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How do you map out a course, assignment or activity? Learning objectives -- are those for them or you? How do you build a course that's challenging, exciting, focused, but also manageable for you as an instructor?

What is it?

Backward design is a way of designing lesson plans, courses or curricula that assures that learning activities are aligned with objectives. It is called backward (or sometimes integrated) design because it works backwards from learning goals through learning objectives and outcomes to lesson plans or learning activities. In actuality, the process is typically circular—after the lessons or courses are delivered, the instructor assesses how well the learning goals were achieved and then makes modifications to the goals and/or learning activities. Then the cycle repeats.

Why should you do it?

Backward design is a powerful and effective tool for helping you design your courses in ways that ensure significant coherence and positive learning outcomes. Starting with the end learning goals in mind and working backward forces you to construct appropriate assessment strategies before you plan a clear pathway for students to reach each goal. Since assessment is built into the process, it can also provide opportunities to evaluate what is working well and why.


Please follow this link for a description of the Process, Applications and Examples, and more information, including Resources for Tips and Tricks, Short Readings, Video Resources, Tutorials, and Seminal Texts.


What is it?

"Community-based learning refers to a wide variety of instructional methods and programs that educators use to connect what is being taught in schools to their surrounding communities" (Great Schools Partnership, 2014, para. 1). Learning is enhanced through meaningful engagement and reflection that requires students to draw connections between course concepts and their work with a community.

Why should you do it?

Community-based learning is a hallmark of Jesuit education. It embeds learning and learning outcomes in an experiential, service context through real-world partnerships and challenges.

How do you do it?


1. Prepare

  • Integrate community engagement components in your learning outcomes.

2. Engage

  • Ask students to complete regular reflections (e.g., written, video). Provide prompts that focus on connections between learning outcomes and community engagement.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

The following colleagues use real world problems and community-engagement to create authentic learning experiences for their students.

Patti Simone, Psychology
Shoba Krishnan, Electrical Engineering
Boo Riley, Religious Studies
Silvia Figueira, Computer Engineering
Renee Billingslea, Studio Art
Chris Bacon, Environmental Studies and Sciences

Resources @ SCU

SCU Ignation Center for Jesuit Education 

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Great Schools Partnership. (2014, March 3). Community-Based Learning. The Glossary of Education Reform

  • Outlines four approaches to community-based learning: instructional connections, community integration, community participation, and citizen action.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Carter, M.; Rivero, E.; Cadge, W. & Curran, S. (2002, April). Designing Your Community-Based Learning Project: Five Questions to Ask about Your Pedagogical and Participatory Goals. Teaching Sociology, 30(2), 158-173.

  • Identifies five core questions to help guide developing a community-based learning course: weight of project goals, nature of participation, number of community sites, level of difference in each student's participation, and extent of community interaction.

Institute for Sustainable Communities. (2001, November). Community-Based Approach to Education for Sustainability: Developing a New Generation of Leaders Through School-Based Programs Linked to Community Issues. Montpelier, VT: Partners in Education.

  • Describes community-based learning and provides examples of projects focused on sustainability. Includes handouts, curricula, lesson plans, case studies, and reference materials.

What is it?

Some instructors see the syllabus as a simple outline of the course topics, while others add everything related to the course as well as the kitchen sink. An effective syllabus lies somewhere in between. It should contain only the most important course-level information and link to other documents or resources related to broader topics—e.g., the program or campus—and narrower topics—e.g., detailed instructions for individual assignments or class activities.

Fundamental, course-level information can be broken down into a few categories:

  • The facts
    • Course information – WHAT are the basic course description, requirements and/or prerequisites? WHERE are the in-person class meetings and online work conducted?
    • Instructor information – WHO are the instructor(s) and teaching assistant(s)? HOW, WHERE and WHEN do they prefer to be contacted?
  • The goals
    • Learning outcomes – WHAT should students know and be able to do by the end of the class
    • Major assignments and exams – HOW will students show they have reached the learning outcomes?
  • The path
    • Teaching and learning methods – HOW will students engage in the learning process?
    • Materials – WHAT resources will students be required to acquire and/or use for the class?
    • Schedule – WHEN are the class meetings and assignment due dates?
    • Policies – WHAT are other support structures, expectations and guidelines for the class?

Why should you do it?

We know why we create syllabi—they are required! However, taking the time to develop an effective syllabus benefits you and the students. An effective syllabus can reduce the number of questions you get from students, though you will still find that some students do not read it carefully or retain the information. Regarding the potential benefits to students, Vicki Casella (2003) used three metaphors to describe a good syllabus—a roadmap, an organizational tool, and a contract.

How do you do it?


1. Prepare

  • Look at example syllabi, such as the Visually Enhanced Syllabi listed on the UDL-Universe syllabus webpage.
  • Use strong learning outcomes as the nucleus of your syllabus.
  • Create related documents separately, and link to them from your syllabus like a Wikipedia article.
  • Use an online tool, such as Google Sites or, or an infographic tool to create a visually interesting version of your syllabus.
  • Provide a digital version of your syllabus and embed or link to short videos, screencasts or other media types.

