to improve teaching effectiveness and promote student learning.
Make sure course materials provided to students are accessible. The Ally tool in Blackboard will identify the accessibility of materials posted and provide guidance to improve accessibility. All students, not only those with disabilities, benefit from accessible course materials. Accessibility is not optional, it is a legal responsibility to provide accessible course materials.
You may use your Stockton issued Google Workspace accounts (Google Drive & YouTube) as an alternative solution for hosting multimedia files. ITS provides instructions on how to use Google Workspace with Blackboard to host video files.
If you use copyrighted films in your course, you may need to request that the library or your program purchase a streaming license or you may require students to subscribe to video services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime to view assigned films. Work with your subject librarian to determine how to meet the video needs of your course.
When creating or showing previously recorded video, remember to consider copyright restrictions, HIPAA regulations and FERPA protections. Specifically, a Zoom recording or recording made by students or containing student images, voices or names may not be used outside of the class section in which the student was enrolled without written consent of the student(s).
Course design involves planning and mapping out the student learning experience for each course you teach. Consider the students in your class and sequence of your course in the curriculum to determine the scope of course material that will be successfully presented.
Students in a 4 credit course should anticipate spending 12 hours a week engaged in coursework. Students may expect to have direct instruction (class) for 4 hours a week and complete 8 hours of work outside of the course meeting time (reading, studying, homework, assignment completion, etc.).
Consider student workload expecations in your course by using a workload calculator.
In Backward Design, student learning outcomes are used to consider what content and assignments are used to achieve student learning outcomes.
Readings, resources, activities and assignments are selected based on alignment with the student learning outcomes.
In short statements indicate what student skills, knowledge, or behaviors students will master as a result of taking your course. Make these statements explicit and state them clearly in the course syllabus.
Consider the most appropriate IDEA objectives for your course.
Use resources on the CTLD website to design your course by mapping out content to be covered and aligning activities and assignments to meet the student learning outcomes.
Develop an easy-to-use assessment plan to measure student progress in meeting the student learning outcomes for the course.
Provide a course calendar and information in the syllabus that guides students for the entire course. Organize course resources for student use on Blackboard. Use folders and navigation links aligned with class sessions and the syllabus to help students easily find course materials.
For each class/module, provide students with a clear overview of activities and learning expected for the class/week/module. If appropriate, provide students with a clear and succinct “to-do” list outlining instructional activities for the week.
If teaching hybrid or online, consider writing a weekly narrative overview of what you plan to do in Blackboard - a succinct synopsis paragraph of what will be covered, what to expect, what content to focus on, pertinent information students need to know, etc. Think of this narrative as an introductory overview you give in the first few minutes in a face-to-face course.
Incorporate active learning activitiesand assignments that keep students motivated and engaged in the learning process. When possible, provide alternate assignments that allow students to select the best method to demonstrate learning.
Plan how and when you will give formative and summative feedback and include that information on the syllabus, Blackboard, and remind students as needed. Ideally, responses to email are within 24-48 hours and feedback on assignments within a week. If there will be more delay, let students know when to expect feedback.
If you’d like to discuss ideas for streamlining feedback (audio/video feedback, rubrics, Turnitin, etc) and assignment grading, contact the Center for Teaching & Learning Design.
Need help with course design? Contact the Center for Teaching & Learning Design
Carefully select course materials and technology. In the syllabus clearly indicate materials and technology required for the course (e.g., textbooks (consider OERs), computer, internet, webcam, microphone, speakers, smartphone, etc.). If your course has no textbook costs or fees, consider applying to obtain a Z attribute for your course.
Copy wording from or use the CTLD sample syllabus to communicate information about the course.
Be sure all couse materials meet accessibility standards. Textbook publishers and software developers will provide a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) document explaining how their product conforms to accessibility guidelines. The Ally tool in Blackboard will identify the accessibility of materials posted and provide guidance to improve accessibility.
