Center for Teaching and Learning

Preparing to teach

Instructors at the UW may need to prepare for a variety of teaching experiences. Not only does this process include designing or revising your course and syllabus, it also involves knowing the type of class you are teaching (e.g. large foundation class or small seminar), understanding who your students are, understanding academic integrity policies and practices, and developing productive faculty/TA working relationships.

Teaching different types of classes

One size does not fit all! Classes differ by size and format (e.g. discussion, lecture, online or hybrid) and are divided along disciplinary lines.  It is important for you to consider the unique characteristics of your class composition and to tailor the course structure, assignments and activities to best support student learning. Paying attention to these details will create a learning environment in which students can successfully meet learning objectives.

Teaching different types of classes

Designing your course and syllabus

An effective course design begins with understanding your students; deciding what you want them to learn; determining how you will measure student learning; and planning activities, assignments and materials that support student learning. The syllabus provides the instructor and students with a common reference point that sets the stage for learning throughout the course. Although courses may vary in size, subject matter or level, a systematic process will help you plan and structure your course and syllabus to effectively reach desired instructional goals.

Course and Syllabus Design

Teaching the first day of class

A successful first day can be a key component of a successful quarter.  You should envision the first day as more than just a time to review your syllabus. It is an opportunity for you to establish expectations, set the tone and to get to know your students.

Teaching the first day of class

Lecturing

Lectures can provide structure and organization to scattered material, help to pace student learning and provide alternative perspectives or sources of information to supplement written and other material used in the course.

Lecturing

Constructing tests

Designing tests is an important part of assessing students understanding of course content and their level of competency in applying what they are learning.  Whether you use low-stakes and frequent evaluations–quizzes–or high-stakes and infrequent evaluations–midterm and final–careful design will help provide  more calibrated results.

Constructing tests

Critiquing student projects

Working with student projects in a studio, going over the planning stages of a research project, or working with students putting together a business presentation are all examples of situations in which you may need to critique student projects. Critiquing provides an opportunity to share with students what you know, to enable them to see various options, or to identify flaws in their reasoning or design.

Critiquing student projects

Grading

Grading is an extremely complex task. Grades do not exist in a vacuum, but are part of the instructional process and serve as a feedback loop between instructor and student. It follows, then, that grading policy should be consistent with the learning objectives for the course.

Grading

Cultivating faculty and TA working relationships

Coordination and collaboration are the corner stones of a successful faculty/teaching assistant team. Setting appropriate expectations, delegating work and establishing effective modes of communication early will increase the chances of success. This is especially true as the team negotiates course-related issues such as grading, office hours, section content and student relations.

Cultivating faculty and TA working relationships

Information and resources: Just for TAs

Graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are vitally important members of the UW teaching community.  The information and resources on this page are designed to help TAs prepare for their role(s) and responsibilities.

Just for TAs: Information and resources