2. Engage

  • Rather than simply going over the syllabus in class, start by flipping a class activity related to the syllabus. Ask students to read through the syllabus in advance, or give them ten minutes to review it on the first day of class. Then engage them in a syllabus-related activity, such as a one-minute paper or jigsaw activity (see details for Jigsaw activity below).
  • Ask students to take a syllabus quiz to demonstrate they understand the expectations, how the course will run, etc.
  • Create an online discussion forum for questions about the syllabus and the class in general. Decide if you want students to earn points for answering syllabus questions or lose points for asking questions that are on the syllabus (e.g., "check the syllabus before asking").


  • Graphic representation of learning outcomes (in-class, online or both): On the whiteboard or on a computer with a projector create a concept map that shows the learning outcomes for your class, along with the different ways students will show they have reached them—i.e., related assessment strategies. This practice follows Universal Design for Learning principles of providing multiple pathways for students to succeed. To provide this concept map as a resource in your syllabus, you can use Microsoft SmartArt or concept mapping software to create the graphic representation of your learning outcomes (idea from Ayala & Christie, n.d.). NOTE: Linda Nilson (2007) also describes outcomes maps in in her book, The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course.
  • Jigsaw activity – Syllabus version (in-class, online, or both): To facilitate a jigsaw discussion activity about your syllabus, break the class into groups and assign responsibilities based on its different sections (e.g., become an expert on the facts, the goals, or the path). First, students work with peers who have the same responsibility to determine together what to share with their groups—e.g., what every student needs to know about that syllabus section. Then, students return to their groups and engage in discussions and/or take turns teaching their assigned material to the other students.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Elizabeth Day develops syllabi that present the hard questions the course will address, outline the course learning objectives for the students to help them address these questions, and describe the type of learning activities students will be expected to participate in to achieve the learning objectives. A copy of her syllabus can be found here.

Laura Chyu, Public Health
Marina Hsieh, Law

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Ayala, E. & Christie, B. (n.d.). Universal Design for Learning and Your Syllabus

  • Provides a rubric for evaluating your syllabus according to Universal Design for Learning principles.
  • Provides examples of a graphic organizer
  • Provides creative example rubrics that follow Universal Design principles.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Carnegie Mellon. (n.d.). Write the Syllabus

  • Provides details about and advice on writing a syllabus.

Casella, V. (2003). Syllabus

  • Outlines functions of the syllabus as a roadmap, an organizational tool, and a contract. Provides guidelines for syllabus construction.

Nilson, L.B. (2007). The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • Shows how to communicate course organization to students through a graphic syllabus.


Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

A flipped class—sometimes called an inverted class—reverses the traditional order of classroom learning activities. In a traditional class, students listen to a live, often passive lecture, then engage in active learning activities like homework after class. In a flipped class, students review relevant content before class, then engage in live activities with guidance from the teacher. The content may take the form of a recorded lecture, one or more , materials or a unit from an existing Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), a reading assignment, or other instructional materials.

You can flip your class at any level—an activity, one class meeting, several class meetings, or the entire class.

Why should you do it?

The flipped class format makes better use of students' time. In an online workshop about her experiences with flipping the classroom, Michelle Pacansky-Brock (n.d.) reported dramatic results: a) interaction in the classroom increased; b) students viewed learning as their goal, rather than completion of assignments; and c) her role as instructor changed from content presenter to learning environment designer and learning coach.

Done correctly, flipped class strategies can lead to greater learning gains. For example, Professor Khosrow Ghadiri at San Jose State University flipped an electrical engineering course (Murphy, 2013). He led three sections of the same class, during the same semester. 55 and 59 percent of the students earned a passing grade in the two traditional format sections, while 91 percent passed the flipped format section. These learning gains stem from higher levels of engagement around the material, as well as support and guidance right when students encounter learning obstacles.

How do you do it?


1. Prepare

  • Find or create materials for your students to review before class. If you want to avoid reinventing the wheel, you can search for existing materials for students to review: Open Educational Resources, pre-recorded screencasts (e.g., Khan Academy), MOOC modules, MERLOT learning objects, etc. If you have a unique approach to presenting specific content, you can use technology such as lecture capture, screencast, online presentations (e.g., VoiceThread), or video to record yourself.
  • Plan sufficient activities to engage students in deeper learning of the concepts they reviewed. This is often the hardest part for teachers who want to flip their class. If you are accustomed to lecturing, then you can start by flipping parts of a class meeting rather than the whole time period. Convert lectures into mini-lectures, and follow them with activities that cover just those few topics. Work with peers and faculty development staff to pick the best activities and engagement strategies.
  • Plan some assignments for students to encode what they learned further before moving to the next topic or concept.

2. Engage

  • Let students know what you are doing—flipping the classroom—and why—making better use of their time. You can model the process during an early in-class meeting by first coaching students on what they should look for; then reviewing a short piece of content together, such as a TED Talk related to your field; and finally engaging in small group discussions, case studies, problem solving, or some other class activity that leads students to reach a specific learning outcome.
  • If students do not review the materials in advance, then the activities will be less effective. You may want to ask students to complete online, low-stakes quizzes in advance or use some other strategy to encourage students to come to class prepared.
  • It is important to engage the students as if they had prepared, or they may get used to you filling in gaps for them.
  • Think-Pair-Share (in-class): Think - Students write a response to a question, problem, unsolved equation, or prompt. You may also ask them to enter a response using student response devices (clickers). Pair - Then students turn to a neighbor and discuss their responses. Share – solicit some of the pairs to give reports on what they decided together and/or ask students to enter new responses via clickers.
  • Jigsaw (in-class, online, or both): To facilitate a jigsaw discussion activity around content students reviewed before class, break the class into groups and assign roles (e.g., different stakeholder perspectives in the real-world scenario) or responsibilities (e.g., become an expert on one topic from the recorded content). First, students work with peers who have the same role or responsibility to determine together what to share with their groups—e.g., what perspective their role would have about the scenario or what information from the supporting materials pertains to solving a problem in the case. Then, students return to their groups and engage in discussions or debates based on your goals or student learning outcomes.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Maribeth Oscamou (Mathematics) uses Doceri on an iPad to create short video demonstrations that she then posts to YouTube for her students. Here is an example.

