Teaching Methods

In the College of IST, we strive for students to learn deeply and meaningfully–yielding long-term understanding and enabling problem-solving in new contexts. This type of learning occurs when the student does the work of questioning, making connections, organizing information, and practicing skills. Instructors provide opportunities for meaningful learning when they coach students through instructional activities designed to engage novice thinkers with the content.

No teaching method assures that meaningful learning will occur, but some methods are shown to do a better job of engaging students meaningfully with the subject matter. This page offers a brief tour of teaching methods and learning outcomes associated with them.

Methods that Promote Meaningful Learning

The following teaching methods are built on the principle of engaging students actively in class and are shown to foster meaningful learning outcomes such as information seeking skills, application of knowledge, idea generation and high level reasoning, acceptance of others, perspective-taking, and long-term retention of concepts. All embody the seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987).

Suggestions to Actively Engage Students in Class

Not ready to change your methods completely? Here are some suggestions for how you can actively engage students in traditional lecture or discussion classes:

  • Incorporate “think, pair, share” for brief interactions (PDF)
  • Use classroom assessment techniques to stimulate discussion for designated periods of time (PDF)
  • Plan student-led discussion groups to engage students with content during breaks in lecture (PDF)
  • Orchestrate jigsaw groups to enrich discussion-based classes (PDF)