Archived Teaching Tips 2012


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December 2012 - Rehearsal and Practice

As we are nearing the end of the semester and final exams are in sight, provide opportunities for guided practice and rehearsal to your students to reinforce learning and increase retention. Two major factors affect the quality of the rehearsal: the amount of time and the type of rehearsal activity.

  1. Rote rehearsal is for remembering and storing information in the same form that it entered working memory. This method is used for memorizing lists, facts, definitions. Strategies to teach students:
    1. mnemonic devices
    2. number memory techniques
  2. Elaborative rehearsal helps students process the information so that it’s more meaningful. It takes more time but it results in deep learning. Elaboration strategies include:
    1. forming associations
    2. organizing information into categories
    3. outlining
    4. clustering concepts into taxonomic categories with shared characteristics
    5. paraphrasing
    6. summarizing
    7. creating analogies
    8. self-quizzing

Barkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

November 2012 - Teaching Through a Disaster

As the Montclair State campus community continues to get back on track after experiencing a disruptive week caused by Hurricane Sandy, we would like to offer some tips on how to be supportive to students in the classroom who are still recovering from home, work, or transportation issues. First, please follow all guidelines communicated by Montclair State administration, especially if you or your students require additional or specialized support services. Second, consider some of the steps outlined below to help address the stress of meeting educational goals and your student needs after a traumatic disaster. Third, review the list of technology resources (training and tools) sent by the Office of Information Technology (OIT; added below for your convenience) for ideas of how to provide access to resources and teaching materials to students who are still unable to make it to campus.

    Some helpful hints for stabilizing the emotions and behaviors of your students in your classes and returning to an improved mental and emotional state after a crisis to continue to promote an optimal learning environment are:
    1. Listen – provide opportunity to share experiences.
    2. Protect – inform students about events and what is being done in the community to keep everyone safe.
    3. Connect – help reestablish connections and a feeling of normalcy.
    4. Model calm and optimistic behavior.
    5. Teach – help students understand the range of normal stress reactions, invite counselors and professionals if needed.

Adapted by Professor Lori Ungemah, English, New Community College at CUNY:

Schreiber, M., Gurwitch, R., & Wong, M. (2006). Listen, Protect, Connect – Model & Teach: Psychological First Aid (PFA) for Students and Teachers. Accessed November 7, 2012 at

Technology Resources (Training and Tools):

  • Designing Accessible Online Course Materials - How accessible is your online or hybrid course to all students? Federal and state regulations have impressed upon us the increasing importance of accessible course design. This workshop will help you better understand what is meant by course accessibility and offer some tips on how you can begin to make your courses more accessible.
  • Ustream and Youtube - Ustream allows you to create channels to broadcast live via a webcam. An educational channel may then be used to broadcast live presentations to your students over the web to enhance teaching and learning in your online/hybrid courses. You may also publish Ustream footages on YouTube, and then share the videos with students.
  • Google Docs - Google Docs is a suite of products that allows you to create different types of documents, collaborate in real time with others and store them on the web for free. All you need is an internet connection and a Google account.
  • Using Google Sites to Create an ePortfolio - ePortfolio is a valuable learning assessment instrument which can be integrated into student learning to showcase their accomplishments and reflect on their educational or professional experiences. Google Sites can be utilized to create ePortfolios, which can not only assist you to assess student learning, but also help your students organize and reflect on their learning process.

For additional resources, please visit OIT's website at

October 2012 - Critical Reading, Writing and, Speaking Prompts 

Critical reading, writing, and speaking prompts can be designed to cultivate specific critical thinking skills. They can be used to develop supporting material that can be used in and out of class, alone or in combination, to help students expand, clarify, or modify ideas.

    The following six types of prompts can be used by educators to create reading guides (as reading questions or to focus class discussions) for students in their pre-class reading assignments:
    1. Identifying the problem or issue helps students create a “need to know” viewpoint.
    2. Making connections helps students think about course topics within the realm of their own experience.
    3. Interpreting the evidence can help students in reading case studies, viewing video clips, or reviewing information.
    4. Challenging assumptions helps students identify and critique seldom-tested assumptions, determine their source, and evaluate their validity based on information.
    5. Making applications helps students use what they have learned in practical ways.
    6. Taking a different point-of-view helps students consider diverse ideas.

Tomasek, T. (2009). Critical reading: Using reading prompts to promote active engagement with text. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(1), 127-132.

September 2012 - Welcoming Students to Class

    Legg and Wilson (2009) report that sending a welcoming email before the first class:
    1. Increases positive attitudes towards the instructor.
    2. Enhances positive perception of the class.
    3. Increases student motivation in class.
    4. Affects retention (students are less likely to withdraw from the class).

Legg, A.M. & Wilson, J.H. (2009). E-mail from professor enhances student motivation and attitudes. Teaching of Psychology, 36(3), 205-211. doi:10.1080/00986280902960034

This is a communication strategy to use to establish a connection with your students before class begins. To read more, visit:

These are just some strategies to encourage students to think critically. For more literature on teaching and learning please consult the Research Academy's library or contact our office.

Tell us what practices work in your classroom! Submit your own tips at