Tim Urdan (Psychology), Christelle Sabatier (Biology), Tracy Ruscetti (Biology), and Kieran Sullivan (Psychology) all deliver course content online and use class time for tried and true activities. Sabatier and Ruscetti have collaborated extensively to create a variety of flipping techniques in a large class setting.

Juan Montermoso, Marketing (Academic)
Theresa Conefrey, English
Drew Starbird, Dean, Leavey School of Business and Professor, OMIS

Other practitioners

Flipped Learning Network

  • Serves K-12 teachers primarily. Brings together a professional learning community for educators who want to flip their classrooms. Includes forums about flipping experiences.
Resources for Tips & Tricks

Gonzalez, J. (2014, March 24). Modifying the Flipped Classroom: The "In-Class" Version. Edutopia.

  • Provides tips on how to use flipped learning strategies within the classroom.

Wiley Learning Institute. (2014). Flipping the Classroom Infographic. Also available here.

  • Compares the most common flipped classroom practice to the traditional classroom format, provides student success data from a successful flipped class, and shares a few tips from José Bowen's book, Teaching Naked. Resource is downloadable after creating a free account.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Brame, C.J. (n.d.). Flipping the Classroom. Vanderbilt University – Center for Teaching

  • Outlines flipping the classroom.

Bruff, D. (2011, April 28). Mobile Learning and the Inverted Classroom

  • Provides several cases of flipping the classroom with helpful commentary.

Walsh, K. (2013, March 10). Gathering Evidence That Flipping the Classroom Can Enhance Learning Outcomes. EmergingEdTech.

  • Shares three cases that demonstrated improved student achievement after flipping the classroom.


Chickering, A. & Gamson, Z.F. (1987, March). Seven principles for good practice. AAHE Bulletin, 39, 3-7.

Murphy, K. (2013, April 11). At CSU, the beginning of the end for traditional lecture classes? San Jose Mercury News.

Pacansky-Brock, M. (n.d.). Flipping the Lecture Classroom: Making the Most of Student Time. [online workshop]

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Fostering creativity may sound pretty abstract, but it is not as hard to do as you might think. By itself, "creativity" refers to "the development of ideas, products, or solutions that are perceived both as (a) unique and novel and (b) relevant and useful" (Trautmann, 2010, para. 1). Iowa State University (n.d.) listed the most commonly cited elements of creativity as "motivation and self-awareness, flexible and original thinking, the tendency to take risks and ask questions, and the ability to imagine not just an alternative solution to a problem but a workable, achievable result." Fostering creativity, then, can be accomplished through individual activities that prompt students to generate new ideas or throughout an entire course that is grounded in a culture of innovative thinking and doing.

Why should you do it?

Higher order thinking categories at the top of the revised version of Bloom's taxonomy of learning outcomes now prioritize critical and creative thinking (also see Writing Stronger Learning Outcomes). Thinking creatively is a skill that employers seek and graduates need now more than ever. In a survey of 1,000 college-educated professionals, 86% said creativity is important in their career and 71% said creative thinking should be taught as a course (Daly, 2012). By fostering creativity in your class, you are preparing your students for the workforce. This is especially true for students who will graduate and pursue careers that do not even exist yet. Many students are not encouraged to be creative after they are young children, but it is a teachable skill that can be reinforced through practice.

How do you do it?


Kevin Parr (2014) outlined four easy ways to foster creativity—ask better questions, assign more projects, let students explore and struggle, and let students design their own assessments (see link to full details in Resources for Tips & Tricks, below).

  • Fostering creativity by drawing connections (in-class, online, or both): One definition of creativity involves "making connections between ideas where none previously existed" (Trautmann, 2010). Create two lists—one with course topics and the other with real-world elements (e.g., relevant industries, stakeholders, legal cases, etc.). Students or small groups must draw an item from each list and make as many connections between them as possible in a short period of time. The activity can be facilitated with two stacks of index cards, asking students to draw numbers from a hat (that match the numbered list items), or an online random number generator.
  • Creative writing to learn (in-class, online or both): Invent a creative writing prompt or select one from a list and modify it to fit current topics in your class (e.g., Creative Writing Exercises by Catherine Reid of Warren Wilson College). Writing to learn exercises are quick, so students can do this in class or as a discussion forum exercise.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Elizabeth Day, Liberal Studies
Katy Bruchmann, Psychology
Amy Eriksson, Communication
Katie Heintz, Communication
Sharmila Lodhia, Women's and Gender Studies
Claudia McIsaac, English
Leslie Gray, Environmental Studies and Sciences

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Clifford, M. (2012, November 26). 30 Things You Can Do To Promote Creativity. InformED.

  • Provides 30 practical tips for fostering creativity in classrooms.