Check the bookstore or other sources to make sure course materials are available for student use before the first day of the semester. Check course links and information on Blackboard to make sure students have access and weblinks are updated.
Provide links to tutorials or other support information for any technology required in the course.
Consider communicating (email) with students prior to the start of the course. In that communication, briefly introduce yourself, explain your passion/enthusiasm for teaching the course, provide the course syllabus, and explain options available for students to communicate with you.
Communicate in a manner that helps students be motivated and excited about taking the course. If possible, allow students early access to your Blackboard course with the syllabus and first 2 weeks of course materials available (an online course should have at least first 4 weeks available).
This ITS website includes a video demonstrating use of technology located in Stockton classrooms. You may check with your school to determine the assigned classroom for your course(s) and visit the classroom prior to the start of the semester. If you need assistance with classroom technology, contact ITS.
Outline your personal needs for career advancement and professional development.
Plan and request any peer observationsneeded for the semester.
Consider deadlines for tenure, promotion, range adjustment or other professional needs.
Share your teaching passion and enthusiasm with students during the semester. Effective teaching involves creating a dynamic learning environment that fosters active engagement, critical thinking, and meaningful interactions. Inspire students to achieve academic goals and acquire valuable skills for future endeavors.
Communicate directly with students about what they will learn, why they are learning course information, and how learning will be evaluated. Use regular, frequent, consistent, and clear communication strategies to speak with students about the course and ease student anxiety by helping students stay on track in completing course learning activities.
Demonstrate respect and professionalism when speaking with students verbally, in writing, or using other forms of communication. Be clear and explicit in explaining assignments and other course expectations.
Help students benefit from the instructor's presence in a course that is online by using video to introduce yourself and the course. Use audio feedback, videos, Zoom open office hours, and other methods to support and communicate more directly with online students.
Provide clear, explicit information about your expectations for students to succeed in the course. Use the syllabus to explain how often you expect students to check their Stockton email, Blackboard or other course technology.
Request student feedback throughout the course.
Encourage and nurture student progress in the course. Offer praise and encouragement as students complete course work and master learning outcomes. Continue to make expected and accomplished learning explicit for students.
Demonstrate professional behavior and respect for all students in the class. Learn more about inclusive teaching resources at Stockton.
Prepare a document that you will use to take notes during and after each class session. A syllabus course schedule may be easily adapted for taking notes. Note what went well and what might be improved for each class session/module. This information will guide course redesign for the next time you teach the course or to share with others who will teach the course. Review your own notes and compare with student feedback.
Request student feedback throughout the course. Use brief feedback activities such as exit tickets, polling, index cards, or surveys to encourage students to share feedback on their experience in your course. At a minimum, use the midterm feedback survey. Be sure to review and reflect on student feedback. Make corrections or address student concerns before the end of the semester.
Be sure to review and reflect on student feedback. Consider sharing feedback with the class. Do not defend or argue with feedback provided, just share feedback so students may appreciate that class members provide different feedback. For example, 70% of the students in class may request more course discussions and 30% may request less discussions in class. It helps faculty and students to appreciate different learning preferences.
If you need assistance preparing materials or designing feedback methods for your course, contact the Center for Teaching & Learning Design.
To learn more about best practices and teaching methods based on empirical evidence that are appropriate for your courses and teaching preferences, contact the Center for Teaching & Learning Design.
The course syllabus should be a complete and organized outline of the entire semester. Student learning outcomes are used to organize course content and activities. To estimate the amount of time students will need to meet the course expectations, use a workload calculator.
The first day of class creates a first impression. Prepare to teach during the initial class session as opposed to spending the first class reviewing the syllabus. Provide students with a clear and explicit idea of course expectations. If you have not been to the classroom or used Blackboard, be sure to get to the classroom in advance to review features available or practice using Blackboard.
Plan every class session. Plan each session to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Outline the plan at the start of the class session. Avoid trying to cover too much material in a single class period. Students benefit from repetition and a chance to apply important information and connect learning to previous class sessions.
