Best Practices for Teaching Effectiveness at NAU
The purpose of this project is to capture a shared understanding of what constitutes effective teaching at NAU.
There is great variety across units on campus in how “teaching activity” is measured and assessed for both promotion and retention decisions. This can create inequalities among units in how teaching is assessed. For instance, some units use a holistic assessment approach, while others focus solely upon quantitative end-of-semester student evaluation scores. One of several reasons the latter is problematic stems from research that has shown women and people of color tend to be graded more harshly using these evaluation tools. Further, these disparities, and the lack of uniformity across units, will most likely disadvantage lecturers, instructors, and faculty in other teaching track positions the most. Establishing a shared understanding of effective teaching is the first step in addressing these problems.
Having a common understanding of what constitutes high-quality, effective teaching can:
- Broaden the general understanding of good teaching,
- Help both new and experienced teachers recognize and adopt fresh teaching strategies,
- Lead to more successful student learning,
- Help units create holistic assessments of “teaching activity” for promotion and retention evaluation that more accurately reflect the practice of and preparation for quality teaching and recognize valuable contributions,
- Provide structure to the NAU Teaching and Learning Center,
- Focus faculty development offerings and limited resources where they may have the greatest impact, and
- Communicate our institutional commitment to the highest levels of quality teaching to both our students and external constituents
Purposeful Pedagogy: Applying intentional course design and teaching practices
Content Aligned with Learning Outcomes Accordion Closed
Align content with established course and program curriculum as defined by clearly stated course- and program-level learning outcomes. Ensure that established, relevant, current, diverse, and high-quality content is taught with appropriate rigor.
Active Learning Accordion Closed
Structure appropriate active learning tasks throughout the course to help students learn content.
Assessment of Course Learning Outcomes Accordion Closed
Include multiple forms of assessment that are aligned with course learning outcomes, that take place early and often, that include a clear statement of criteria for success that measure that students are learning content and that contribute to the overall unit goals.
Feedback to Students Accordion Closed
Provide timely and meaningful feedback on student work using clear and concise language. Clearly state turn-around time on your grading. Ensure students can access their current grade for the course at any given time (e.g. using the LMS grade center).
Environment for Learning: Creating conditions in which students can learn and thrive
Strong Start – Strong Finish Accordion Closed
Help your students know what they need to do to be successful from Day One, and help them continue to realize their fullest potential throughout the full duration of the class.
Enthusiasm Accordion Closed
Show enthusiasm and share your passion about the content.
Learning-centered Accordion Closed
Consider what your students need to learn when planning course content and class sessions. Address course learning outcomes to the student, using language that they can understand.
Clarity Accordion Closed
Provide clear expectations for successful completion of learning activities and assessments. Provide detailed instructions, examples, rubrics and checklists so students can see what they should do and how and when they should do it.
Inclusive Excellence: Helping all students feel supported and welcome
Rapport Accordion Closed
Interact with your students both in- and out-of-class to build rapport, using professional yet friendly language to cultivate a classroom environment that is inclusive, civil and respectful of diverse perspectives.
Content Diversity Accordion Closed
Incorporate diverse objectives, content, examples and activities into course.
Universal Design Accordion Closed
Provide accessible content, practice, assessment and guidance using a variety of formats and forms of instruction in line with Universal Design for Learning principles.
Instructor Accessibility Accordion Closed
Make yourself available outside of the classroom. Be responsive to student needs, holding office hours and offering appointments for alternative meeting times if appropriate.
Continuous Improvement Accordion Closed
Demonstrate a commitment to and record of reflection, professional development and continuous improvement that integrates lessons learned from your teaching, student performance, and student feedback.
Course Administration: Streamlining course logistics so students can focus on learning
Organization Accordion Closed
Structure the course with well-coordinated use of in-class and out-of-class time including appropriate use of technology to support student learning.
Policy Accordion Closed
Provide and enforce clear and consistent syllabus policies that also satisfy university policies.
Content Requirements Accordion Closed
Ensure your course content meets the requirements of your unit, program, college and accrediting body if appropriate.
Consistency Accordion Closed
Coordinate course learning outcomes, content, assessments, and expectations across sections so students have an equitable learning experience regardless of instructor or class section.
Please use this form to provide feedback on the “Best Practices for Teaching Effectiveness” guidelines. Let us know how they could be improved to be more clear, inclusive and practical.
The NAU Teaching Academy, with a mission to be a catalyst in advancing a learner-centered culture that values and supports excellence in teaching and educational scholarship, is uniquely positioned to lead the effort to capture this shared understanding and promote its application across the institution.