Parr, K. (2014, May 29). Demystifying Creativity: Four Ways to Easily Foster Student Creativity. [blog post]ASCD In Service.

  • Outlines four easy ways to foster creativity—ask better questions, assign more projects, let students explore and struggle, and let students design their own assessments.

Sternberg, R.J. (2010, October 10). Teach Creativity, Not Memorization. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

  • Suggests 12 ways to encourage creativity in the classroom.
Resources for Deeper Learning

James, A. & Brookfield, S.D. (2014). Engaging Imagination: Helping Students Become Creative and Reflective Thinkers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • Offers research-based, classroom-tested approaches to cultivating creativity and innovation in the college setting.

MERLOT. (n.d.). Fostering Creativity.

  • Shares 5 different discipline-specific stories through one presentation

MERLOT. (n.d.). Nurturing Student Creativity with Video Projects.

  • Examines student-created video projects in several academic disciplines; such projects engage and challenge students with storyboarding, interviewing, collaborative problem-solving, recording, audio commentary, video-editing and documentary creation.

TED. (n.d.). Ken Robinson's TED Talks.

  • Shares 10- to 20-minute talks by creativity guru, Sir Ken Robinson.

Daly, J. (2012, November 19). Why Creativity Matters in Higher Education. [infographic]. EdTech Magazine.

Trautmann, M. (2010, November 16). Top 10 creativity definitions. [blog post].

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Gamification means introducing aspects of game play to non-game activities to increase participation. In learning situations, this means turning parts of your class into a game or using game elements in some other way to motivate your students. Game elements include, but are not limited to: competition, cooperation, challenges, feedback, resource acquisition, achievements, points, badges, leaderboards, quests, content unlocking, and levels (Blaylock, 2012; Bunchball, 2010).

Why should you do it?

One of the clearest reasons to gamify your class is to reach a large number of your students where they are. Jane McGonigal (2011) reported that "in the United States alone, there are 183 million active gamers" (i.e., those who play regularly, which she defined as thirteen hours per week or more). With almost 500 million more active gamers outside the U.S., the culture of gaming is widespread and growing. The Open University UK estimates 25% of Europeans play games every week, and lists learning from gaming as one way to innovate pedagogically.

Several research studies have looked at the learning benefits of gamification through the lenses of educational theories:

  • Shi et al. (2014) investigated game strategies to apply flow and self-determination theory to explain increased intrinsic motivation.
  • Paisley (2013) reviewed literature stating that goal setting theory may explain student motivation through gameplay aspects.
  • Banfield & Wilkerson (2013) investigated gamification to increase intrinsic motivation and student self-efficacy according to David Kolb's experiential learning theory.

How do you do it?


Just adding gamification elements does not instantly transform a course into an engaging experience. Shi et al. (2014) recommend contextual gamification strategies to "keep learners motivated in performing desirable learning behaviours and achieving learning goals." There are a number of ways to include game elements in your class, such as:

  • create structured and chunked learning goals with increasing challenges
  • give immediate feedback with guidance on the next step
  • provide experience points (see applications/examples below)
  • use leaderboards (team or individual) to create a visualization of learning progress or a progress bar to show percentage of achievement of a large goal (e.g., 60% of students have turned in assignment x)
  • provide badges to students who complete a learning task or set of learning tasks first, or the first to get all the possible points
  • allow students to give points to each other (gifting) for help in small group discussions, online forums (e.g., general questions about the class), etc.
  • turn class modules or units into quests
  • provide elements of choice (also see Universal Design for Learning) in learning assignments or other class components
  • Experience points via the point accrual grading system (in-class, online or both): Traditional classes use a grading system that follows a subtraction mentality. It requires students to get almost every point to succeed. If a student makes a mistake on a test or assignment, the points are subtracted and there is usually no way to get them somewhere else. The point accrual grading system follows an addition mentality. It provides more opportunities for students to earn experience points than they need to succeed—e.g., if 1,000 points is an A+, then there are enough opportunities to earn 2,000 points. If they do poorly on a quiz, then they can go do another activity in the module (or "quest") to earn more points. This provides students with more choice and makes it safe to fail in the learning process. Students should earn fewer points with easier tasks (e.g., short, automated quizzes) and more points with more challenging tasks (e.g., essays).
  • Game show quiz review (in-class): Jeopardy: Break the class into five or more teams and tell them to create one question for each of ten different categories. If you do not want to use class time for this, you can make this portion a homework assignment where each team uses a Google doc to share their questions. If you plan to use the whiteboard for the game, tell the teams they must turn in 10 index cards with the category at the top, the question and answer in the middle, and the source at the bottom. The cards must be clearly printed. Select the 5 best questions for each category, assign point values based on their difficulty, and organize them by category. If you use a Jeopardy PowerPoint template, ask students to share their Google docs with you, and you can copy and paste the best questions into the template.

For the in-class quiz review, you can use the same teams to capitalize on competition. Use the index cards or the PowerPoint template to run the game like the television version. Give each team the points earned by collaboratively answering a question correctly. Be sure to announce what the winning team will get in advance.

  • Immediate feedback (online): Most quiz tools—inside or outside a learning management system (LMS) like Canvas (SCU's Camino) —allow you to construct feedback for correct and incorrect responses. Include tips for where students can get the information they need to answer the question correctly—e.g. "Incorrect. Review textbook Chapter 6, pp. 34-36, to find what you need to answer this question correctly next time." In the quiz settings, allow students to attempt the quiz multiple times so they can use the feedback and a low-stakes assessment process as learning tools.

