Tools & Strategies

Undertaking an innovation in your instructional strategies might involve a major change like flipping your classroom or incorporating a service learning project - or it might be something as small as changing the way you talk about your learning outcomes for an assignment. This page is a place to share practical, direct advice and suggestions about how to achieve your goals in the classroom. Let us know if you have a tip or a tool to share. Send email to

Writing Assignments

Review the basic connection between your assignments and your learning outcomes. The English Department found it helpful to have a conversation about how much writing it wanted students to do, and what kinds of writing assignments were most relevant to the stated learning outcomes. This discussion strengthened the distinctions between 2000, 3000, and 4000-level courses. The Writing Assignments document (pdf) reflects the English Department's conclusions. Faculty in any department could have an analogous conversation about relevant disciplinary priorities.

Exploded Syllabus

Don't take for granted that first year students know how to read and use a syllabus. First year students' transition to college can be eased if they understand a key tool: the course syllabus. Many incoming students state that their high school teachers gave them syllabi, but that students were not held to the terms laid out there. This can lead to a painful realization that extra credit and last-minute make-up work is not an option in most college classes. Faculty use the exploded syllabus (pdf) at Orientation to explain University vocabulary and expectations, but it's always a good idea to discuss these basics with students.