Intentionally Designed Educational Activities

Few college faculty receive training on how to teach. In graduate school, we learn about conceptual theories and research methodologies, but almost nothing about teaching and learning. As a result, most of us just try to do the best we can mimicking the styles of our faculty mentors. While the empirical research on teaching and learning has improved dramatically, faculty still have a hard time accessing this work easily and in a timely fashion. This is why we wrote Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Educational Activities to Put Students on the Path to Success.

Instructors need to be able to more readily access activities based on the growing body of empirical research on how to best teach students.

Our goal in writing the book was to review the research, develop specific activities that leverage the benefits identified in the literature, and provide a user-friendly format for faculty.

To that end, each of the IDEAs in the book follow the following format:

Overview

A brief description of the premise behind the IDEA.

Guiding Principles

This sections explains the theoretical and empirical basis for the IDEA. Specifically, we describe the primary research foundation for the activity.

Preparation

As with most teaching activities, some initial preparation is required. The amount of time needed varies tremendously, but it is critical for instructors to think through teaching activities in advance.

Process

In this section, we describe specific step-by-step instructions for successfully completing the activity.

Sample IDEA Pairings

One of the ways to change up an activity or improve the usefulness in a particular class is to pair one activity with another. We provide sample pairings that offer ways to vary an IDEA. (This really means you’re not getting 101 ideas, but over 300!)

Pro-tips

We all know that you have to try something two or three times to get it right in the classroom. In order to jumpstart your use of an IDEA, we’ve included tips from the pros to help you be more effective.

Research-based instructional methods

I hope that everyone who uses the book will learn from the activities we provide and that the book will serve as an easy to use resource for learning more about teaching and learning. There are obviously plenty of other activities that instructors can use beyond those we identified. Yet, I truly believe the book will be a valuable guide for faculty to use and adapt the IDEAs to improving their own instruction.