Want more information?

Resources for Tips & Tricks
Inside Higher Ed blog post on Mark Carnes’s "Minds on Fire: How Role Immersion Games Transform College”

Miller, A. (2011, October 17). Get Your Game On: How to Build Curriculum Units Using the Video Game Model. [blog post].

  • Shares ideas for types of quests you might create, and how to use "boss levels" (higher-level thinking activities).

TeachThought. (2014, January 6). 10 Specific Ideas to Gamify Your Classroom. [blog post].

  • Provides ten ideas on how to integrate game elements into your class.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Alvarez, M. (n.d.). Education Gamification Resources.

  • Lists links number of videos, TED Talks and other resources related to gamification. This K-12 author shares ideas for all education levels.

Bunchball. (2010). Gamification 101: An introduction to the use of game dynamics to influence behavior(white paper). Redwood City, CA: Author.

  • Aligns game mechanics with human desires and provides examples

NPR and KQED's Mind/Shift has a conversation with gaming and education expert James Paul Gee

Werbach, K. Gamification. [Massive Open Online Course].

  • Goes into depth about gamification itself with some practical information for implementation.
  • This MOOC is free to join.


Banfield, J. & Wilkerson, B. (2014). Increasing Student Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Efficacy Through Gamification Pedagogy. In proceedings of The Clute Institute International Academic Conference, Orlando, Florida, 1-4 January (pp. 50-58).

Blaylock, V. (2012, September 10). Gamification 4 – Game elements. [blog post].

McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New York: Penguin Books.

Paisley, V. (2013). Gamification of Tertiary Courses: An Exploratory Study of Learning and Engagement.. Paper presented at the 30th Ascilite Conference, Sydney, Australia, 1-4 December (pp. 671-675).

Shi, L., Cristea, A. I., Hadzidedic, S., Dervishalidovic, N. (2014) Contextual Gamification of Social Interaction – Towards Increasing Motivation in Social E-Learning. In proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Web-based Learning (ICWL2014), August 14-17, 2014, Tallinn, Estonia. Springer: Berlin Heidelberg.

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

You probably have heard the phrase "a picture is worth 1,000 words." Infographics, or information graphics, allow us to put this adage into action. They make it easy to communicate and comprehend data sets or complex concepts by representing that information in a visual format. While they are just one of many visualization strategies, infographics have become popular vehicles for numerous individuals and organizations to share information in interesting ways. Due to their vertical scrolling format, infographics can be reviewed on mobile devices as well.

Why should you do it?

One of the three core principles of Universal Design for Learning —multiple means of representation—tells instructors to provide several pathways for learners to consume information. Infographics are one way to do this. Creating an interesting visual can be a mnemonic aid for students to improve recall of important course material. Infographics also can act as graphic organizers, e.g., showing the relationships between concepts or depicting a complex process, which improve reading comprehension, critical thinking and more (Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education, 2003).

How do you do it?


1. Pull together data and information

Infographics contain text, graphics, data charts and more. Write a short "script" into which you can insert visuals. Remember that you are telling a story, so stay focused on what will help students achieve a specific learning outcome. It might help to create a quick storyboard, or sequence of rough sketches, before creating the infographic. You may already have an Excel spreadsheet with numeric data you want to display visually. Gather inspirational quotes for call-outs or sidebars.

2. Find or create an infographic

There are a lot of infographics out there, so you may want to start with an Internet search (e.g., bankruptcy + law + infographic). Be sure to vet anything you find. If it is not exactly what you want, you can turn that into a discussion—"What's missing?"—or use it as a springboard to make one yourself.

Use a PowerPoint template or web-based tool like Piktochart or (also see annotated links below) to create your own infographic. If you feel comfortable using Adobe Illustrator, then you will have more options and control over your final product. Support is available through the Training group (Teri Escobar & Marc Ramos).

3. Share and engage students

In a classroom setting, you can display the infographic using the projector. Use a one-minute paper or Think-Pair-Share activity (see below) to get students thinking critically. If you want students to review the infographic online, you can post the infographic in the learning management system, on your webpage or blog, or a social media page you create just for your class (e.g., Facebook or Pinterest). Create an assignment for your students to analyze the infographic.


  • Think-Pair-Share (in-class): Think - Students write a response to a prompt you provide regarding the infographic, such as "What are three points from this infographic that relate to the last reading assignment?" Pair - Then students turn to a neighbor and discuss their responses. Share – solicit some of the pairs to give reports on what they decided together.
  • Infographic assignment (in-class, online, or both): Ask students to create an infographic to demonstrate their understanding of a class concept, a reading assignment, or data set. Have them bring to class or post online to conduct a peer review activity. Turn it into a competition with bonus points for the highest rated student infographic. Use a rubric to show students what they are expected to include.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Sheehan, W. (1976). The Elements According to Relative Abundance. Ref Chemistry, 49(3), 17-18.

  • Infographic created by an SCU chemistry instructor to make it easy for students to visualize the relative abundance of the elements on the periodic table.

Satre-Meloy, A. (2014, January 2). Counting Down the 10 Best Moments in Solar in 2013 – Solar Infographic. [blog post].

  • Infographic created by an SCU senior in Jan 2014, who was studying political science and environmental studies and also worked in the SCU Office of Sustainability.

