Resources on effective teaching practices (August 6, 2021)

Summary: this message outlines teaching practices that faculty and students found effective throughout the pandemic and provides links to further information and resources from the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.

To: FAS Faculty
Cc: FAS Steering, FAS Dean’s Office, Yale College Dean’s Office, GSAS Dean’s Office, Poorvu Center, Provost’s Office, President’s Office

Dear FAS Faculty,

We recognize and appreciate the hard work you’ve done to help students manage and thrive in challenging circumstances. Thank you for your continued efforts. As you prepare for in-person instruction this fall, we want to highlight several teaching practices that both you and your students found effective throughout the pandemic. For many of you, these practices will already be familiar.

The Canvas learning management system serves a foundational role facilitating many of the approaches below. We encourage you to contact the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, explore the Canvas help resources, or attend a Canvas workshop to take full advantage of the platform’s instructional design and communication functionalities to more easily organize your course site into one that students can better use and value.

Compiled by the Poorvu Center, the following list is based on faculty surveys, course evaluation data, and conversations with instructors and students. The links provide additional information on each approach.

  1. Well-being: Check in with students, allow for breaks, and integrate informal conversations. Remember to give equal priority to your own well-being.
  2. Small groups: Consider how group activities may enhance discussion and student interactions, and how groups could balance opportunities for participation.
  3. Asynchronous approaches: Provide selected course content outside of class time to increase time for in-class engagement and allow students to review at their own pace.
  4. Modified assessments: Offer formative, incremental assessments to facilitate learning over time rather than high-stakes timed exams, including popular modifications like classroom polling, Canvas Quizzes, and Gradescope for fair and efficient grading.
  5. Accessible course materials: Build flexibility into the course design to support student accessibility without altering learning objectives or class rigor. Technological tools (such as ALLY) can alert instructors to accessibility obstacles and facilitate improvements to course materials.
  6. Virtual office hours: Provide alternative formats for one-on-one conversations, allowing students to attend office hours on Zoom or in person.
  7. Class recordings: Filming or recording lectures creates valuable opportunities for student review and can increase accessibility of course content via captions or transcripts. The Poorvu Center can recommend ways to ensure in-person attendance provides additional and vital benefits.

These successful practices have taken on new significance in the context of a global pandemic, and we encourage you to continue implementing them in your classrooms. We hope you enjoy the last weeks of summer and look forward to an exceptional fall semester.

Best wishes,

Tamar, Marvin, and Lynn

Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Marvin M. Chun
Dean of Yale College
Lynn Cooley
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences