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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips are quick resources you can implement in your classrooms. The tips vary from building community in the classroom, to classroom management or metacognition strategies. The CTL will announce a teaching tip of the month. If you wish to receive these tips by e-mail, complete this subscription form.

To request a consultation on utilizing a teaching tip you are interested in, complete this Consultation Request Form.

Using Universal Design For Learning to Meet the Needs of All Students

Are you concerned that your teaching isn’t reaching all of your students? Are you looking for strategies to assist students who struggle to learn for a variety of reasons, without compromising the rigor of your course?

One way to help all students succeed is to remove barriers from course design, teaching methods, and teaching materials. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an effective pedagogical approach that removes such barriers and enhances learning for students with varied backgrounds, learning preferences, and abilities. Put simply, UDL encourages instructors to design courses that give students options on how to engage in course activities, provide students with choices in how they access and interact with course content, and let students choose from among multiple ways to demonstrate what they have learned.

Applying universal design principles helps to ensure that a course is accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, under as many circumstances as possible.

Three Strategies for Incorporating UDL into Your Teaching

  • Represent course content in a variety of media. Allow students to access the same or similar information in a variety of audio, visual, and textual formats. For example, students learning about earthquakes could read an article, view an animation of a fault, study a labeled diagram, listen to an interview with a seismologist, and view a closed-circuit video of the effects of an earthquake.

  • Provide students with many ways to engage and interact with course content. Engage students in active learning involving different senses. Students might interpret a print from a seismograph, identify potential fault locations on a topographic map, construct a miniature fault with clay, and experiment with blocks on a shake table. Alternatively, you might ask each student to choose two activities they find most appealing or most useful.

  • Allow students to demonstrate their understanding in multiple formats. Provide students multiple ways to express what they have learned (for example, through group work, oral presentations, or report writing). Students could also write lesson plans or develop their own assessments. Concerned about grading multiple submissions in multiple, diverse formats? Create a single grading rubric aligned with the learning objectives of the assignment, and apply that rubric to each submission.

For more information, visit “Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning at Boise State.”

To learn more about the theory and practice of UDL, explore the website of the National Center on Universal Design for Learning.

For more information about accessibility and UDL, see Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) at the University of Washington.

Submitted by:
Tasha Souza
Professor of Communication
Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
Boise State University

Kevin S. Wilson
Instructional Design Consultant
Instructional Design and Academic Assessment (IDEA Shop)
Boise State University

Supporting Trans & Non-Binary Students

The Crucial First Five Minutes of the Semester
Many students spend the first day of class braced against various types of disrespect—professors who mispronounce their names, call them by the wrong name entirely, misgender them, and so on. Students who are worried about not being treated with respect can’t concentrate on what we’re saying. Here you will find a few reliable techniques to establish mutual respect with students in the first class meeting. (more…)

The Last Day of Class: Beginning at the End

Final Examination Review. Term Project Presentations. Last minute questions. These are some common topics for the last day of class that underscore the ending of the course.   But if college graduations are called “commencements,” can we redefine the last day of class as a beginning?

We hope that our students will carry with them what they have learned, and apply, integrate, and develop this knowledge well beyond the final exam or term project. In this sense, the ending of the course is, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, where students start from.  The last day of class offers you a chance to glimpse into your students’ future and foresee the lasting impact of your teaching. (more…)

Make the First Day of Class Set the Stage for Success

Ever feel like your first day of class is full of dreaded administrative tasks and boring syllabus review?  When reflecting on your “first days,” how would you say you meet the following first day of class goals (Desrochers, 2008).

Goal #1 Establish motivation for the course

  • Do a vivid demonstration or something attention-getting
  • Describe (or elicit) how the course will benefit students

Goal #2 Frame the entire course (more…)

Responding to Challenging Comments in Class: Taking ACTION with a Communication Framework

Despite the feelings of paralysis that take over when a student makes a comment in class that seems inappropriate or offensive, certain practices can be implemented to increase the likelihood of maintaining a supportive climate and positive learning environment. The following is one strategy (of many offered) meant to be adapted, practiced, and utilized so that you can be better equipped to effectively respond to challenging comments in the classroom when they arise. (more…)