Satre-Meloy, A. (2014, May 9). It's Not Too Late to Fight Climate Change – Infographic. [blog post].

Administration and campus units

Dalai Lama visit to SCU

  • Includes an infographic showing the community's reactions to the Dalai Lama's activity at SCU

SCU President's Report

  • The SCU President's Report has contained infographics for the last four years or more 
  • See also a blog post describing the effective use of infographics in the 2011 SCU President's Report 
Resources for Tips & Tricks
Sites to find an infographic

Daily Infographic

  • Curates and shares an infographic every day. Categories include common academic disciplines or subject areas (e.g., health, government, marketing, music, politics), but searches can reveal topical infographics that make a specific point.
Tools to create an infographic


  • Provides 5 free PowerPoint templates to create your own infographics, along with tips to do it.

  • Allows you to import data (Excel or CSV files) to create 30 chart types and save as an infographic.


  • Provides over 100 themes and templates to make it easy to create your own infographic. Allows you to edit and share your work.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Learnnovation. (n.d.). Infographics and Learning.

Meyer, J. (n.d.). Infographic How To: Data, Design, Distribute. [Udemy course] 

  • Provides 16 recorded lectures and other resources about infographics in this free online course by Udemy.


Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education. (2003, July). Graphic Organizers: A Review of Scientifically Based Research. Charleston, WV: Author.

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What is it?

Internationalizing a course is a process through which instructors intentionally add or modify learning outcomes, course content, activities, or assessment strategies to support students' growth in one or more of the following areas: cross-cultural or intercultural competencies; global competencies, perspectives or citizenship; or social responsibility as local and global citizens.

Robin Helms (n.d.) from the American Council on Education outlined four levels of course internationalization, ranging from the simple use of international elements to complete course redesign:

  • Level 1: Introduce international or intercultural elements
  • Level 2: Create a course unit that is internationally or interculturally oriented
  • Level 3: Integrate international or intercultural elements throughout the course
  • Level 4: Redesign the entire course with an international or intercultural orientation

Why should you do it?

Every day, the world becomes smaller—via international travel or ideas shared globally via the Internet and television. It is incumbent upon us as instructors to prepare our students to analyze their place in a global context and engage with people from other cultures, both as they live here in an increasingly multicultural United States or as they visit other parts of the world. Internationalizing your course can increase student engagement.

How do you do it?


1. Prepare

  • Decide whether you plan to introduce just a few international or intercultural elements, redesign your whole course, or something in between. It does not have to be done all at once, but it is a good idea to know the scope of what you want to do and plan accordingly.
  • Identify aspects of your course that lend themselves to a global perspective. This really could be almost anything!
  • Write or rewrite learning outcomes to reflect international or intercultural competencies.

2. Engage students

  • Engagement: Pick a course concept and ask students to find real-world examples from around the world (e.g., How is this business/health/political/educational practice performed in other countries?). As individual assignments, in small group discussions, or as a class, compare and contrast the examples.
  • Assessment: Create or find a rubric to evaluate student self-assessment of their global competencies. Ask students to create a multimedia project based on their reflections on their own culture and what they would need to do to prepare to interact with other cultures.
  • Critical thinking through global perspectives (in-class, online, or both): It is important to remember that internationalization should include global perspectives—i.e., an article from CNN may be less representative of another culture's perspective than an article from a news agency from another part of the world, like Al Jazeera (funded by a ruling family in Qatar) or Xinhua in China (see list of international news agencies on Wikipedia). Create critical thinking exercises by asking students to identify possible biases in multiple sources (e.g., US-based and international sources) of information about the same topic. Some sources may need to be translated.
  • International guest speakers (in-class, online or both):
    • Identify potential guest speakers from other parts of the world. Start right on campus—visiting scholars and international students may be able to offer new perspectives on a topic from your class. The Fulbright Scholars program lists visiting scholars on its website, which allows you to filter your search by host institution location to find potential speakers near you (e.g., California). The site also lists the scholars' fields of study and countries where they teach. If you plan to invite someone to join your class virtually (e.g., via Skype or video-conferencing), then you can widen your search beyond those who are close to campus.
    • If someone agrees to speak to your class, share your learning outcomes so they can align their presentation or discussion. Ask them if they would agree to recording the presentation or discussion. Prepare your students ahead of time by providing a brief bio for the speaker and asking them to create questions in advance, based on the course learning outcomes as well.
    • Stay in touch with the speaker by sharing how the students used the information he/she provided for class projects. Create a summary of any online discussion forum that included the speaker. It is a good practice to provide some token of appreciation for the speaker.

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Ken Montojo, Political Science
Apara Nanda, English
Sharmila Lodhia, Women's and Gender Studies
Yujie Ge, Modern Languages and Literatures

Resources @ SCU

Global Engagement Office:

  • In support of Santa Clara's strategic commitment to fostering multicultural engagement and global understanding, the Global Engagement Office (GEO) provides leadership, coordination, strategic planning, and resources for the internationalization of the campus. In collaboration with other University departments and off-campus partners, the GEO operates programs and offers services that enhance intercultural education at Santa Clara University.
Resources for Tips & Tricks

Portland Community College. (n.d.). Guidelines on How to Internationalize Your Course.

  • Provides different approaches to internationalize a course, and includes videos and a rubric to guide the process.