Prepare each course session. Consider creating an outline of how you intend to use the class session. Plan additional activities if you have more time during the class session. Make adjustments if a timed activity takes longer than expected. Make sure the important student learning desired for each class is achieved.
Use Blackboard to organize course materials and make materials available to students in a convenient manner that is available at any time. Utilize a student-centered approach to organization of course materials. The Ally tool in Blackboard will identify the accessibility of materials posted and provide guidance to improve accessibility. Need help designing an organized course on Blackboard? Contact the Center for Teaching & Learning Design.
Designing and Delivering PowerPoint Presentations: Avoid common presentation mistakes that decrease student learning. Employ best practices when using PowerPoint or other presentation software.
- use a simple design template
- maintain appropriate color contrast between the background and text
- use sans serif fonts at 32 point font
- use high quality images without cluttering the slide. To select images, use sites like Unsplash or Pexels to obtain free images and avoid violating image use copyright laws
- avoid too many animated effects that tend to detract from the information and may reduce the professional impact
- limit the number of slides; no more than one slide per minute
- keep the presentation organized
Do not read from the slides! Avoid facing the PowerPoint slide instead of making eye contact with the students. Information on the slides should supplement or emphasize the information being presented. If students just need to read content on a slide, there is no reason for a presentation.
Lectures: Consider that the person who is talking about the learning content is learning the most during a class session. Lectures that are passive (faculty doing most of the talking) do not increase student learning. Use lecture to actively promote learning and limit lecture to less than half of total class time. Use active learning, discussion, and activities that promote students talking about, working with, and applying learning concepts. Use a variety of teaching methods and consider inclusive teaching practices such as those described in Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Incorporating active learning strategies transforms classrooms into dynamic learning environments, nurturing well-rounded, skilled, and motivated students. The shift from a passive, teacher-centered approach to a more interactive, student-centered model, leads to better educational outcomes and student success.
Incorporate appropriate active learning activities:
Group discussions and debates: Divide students into small groups and assign discussion/debate on specific topics or questions related to the course material.
Problem-solving exercises: Present real-world or challenging problems that require students to apply course knowledge to find solutions.
Case studies and simulations: Present complex scenarios that students must analyze to bridge the gap between theory and practice and enhance decision-making abilities.
Peer teaching and presentations: Assign students to teach a topic to their peers. This reinforces content knowledge and promotes communication and presentation skills among students.
Think-pair-share: Ask students to think about a question or problem individually, then pair up with a classmate to discuss their thoughts before sharing their ideas with the whole class.
Role-playing and experiential learning: Incorporate role-playing activities or experiential learning exercises where students can immerse themselves in a specific situation to gain a deeper understanding of concepts and theories.
In-class quizzes and polls: Use quizzes/polling during lectures to gauge students' understanding in real-time.
Flipped classroom approach: Assign pre-recorded lectures or reading materials for students to review before class. Then, use class time for discussions, problem-solving, and clarifying doubts, allowing for more interactive engagement.
Project-based learning: Have students work on semester-long projects or research assignments that require them to explore a topic in-depth and apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios.
Collaborative technology: Utilize online collaboration tools, discussion forums, and interactive learning platforms to facilitate communication and engagement outside the physical classroom.
Field trips and guest speakers: Organize field trips to relevant locations or invite guest speakers from industry or academia to share their expertise and provide practical insights.
Reflection and metacognition: Encourage students to reflect on their learning process and metacognitively analyze their own understanding, strengths, and areas for improvement.
It's essential to adapt active learning strategies to suit the subject matter, class size, and the specific needs of the students.
To promote critical thinking, create a conducive learning environment that encourages and requires students to think critically. Review active learning approaches described in previous section. Additional effective approaches to consider:
Ask open-ended questions: Instead of straightforward factual questions, pose open-ended questions that require students to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information to arrive at well-reasoned answers.
