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Teaching Toolbox

At its core, pedagogy is the art, science, methods, and profession of teaching. Pedagogy can be viewed as an umbrella housing many related portions, which focus on topics such as methods, cultural aspects, practice, assessment of learning, and more. The teaching toolbox provides information for faculty and instructions for improving teaching through new pedagogical methods and assessment of student learning. The toolbox also provides resources to help build spaces that are equitable and inclusive and creating engaged learning opportunities. Think of this as a jumping off point and we encourage you to keep exploring the pedagogical world.  

  • Effective Course Design

    Backward Design

    Backward Design differs from classic beginning-to-end approaches to instructional design where the instructor first decides what content to teach before developing activities and assessments for the resulting learning. Backward Design instead begins with desired end goals by focusing on what the learner will learn, rather than what the teacher will teach. In this sense, Backward Design is a student-centered approach.   

    There are three steps to backward design:

    1. Identify desired results

    In this step you will determine course learning outcomes. What do you want students to know and be able to do by the end of the course (or the unit)? What are the big ideas that students should retain?

    You'll want to do this for the entire course and then for each unit/lesson once you have determined the course content and organization.

    2. Determine acceptable evidence

    In this step you will determine summative assessment of learning. How will students demonstrate knowledge? How will you know if students have achieved the desired results? What will you accept as evidence of student understanding and proficiency?

    3. Plan learning experiences and instruction

    In this step you will determine course content, formative assessments, and how you will deliver the content. Some guiding questions to ask are:

    • What enabling knowledge (facts, concepts, principles) and skills (processes, procedures, strategies) will students need in order to perform effectively and achieve desired results?
    • What activities will equip students with the needed knowledge and skills?
    • What will need to be taught and coached, and how should it best be taught, in light of performance goals?
    • What materials and resources are best suited to accomplish these goals?

    Read more about Backward Design from Wiggins & McTighe (1998) Understanding by Design 

    Library Resources

    Explore the books about course design in higher education available from University Libraries.

  • Promising Practices for Undergraduate Success

    This toolkit provides an overview of six promising practices that instructors can use in their classrooms to support undergraduate student success. These include taking attendance, early low-stakes assessment, low-cost/no-cost textbook options, increased availability for student meetings, UNC progress reports, and student reporting.

    Implementing one or more of these strategies into your classroom practice can help students be successful.

    Promising Practices Toolkit for Undergraduate Success

  • Syllabus Development

    The syllabus is often the first point of contact that our students have with you and our course. It sets the tone for the course regarding how a student views the classroom climate. The syllabus is an important tool in communicating course learning outcomes to students and outlining the course requirements and schedule. It should be an invitation into a positive learning experience.

    The CETL encourages equity-minded syllabus design. An equity-minded syllabus helps students have a positive experience in the course from day one. An equity-minded syllabus promotes student motivation and academic success. 

    Syllabus Resources

  • Assessment

    Visit the Assessment Toolbox for an overview of assessment practice at UNC. There is also a toolbox for Classroom Assessment and Program Assessment.

    What is Authentic Assessment?

    Authentic assessment moves away from evaluating mastery skills with quizzes and exams by requiring application of course knowledge to a new situation. Authentic assessments focus on complex, real-world situations that require a student to think about application of knowledge and skills in society rather than just in the classroom.

    Library Resources

    Explore the books about authentic assessment available from University Libraries.

  • Equity & Inclusion

    UNC is committed to the transformative power of education for all members of the campus community. University values of equity, inclusion, and diversity in the broadest sense create an environment where all UNC members can fulfill their potential. These values are important in the classroom, and this section of the toolkit provides resources for developing inclusive classrooms. Inclusive classrooms are characterized by:

    • Assuring that the classroom is usable by students with differing characteristics, including accessible work stations and appropriate lighting and acoustic characteristics, etc.
    • Building and maintaining an environment where all students feel comfortable expressing their opinions.
    • Reviewing course content from multiple standpoints.
    • Including research and writings from authors of diverse backgrounds.
    • Being cognizant that scholars are influenced by their own worldview and their scholarship reflects this.
    • Using multiple teaching methods to aid the academic success of students with varying learning styles.
    • Encouraging critical thinking and academic excellence in a respectful environment.
    • Recognizing and appreciating within-group differences, meaning that not all members of any particular group will hold the same opinion on any given issue.
    • Assuring that all activities, materials, and equipment are physically accessible to and usable by all

    For more information on inclusive classrooms, see Saunders & Kardia (1997) Creating Inclusive College Classrooms.  Also review the presentation on inclusive classrooms from UNC's Department of Equity & Inclusion.

     

    Library Resources

    Explore the books about inclusive learning available from University Libraries.

  • Engaged Learning

    Community engaged teaching and learning provides students opportunities to apply content and disciplinary knowledge beyond the classroom, thus enhancing their learning experience while also positively impacting our communities. Community Engaged Learning (CEL) combines academic coursework and high impact practices by collaborating with partners to address challenges through:

    • engagement practices that address societal needs identified by a community
    • intentional integration of learning outcomes co-created with community partner(s)
    • student preparation and ongoing critical reflection
    • clearly articulated mutual benefits for students, community, and campus partners
    • opportunities to critically examine social issues and situate self within a community setting

    Visit the Office of Academic Community Engagement Faculty Toolkit for Engaged Learning

    Visit the Office of Academic Community Engagement webpage for more information

    Library Resources

    Explore the books about community engaged learning available from University Libraries.

  • Get to Know UNC Students

    Visit Institutional Reporting and Analysis Services for details about student enrollment and student success.  UNC conducts numerous surveys of students.  Contact the Office of Assessment for information about alumni placement and undergraduate student experiences and satisfaction.  The Graduate School conducts annual surveys of graduate students that provide feedback on their experiences at UNC.