University of Michigan. (n.d.). Internationalizing the Curriculum.

  • Learning Outcomes: Provides example learning outcomes to investigate global issues, develop critical and reflective perspectives on difference, acquire intercultural communication skills, build meaningful cross-cultural collaborations or develop enhanced social responsibility and civic participation.
  • Options for Internationalizing the Curriculum: Gives suggestions for how to embed international elements, expand course offerings, create deeper study abroad options, or establish international connections.

University of Waterloo. (n.d.). Strategies for course internationalization.

  • Offers suggestions for internationalizing courses via add-ons (low-effort), curricular infusion, or course transformation.
Resources for Deeper Learning

AAC&U. (n.d.). Global Learning.

  • Lists AAC&U initiatives and publications related to one of its core areas of emphasis, global learning. "AAC&U supports colleges and universities in their efforts to create settings that foster students' understanding of the intersection between their lives and global issues and their sense of responsibility as local and global citizens."

Helms, R.M. (n.d.). Internationalization in Action: December 2013. American Council on Education. 

  • Investigates internationalization statistics, outlines elements and the four levels of an internationalized course, and provides sample syllabi for internationalized courses.

University of Minnesota. (n.d.). Internationalizing by Design

  • Describes cultural influences on teaching, learning and course design and provides sample syllabi for internationalized courses.

Valencia College. (2013, May 31). Internationalizing the Curriculum: Creating Global Citizens Locally. [faculty resource guide].


Helms, R.M. (n.d.). Internationalization in Action: December 2013. American Council on Education. 

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What is it?

Learning modalities are the various ways of learning that faculty can take into account when designing learning experiences—whether they a single class meetings or entire courses. Laurillard (2013) has identified five main learning modalities:

  • Learning through Acquisition, where the learner is expected to encounter information and process it largely on their own (e.g., listening to a lecture, watching a video);
  • Learning through Practice, where students get to rehearse the conceptual, physical, or other skills and abilities that they are working to learn;
  • Learning through Inquiry, where students develop their questioning, critical thinking, and “learning to learn” skills through guided explorations and discovery of relevant resources;
  • Learning through Discussion, where students engage in the “reciprocal critique of ideas” (Laurillard, 2013) in order to improve their conceptual understanding; and
  • Learning through Collaboration, where students actively engage in the generation of a meaningful product (from a paper to a video to a website to a bridge) as a way to gain a shared understanding of a topic, subject, process, or phenomena.

A combination of these modalities usually yields better learning results than single-modality experiences that may not serve all students equally well.

Very few students learn how to learn, and they often can’t identify the reasons why they liked one type of learning activity over another. Even when students state that they dislike a particular type of work (e.g., collaborating with others on group projects), successful designs for learning experiences should allow students to meaningfully and fully engage in the variety of leaning activities expected of them.

Why should you do it?

It is simply impractical to try and figure out each student's “learning style” and then design lessons or classes that will address every one of those “styles.” [Some research articles that disprove the notion of learning styles include Freedmand and Stumpf (1980), Alaka (2001), Menaker and Coleman (2007), Kuhn (2008), and Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, and Bjork (2008)]. However, even intuitively we know that most learners do not want to experience a single way of learning for an extended period of time (e.g., a 55-minute lecture). Laurillard’s (2013) suggestion is to better understand how the five main learning modalities can and should be integrated into the designs of our classes. This resonates with the Universal Design for Learning principles that remind us to provide multiple pathways for students to review your course content, engage in learning activities, and show what they have learned. Further, by introducing students to the concept of learning modalities (e.g., “today you’ll hear me lecture for 15 minutes [acquisition] before you assemble into groups to review key concepts [discussion] for 10 minutes, and then practice on your own using the online simulation website in your handout” [practice]), you are promoting self-awareness and the ability to recognize how a variety of strategies may complement each other and improve learning (also see metacognition). Knowledge that there is more than one way to learn gives students more options when confronted by learning obstacles.

How do you do it?


Diana Laurillard and her team at the Institute of Education’s London Knowledge Lab have created a free (requires registration) web-based tool, Learning Designer ( to help teachers at all levels design learning experiences that explicitly link aims, learning goals, and the teaching-learning activities being planned. The tool incorporates the philosophy of Backward Design [LINK] by first focusing on the learning goals and objectives to be achieved. Once registered, you select the Designer tab and can start creating:

1. Fill the top portion of the page with relevant details such as the name for your design (e.g., “Photosynthesis”), the learning time, the number of students, the aims for the lesson/unit, and expected outcomes. Outcomes can be selected from a list linked to Bloom’s Taxonomy (Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation), affective learning outcomes (e.g., appreciate, show awareness of, be responsive to), psychomotor skills (e.g., draw, make, perform, etc.), or left uncategorized.

2. Add Teaching-Learning Activities (TLA) by clicking on the blue “+ Add TLA” button on the left.

3. Describe each component in the TLA in as detailed a level as you need. From the pop-up tab select which learning type (read/watch/listen; practice, investigate; discuss; collaborate) or activity (produce) you are describing. You can include more than one learning type in each TLA. Indicate the amount of time you plan to dedicate to each learning type/activity.

4. Create as many TLAs as you need to design your entire learning experience (lesson, unit, etc.)

5. If you need to, export your design to a Word file, or share it with a colleague for comments or editing.

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Pedro Hernández-Ramos (Education) has used the Learning Designer tool in his planning and encourages his MA students who are practicing teachers to use it for their course assignments.