Encourage class discussions: Foster a classroom atmosphere where students feel comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas. Engage in Socratic questioning to challenge assumptions and encourage deeper exploration of concepts.
Model critical thinking: Demonstrate critical thinking yourself during lectures or discussions. Share your reasoning processes describing how you evaluate evidence, identify assumptions, and draw conclusions.
Assign problem-solving tasks: Integrate real world scenerios, problem-solving exercises, and case studies.
Encourage diverse perspectives: Emphasize the importance of considering diverse viewpoints and encourage respectful debate and discussions.
Incorporate metacognition: Teach students about metacognition—the awareness and understanding of one's thinking processes. Encourage them to reflect on their thinking and problem-solving approaches.
Provide opportunities for self-directed learning: Allow students to pursue their inquiries and interests within the course framework. This autonomy fosters critical thinking as they take ownership of their learning.
Cultivating critical thinking is an ongoing process that requires consistent encouragement and support from educators. Review available resources.
Classroom discussion promotes student engagement, critical thinking, and learning. Best practices to facilitate effective classroom discussions include:
Creating a supportive environment: Create a safe space where students feel comfortable expressing opinions and ideas without fear of judgment. Encourage an inclusive atmosphere that values diverse perspectives.
Establishing clear expectations: Communicate the ground rules for participation. Encourage active listening, constructive feedback, and thoughtful responses.
Preparing thought-provoking questions: Develop open-ended questions that require higher-order thinking that challenge students to analyze, evaluate, and apply knowledge.
Using a variety of discussion formats: Incorporate different discussion formats, such as small group discussions, whole-class debates, fishbowl discussions, or think-pair-share activities. This variety keeps discussions fresh and engaging.
Assigning pre-discussion readings or materials: Provide students with relevant readings or multimedia resources before the discussion to ensure they come prepared and ready to engage in informed conversations.
Facilitating rather than dominating: As faculty, your role is to facilitate the discussion, not dominate it. Intervene only when needed to keep the discussion on track or ask guiding questions.
Using wait time: Give students a chance to process a discussion question and formulate their responses. Avoid rushing to fill the silence, as it may stifle thoughtful contributions.
Encouraging active participation: Encourage quieter students to participate with techniques like random calling or voluntary sign-ups.
Acknowledging and validating contributions: Value and acknowledge each student's input to validate and reinforce the importance of participation even if answers differ from your expectations.
Summarizing and synthesizing: Periodically summarize key points made during the discussion to reinforce important concepts and connections. Synthesize various contributions to show the relevance and depth of the discussion.
Reflecting on the discussion: After discussion, provide opportunities for students to reflect on what they've learned, what insights they gained, and how the discussion relates to course objectives. Share success stories related to current or previous discussions.
Using technology and multimedia for engagement: Consider using online discussion forums or interactive platforms to extend discussions beyond the classroom and encourage continuous engagement. As appropriate, incorporate multimedia resources.
Effectively grading assignments requires a fair, consistent, and constructive approach that provides valuable feedback to students in a manner thay supports student learning and growth.
Faculty are required to provide mid-semester progress feedback related to student performance. Instructions are provided via email.
Students should receive regular and ongoing feedback throughout the course and not be limited to final grades. Best practices to consider for grading include:
Clear grading criteria: Establish clear and transparent grading criteria that is communicated to students at the beginning of the course. Students must understand assignment expectations and how work will be evaluated.
Rubrics: Use rubrics to outline specific criteria and performance levels for each assignment. Rubrics help maintain consistency in grading and provide clear feedback to students on strengths and areas for improvement.
Timely feedback: Aim to provide timely feedback on assignments, preferably within a reasonable timeframe (one week for a typical assignment or if assignment requires additional time for feedback let students know).
Focus on learning objectives: Align the grading process with the course's student learning outcomes. Ensure that the assignments assess students' understanding of key concepts and their ability to apply what they have learned.
