Center for Teaching and Learning
Engaging Students in Learning
Research has demonstrated that engaging students in the learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills, and promotes meaningful learning experiences. Instructors who adopt a student-centered approach to instruction increase opportunities for student engagement, which then helps everyone more successfully achieve the course’s learning objectives.
A pedagogy-first approach to teaching in which in-class time is re-purposed for inquiry, application, and assessment in order to better meet the needs of the individual learners.
Inclusive teaching means teaching in ways that do not exclude students, accidentally or intentionally, from opportunities to learn. The CTL proposes strategies for inclusive teaching and provides resources, examples, and perspectives from students and faculty to help members of the UW teaching community teach more inclusively.
Active learning requires students to participate in class, as opposed to sitting and listening quietly. Strategies include, but are not limited to, brief question-and-answer sessions, discussion integrated into the lecture, impromptu writing assignments, hands-on activities, and experiential learning events. As you think of integrating active learning strategies into your course, consider ways to set clear expectations, design effective evaluation strategies, and provide helpful feedback.
While “good” discussions can be a powerful tool for encouraging student learning, successful discussions rarely happen spontaneously. Preparing ahead of time will help you delineate a clear focus for the discussion and set well-defined parameters. This will enable the class to address important topics from multiple perspectives, thus increasing students’ curiosity for, and engagement with, course content.
Large classes (100+ students) should not be limited exclusively to lecture-based teaching. Many instructors in small classes have successful strategies for encouraging active participation, but it can be difficult to translate these strategies to a large class format. In a large class, however, participation can be designed to get students actively solving problems, interacting with one another and the instructor, and processing course material.
In-classroom technologies—podium-based computers, wireless, real-time response systems (e.g., clickers), and web-based tools (e.g., blogs, online forums, wikis, podcasts, etc.)—continue to change rapidly. These tools have a high potential for supporting student learning in creative and innovative ways when properly aligned with the instructor’s learning objectives and course content.
Service-learning refers to learning that actively involves students in a wide range of experiences, which often benefit others and the community, while also advancing the goals of a given curriculum.
Office hours give students the opportunity to ask in-depth questions and to explore points of confusion or interest that cannot be fully addressed in class. It is important for UW instructors to encourage their students to come to office hours and to use that time effectively. We have two guides to help you: Face-to-Face Office Hours and Virtual Office Hours.