This downloadable kit contains definitions for hybrid, online, and face-to-face course formats; a syllabus template; a course plan template, module templates, a sample module, and sample learning assessment plans.
Research amply demonstrates that students learn and perform better when they understand what they're supposed to learn from assignments and why certain learning activities are being used. Some fairly easy changes to your assignments can produce far better student work.
Sample syllabus that meets Cal Poly Pomona's syllabus policies and scores high on the rubric – feel free to adopt and adapt (this one's for quarters; one for semesters is on the way)
Organize your course
Research shows that organization and clarity are the most important factor in creating a course that helps students to succeed. As a bonus, an organized, clear course enhances your identity as a professional in your discipline and leads to better student ratings.
The Quality Matters template provides a ready-made organizational structure and some pre-populated useful information for your students.
It's much easier to create your course materials to be accessible to students with disabilities in the first place instead of going back to fix them when you have students who are eligible for accommodations.
Here's a course calendar planning template that includes space for active learning strategies. Although it was developed for quantitative courses, you can use it in any course.
Tools at Cal Poly Pomona (turnitin, calibrated peer review)
Labs, studios, and activity courses
Getting feedback while a class is ongoing is the best way to improve.
From students: Getting midterm feedback helps you solve problems in time for your current group of students. It helps you find ways to reach your particular group of students, and it helps keep you from being surprised by end of term student rating results. It's best to do this by Week 5 of the semester. You MUST circle back and tell your students 1) what you learned from their feedback, 2) what you are willing to do in response, and 3) what you are NOT willing to do and why. If you don't circle back, it's worse than if you had not asked in the first place. Don't ask for their input if you're not willing to respond or to change anything.
How to do it:
By yourself: See the website Ten Tools to Try and pick your favorite. (Bonus: Include a question that asks students what they need to do differently as well.)
From colleagues: Here's an online workshop about how to give and get collegial feedback on your classes. Note that this is NOT the same as official peer visits for RTP or lecturer evaluation.
From yourself: You are your own best source of feedback if you can muster up the discipline to keep a class journal at least once a week and then look over the journal as you prepare to teach the class again. Stephen Brookfield's Critical Incidents Questionnaire, modified to be from your perspective as the instructor, is a good framework for consistent reflection. You can also use teaching diary prompts.
How we know if they know: Classroom Assessment
It's useful to know before a test if students are actually “getting it.” Classroom assessment techniques (CATs) are quick, fairly easy to implement activities that deliberately probe students' progress and understanding. The information you gain from CATs can help you adjust your instruction to meet students' needs batter – and can help students to adjust their own activities to learn better.