Pedagogy Portal

Classroom Dynamics

Subject Link Description
Engaging Students Ten Ways to Make Your Teaching More Effective These are ideas from UC – Berkeley to make your teaching better
  Minimizing the Distances Between Teacher and Student This site has some tips for improving the communication in the classroom.
  Getting to Know Your Students Getting to know students and getting to know about them are important prerequisites for effective teaching.  This site provides some hints for helping you to remember their names.
  Confidence in the Classroom This site contains ten suggestions for new instructors to become professionally effective and personally self-confident.
  Opening Closing Routines These are some suggestions for opening the lesson and closing the class.
  How can you quickly determine your students’ prior knowledge on a topic? When teaching students at any level, the instructor should not expect that the students will simply abandon their initial ideas and beliefs. Rather, it may be more effective for instructors to determine and explicitly draw on their students’ pre-existing knowledge and beliefs in order to help their students develop new ideas

What They Don't Know Can Hurt Them: The Role of Prior Knowledge in Learning

Current research on learning has offered more and more evidence for the extent to which new learning is determined by what the learner already knows about the topic or related topics. The effect can be either positive or negative, positive if the pre-existing knowledge is correct and consistent with the new information or negative if it is full of misconceptions or conflicts with the new information.
  Staying in Touch Because students find it very risky to admit that they don't know something, the initiative for keeping in touch must come from the teacher. These tips offer some suggestions to help you keep in touch and, when necessary, to work out ways to get everyone back on track.
  Allaying Students' Anxieties About Tests The suggestions provided here are designed to help you prepare your students to do their best on tests.
  Six Ways to Improve Your Non-verbal Communication This short article addresses the different types of non-verbal communication and suggests ways that faculty can improve their own.
First Day of Class 101 Ideas for a Great Start The following list of "101 Ideas" is offered in the spirit of starting off well. No one will be able to use every idea, but some of these may offer fresh ways of creating a positive learning environment in class. Even if the syllabus is printed and notes are ready to go, we can make adjustments in teaching methods as the course unfolds and the characteristics of our students become known.
Top 15 suggestions These are 15 suggestions for the first week of class that will help to enhance the learning experience.
The First Day of Class Because the first day of class is so important in setting the tone for what is to come, it is crucial to think carefully about how you present yourself and how you get the course established.
Icebreaker Activities Listed here are 32 different techniques that establish a positive environment and provide an opportunity for students to get to know one another and the instructor.
The First Day of Class...A Day of Missed Opportunities? Many teachers devote the first class meeting to giving a general description of the course and its requirements and, after answering questions about the course, either begin to lecture or dismiss the class early. But there are many things you can do on the first day that will help establish rapport with the students, prepare them for the semester's work, and generate excitement about the course subject matter
Getting Started the Right Way Getting started "right" the first day with a class can make all the difference in how things go for the rest of the semester. Here are some excellent tips on this from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Indiana State University
The first day of class Here are some guidelines for faculty to get the class started correctly.  There are links to videos of award-winning professors on their first day of class.  There is also a link to a First Day Questionnaire for students.
Break the Ice The first day of class is usually spent in part by getting acquainted and establishing goals. Icebreakers are techniques used at the first session to reduce tension and anxiety, and also to immediately involve the class in the course. Use an icebreaker because you want to, not as a time filler or because teaching guides say one should be used.  Listed here are a number of ice-breakers that can be used.
101 Things You Can Do The First Four Weeks of Class Here are some additional ideas to help you create the best possible environment for learning early in the course. The first four weeks of a course are especially important, studies say, in retaining capable students.
Large Classes Large Class Teaching Tips This site has short summaries of ideas that instructors at Iowa State University have contributed
Teaching Large Classes Here are a few strategies that will allow you to break up your lecture, assess your student's understanding, and engage them in learning. The resources below are just a few of the techniques that have been used by other faculty teaching large classes.
Beating the Numbers Game: Effective Teaching in Large Classes Richard Felder, from N. Carolina State offers some tips for engaging students in large classes.
Teaching Large Classes This is a video by Graham Gibbs, from Dalhouse University, U.K.
Large Classes: A Teaching Guide : Discussion Some ways in which discussion has been used successfully in a large class setting are found here. Lecture plans should include time for discussion once you have considered what kinds of questions you will ask and the purpose you want the discussion to serve.
Last Day of Class The Last Day of Class Here are some ideas from Berkeley faculty for making the last day of class dynamic and memorable.
Mid-semester Slump The Doldrums: Overcoming Midsemester Slump

Midsemester is the time for something new and different, something to break up the semester, to re-engage students. Here's a list of some of the many things you can do to re-energize your course and your students (and perhaps yourself):

Motivating Students Capturing and Directing the Motivation to Learn This article discusses what is known about motivation and then provides hints as to how instructors can increase student motivation in their classes.
Motivating Students' Best Work This site – from Berkeley – contains links to information in three areas: Identify the Knowledge and Skills Students Bring, Give Students Skills and Knowledge to Do Well In Class, and Develop Positive Relationships With Students
Motivating Students This site has some suggestions for improving your teaching by motivating students.
Motivating Students The author of this article suggests that whatever level of motivation your students bring to the classroom will be transformed, for better or worse, by what happens in that classroom.
Other Teaching in Difficult Times and in Times of National or International Stress Originally developed as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, these pages have been modified to provide helpful ideas for dealing with emergencies and crises.