Tag Archives: strategies

Strategy Bites: A new blog series with ideas for getting students active in their learning


At the 2018 SALTISE conference held at McGill University in Montreal, keynote speakers Richard Felder and Rebecca Brent spoke on the topic of Understanding and Minimizing Resistance to Learner-centered Teaching. They pointed out that many students are accustomed to and comfortable taking notes while listening to instructors lecture. But being more active in class doesn’t necessarily appeal to students.

Strategies exist for addressing student resistance, such as:

  • being explicit with students about why you’re asking them to do active learning tasks and
  • varying your teaching methods so that students benefit from different types of learning opportunities. Read more.

Another point raised was that active learning strategies often take little classroom time. Over the coming weeks, this blog series will present “Strategy Bites”—a series of 2-3 minute videos produced by Teaching and Learning Services that describe how to implement a number of strategies we’re featuring based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. These blog posts will also address students’ perceptions of these strategies and offer links to additional resources. Stay tuned for some practical ideas!

Seeking help deciding which strategies to implement and how they’ll fit with your teaching? If you’re a McGill University instructor, contact Teaching and Learning Services for a one-on-one-consultation.

Featured Image photo credit: Victor Tangerman

Upcoming Webinars for McGill Instructors: Simple Strategies to Improve Student Learning


How can you help students remember more of what you teach them? How can you help students connect related concepts in your course?

Join Teaching and Learning Services for a webinar series that will address these questions and offer ideas on selecting teaching strategies based on how students learn.

  • November 21, 12:15-12:45pm: Remembering: Teaching students to remember important information
  • December 13, 12:15-12:45pm: Connecting: Teaching students to organize knowledge

We hope you can join us for a virtual lunch chat!

Register here.

How do I get students to engage with course readings?


Co-authors: Helle-Mai Lenk, Emiri Oda, Diane Maratta

This post, co-authored by McGill instructor Helle-Mai Lenk, her former student Emiri Oda, and Diane Maratta, a Learning Technology Consultant with McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services, describes the implementation of Perusall, a tool for engaging students with course readings by having them do online, asynchronous annotations in context to which peers can respond. Continue reading How do I get students to engage with course readings?

How to get students to have productive discussions using clickers


PhysPort posted a great article on “How can I get students to have productive discussions of clicker questions?” on their blog on supporting physics teaching with research-based resources.

Clicker questions are increasingly being used to stimulate student discussion and provide faculty and students with timely feedback. Research suggests that discussing clicker questions can lead to increased student learning, and that students exchanging constructive criticism can generate conceptual change.

What can you do as an instructor to encourage all students to have productive discussion? We conducted studies of what students say to each other during clicker discussions when instructors use different instructional techniques. Here’s what we and others have learned and how you can apply it in your classroom:

Clickers has been a very useful strategy to engage students in class in many universities (including McGill), even in large class environments. In-class feedback can help students focus on what is important, practice problems or ideas in class and enage with their fellow classmates in discussion.

Polling@McGill can be used for free by any instructor, TA or student on campus. Students can use their own smartphones, tablets or laptops to respond in real-time to questions in class. If you are interested in using the system, just sign up on the Polling@McGill website.

Are you using Polling@McGill in your courses? Do you have any stories you would like to share? Let us know!

Getting Students to Attend to Important Course Information: First Day myCourses “Scavenger Hunt”


magnifying-glass-with-words.JPGOn the first day of classes, I, like other instructors, share either a hard copy or electronic copy of the course outline with students. (Actually, at McGill, the course outline must be provided to students during the first week of classes according to the McGill Charter of Students’ Rights (Chapter One, Article 10.2 – amended by McGill Senate 21 January 2009 – of the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities, available as a PDF). I hope all students will be motivated to read it attentively on their own because it has information that is important for them to succeed at the course. But my hope has been repeatedly dashed. So, I tried a more directive approach: orally “walking” students through salient points of the course outline (can you say tedious?) and asking students to pose questions about anything that’s unclear. No questions. Great. It’s confirmation that I write clear course outlines. Probably not. More likely, students don’t have enough time to take in the content of this truly important document.

So, I switched approaches again. On the first day of class, students now have to engage in an awareness-raising activity whereby they have to find important information in the course outline. Continue reading Getting Students to Attend to Important Course Information: First Day myCourses “Scavenger Hunt”

Creativity (and why it’s important)


This post is part of the Aspirations to Action series created as a follow-up to the Teaching What’s Important Symposium.

As an aspiring urban planning scholar, I’m frequently exposed to discussions about the importance of creativity to cities. I should preface this by stressing just how multifaceted the field of urban planning is… There are so many ways to approach things in urban planning. It’s both a blessing and a curse really… but that is a story for another day and time.

Right. So. Creativity. Continue reading Creativity (and why it’s important)