What’s here for you?
The Learning Commons can be a resource for you in supporting your students’ learning. We’ve also included some resources that we think will support you in your teaching practice.
Here are some quick links to a couple of resources to get you started:
- Copyright: UBC is moving to a new copyright environment. Your teaching, learning and research will be affected. Find out how…
- Accommodating students with disabilities UBC is committed to providing access for students with disabilities while maintaining academic standards. The process can be complex, learn why…
Teaching First Year Students
The following strategies are based on the experiences of Faculty who have successfully taught classes of first year students. They are adapted from Carnegie-Mellon University’s: Best Practices for Teaching First Year Undergraduates: Strategies from Experienced Faculty (2002).
Clearly outlining your expectations for assignments, time spent studying, collaboration, and approach to learning that is expected in your class will help students lay their own pathway for how to progress with your class in relation to others.
Encouraging students to ask questions and inviting them to visit you during office hours will go a long way to helping them feel comfortable.Highlighting the learning resources that you recommend right in your syllabus (for example the toolkits on this site) can direct students to the learning resources that will be most helpful to them. After all, they will be looking to you for advice on what they can do to support their learning in your course.
Remember that although your content may be old hat to you, it is new and exciting for the young students in your class. Bring your enthusiasm and it will be contagious.
Be clear with students about your role in the class and your boundaries (with regard to contact hours for students. Do what is comfortable for you.
Learning the names of your students can go a long way to helping students feel less anonymous and ignored. Your TA can help with this.
First year students often feel that faculty members are too important to bother them with their small problems. Coming to class early just to talk to students can help you establish a good working relationship and demonstrate your accessibility.
Take time to check in with students and mingle with the class during group work assignments.
Ask students about themselves.
Tell students why office hours are important and how they can benefit them.
Consider required appointments as an icebreaker.
Choose office hours strategically, 2-3 days before assignments are due.
Word of mouth is powerful. Make office hours count for both you and your students. Be prepared, approachable, listen and respond to students concerns.
Highlight major points at the beginning of a lecture. Have an outline and bring students attention to main concepts that you will cover. This prepares students for listening and note taking.
Draw on examples that students can relate to to explain challenging concepts. This can help students relate new information to what they already know.
Ask questions that promote discussion. This can help students monitor where they are in relation to others and help you to know what they don’t know. CTLT has resources on asking good questions and Clickers (which are often used to supplement discussion in large classes).
Summarize main points periodically. This helps students monitor their comprehension and provides natural points for asking questions.
Tell students when you are introducing information that is not in their text or providing new information for discussion. this helps students see that lectures are more than a regurgitation of what they can read in their texts.
Consider the role of in-class assignments and discussion as a way to use time together as a learning community. Students may start to feel more accountable for their attendance and participation.
Start class on time so that students learn the importance of promptness.
Ask questions that require students to read between the lines or probe into the implications of the topic under discussion.
Choose examples that highlight the relevance of the material to real life.
Use scenarios, problem based learning or debate in class to help students delve into a topic in order to solve a problem or present a convincing argument.
Establish a pattern for due dates, problem sets, etc. A weekly or bi-weekly routine helps inexperienced plan their time more efficiently.
Consider assignments that build upon each other so that the learning from one activity can be leveraged in the next, etc.
Help students develop a greater awareness of their thinking strategies and ways to enhance them. Our critical thinking toolkit is a good resource with some practical suggestions.
Challenge talented students by helping them get involved in Undergraduate research or other opportunities to extend their learning.
Ensure that students have the opportunity to explore their own interests whenever feasible.
Contact every student who does poorly on a first exam. Assure them that this is common for students adjusting to university and refer them to resources that can help them like our Exam/study prep toolkit.
Notice when students seem out of sorts and ask about them. You may want to discuss with them a referral for counselling or wellness services or a so that they can get the support they need.
Learn about the more serious signs of a student at risk.
Teaching and Learning Resources Portal: Resources to support your development as both a teacher and learner. Associated pages contain an overview and bibliography on a diverse range of teaching and learning topics, strategies, issues and tools.
Teaching Toolkits: If you want to integrate digital technology or open practices into your teaching, check out the Toolkits and find how-tos, examples and resources to support your work.
The Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology partners with others in the university community to deliver a variety of workshops and events aimed at supporting teaching and learning at UBC.
Research Based Principles for Effective Teaching
- Group Work Toolkit for Students
- Group Work Toolkit for Faculty (from the U.of Wisconsin)
- Video Resources for Faculty (see below)
Video 1: An overview of group work: Why do we do it and what are the benefits?
Video 2: Tips for Facilitators