Anonymous grading (when possible): If applicable and practical, consider conducting blind or anonymous grading to minimize bias and ensure objectivity in the evaluation process.
Constructive & personalized feedback: Offer constructive feedback by pointing out specific strengths and weaknesses in the work. Provide personalized guidance on how students can enhance their performance.
Quality over quantity: Focus on the quality of student work rather than the quantity of assignments. Fewer, more substantial assignments can provide deeper learning experiences and reduce the grading burden.
Self-assessment and peer review: Encourage self-assessment and peer review processes for certain assignments. This helps students develop critical evaluation skills and takes some grading responsibilities off the instructor.
Maintain records: Keep detailed records of graded assignments, feedback provided, and any communication with students regarding their grades. This documentation can be valuable in case of grade disputes. Grading assignments in Blackboard allows easier recordkeeping.
Allow for reassessment (if appropriate): Consider allowing students to revise and resubmit certain assignments to encourage continuous learning and improvement.
Reflect on your grading practices: Regularly reflect on your grading practices to identify areas for improvement. Seek student feedback on the grading process to gain insights and make necessary adjustments.
Be flexible when emergencies, illness, hardships, trauma, and anxiety contribute to conditions that require a willingness to adapt to changing needs and circumstances. Being flexible or adaptable does not require lowering expectations or academic rigor, rather it requires faculty to be responsive to circumstances.
Class participation, attendance, and assignment deadline mandates may need to have leniency as circumstances warrant. Rely on University information and the Stockton CARES program to provide guidance in meeting student needs.
Request student feedback throughout the semester. Use student feedback to improve course design and teaching issues.
Obtain student feedback using simple methods such as exit tickets, polling, index cards, or surveys to encourage students to share feedback on their experience in your course. At a minimum, conduct and analyze results from a midterm feedback survey. Be sure to review and reflect on student feedback and make necessary adaptations.
Contact the CTLD for additional assistance or information.
In the event of a true emergency - medical situation, behavioral issue, or violence, call 911. If the situation is not an emergency but requires immediate attention, call the non-emergency number for Stockton police (609-652-4390).
If a student's behavior is potentially of concern or the student expresses a need that is not placing the student or others in immediate danger, make a CARES referral.
In the event of fire or other emergencies, follow instructions provided in the Emergency Guidelines located in each classroom.
Review classroom management startegies described in the classroom disruption protocol.
If a student reports sexual misconduct to a faculty member, faculty (except those designated Confidential) are obligated to report to the Title IX coordinator.
Our daily lives present a variety of physical, mental and emotional challenges, which are magnified by the pandemic. Teaching is an act of service and requires faculty to take care of ourselves so we are able to take care of our students and others. It is important to set aside time specifically to take care of yourself.
Well-being is enhanced when we share the joys and frustrations of teaching with each other. Reach out to support and be supported by colleagues - avoid isolation.
Students have access to course Blackboard materials for one week after the semester ends allowing students to review grading and feedback on final assignments. If you need students to have additional time to access Blackboard, contact ITS to learn how to extend the course availability. Blackboard courses are archived after 4 semesters by ITS. If you want to retain a copy of your course for future use, consider copying the course to a development section.
Submit final course grades by dates indicated on the academic calendar.
Spend time reviewing course notes, student feedback, student learning artifacts, and all course materials to reflect on the success of the course in meeting the student learning outcomes.
Document evidence of how well the course helped students meet the desired student learning outcomes. Consider course strengths and areas for improvement.
Share course review information with your program to assist with planning, assessment, and curriculum development.
Consider any area where employing new teaching strategies or technologies may make the course more efficient and effective.
Review the sample syllabus to make additions or revision to your course syllabus.
Consider all tenure, promotion, or evaluation needs for the next semester. Request peer observations needed in the upcoming semester, organize materials and work on file construction tasks ahead of deadlines. Plan time for scholarship activities and learn more about FAWN.