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Learning Designer, — visit the Browser section to see a collection of published designs created with this tool.

Resources for Deeper Learning

Alaka, A. M. (2001). Learning styles: What difference do the differences make?  Charleston Law Review, 5, pp. 133-172.

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., Lovett, M. C., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works. Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco: Josssey-Bass.

Freedman, R. D. & Stumpf, S. A. (1980). Learning style theory: Less than meets the eye.  The Academy of Management Review, 5, 3, 445-467.

Kuhn, M. R. (2008). Learning styles.  In E. M. Anderman & L. Anderman, (Eds.) Psychology of classroom learning: An encyclopedia (pp. 575-78). Farmington Hills, MI:  Gale.

Menaker, E. S. & Coleman, S.L. (2007). Learning styles again: Where is empirical evidence?  Proceedings of the 2007 Inservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference.


Laurillard, D. (2013). Teaching as a design science. Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. London: Routledge. [Also available as an eBook from iTunes and Amazon.]

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What is it?

Metacognition means "beyond knowing," or "knowing about knowing." The term is often used to mean "learning about learning," and is broken into three parts—gaining knowledge about how you learn (awareness), taking actions to improve learning (regulation), and reflecting on or monitoring your learning activity (experience). A simple metacognitive learning cycle can be boiled down to the mantra, Plan-Do-Review. Instructors can provide opportunities and tools for students to gain awareness of their learning, share metacognitive strategies to improve learning, and encourage regular or constant attention to the learning experience through reflective assignments.

Why should you do it?

Most students enter higher education without learning how to learn. Metacognition is an integral factor in student success and lifelong learning in general. In addition to helping students improve their learning itself, it can also improve their attitudes about learning. With metacognitive strategies, it is also easier for students to take responsibility for their own learning rather than expect the instructors to do the work for them. More importantly, providing metacognitive support often helps students with a fixed mindset, or the belief that they cannot change their ability to learn, re-envision their learning abilities with a growth mindset, or the belief that with effort they can improve their learning. Dweck (2008, p. 2) cited numerous studies showing "interventions that change mindsets can boost achievement and reduce achievement discrepancies [for women and minorities]."

How do you do it?


To scaffold the process, you can begin a dialogue with your class(es) about how they can improve their learning, followed by modeling a strategy or tool for them. Then you can start assigning metacognitive work for them to complete in the context of your class. Many of these strategies are short and sweet; you do not have to devote entire class periods to neuroscience, educational psychology, and adult learning theory!

1. Help students gain awareness

  • Awareness that the ability to learn is not fixed– Ask students to answer a few brief questions about mindsets, using a Google form or the quiz tool in the learning management system. Then, assign reading a brief passage or reviewing a brief video about mindsets. Engage students in an in-class or online discussion about what they believed before and after. Make sure to let them know that it is okay to be skeptical, and that they will be conducting their own research on whether growth mindsets improve learning success.
  • Awareness of their learning in your class– Use a "think aloud" strategy to model and talk your students through your thinking as you solve a problem during lecture (e.g., analyzing dense text, balancing a chemistry equation). Follow your lecture with brief and simple formative assessment strategies, such as low-stakes online quizzes or Classroom Assessment Techniques like the One Minute Paper. This offers students an opportunity to see what they know and do not know.
  • Awareness of how they learn in general– Ask your students to complete a learning styles preferences survey and assign reflection activities related to their results. This will also allow you to provide suggestions about alternate ways to approach certain learning tasks in your class, if they run into trouble. See complete activity suggested below.

2. Share metacognitive strategies 

Common metacognitive strategies include the use of mnemonics, or meaningful words that are acronyms for a list or process to memorize (e.g., the fake name, "ROY G. BIV," contains the first letters of the colors of the rainbow), and graphic organizers like concept maps to outline complex ideas or processes. Inserting these into lectures models their use for students. Other strategies include students predicting outcomes before solving a problem, evaluating their own work, engaging in reflective self-assessment, asking themselves questions while they work, using directed thinking, discussing ideas with others and the teacher, critiquing others, and revising work after getting feedback (Darling-Hammond et al., n.d., pp. 163-164).

Once students have completed a learning styles preferences survey, you can encourage them to select new strategies for performing a specific task when they encounter learning obstacles. For example, students who have a strong preference for active learning might seek out or create in-person or online study groups so they can engage in questioning or discussions that are not possible in a large section of a class using lecture as the primary teaching method. Students with no real preference for visual or verbal learning might alternate between listening to lecture recordings (provided by you or recorded by the student) and reviewing the presentation slides and their handwritten notes.

3. Use reflective assignments for students to monitor their learning 

Find or create a handout with reflection prompts such as: Did I do as well as I expected when completing the learning task? What could I do differently next time? What was the most important thing I learned from this activity? Do I need to go through it again or seek outside resources to make sure there are no gaps in what I learned? How can I apply what I learned to other situations?


Increasing student awareness 

  • Awareness of learning preferences (in-class, online, or both) - Ask your students to complete a learning styles preferences survey, such as the four-dimensional Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire by Felder and Solomon (link below, Resources for Tips & Tricks). You can tell your students that the results may have the same merit as the results of a relationship quiz from Cosmopolitan magazine—i.e., the results are not meant to pigeonhole or define how someone learns; they are really meant to start an internal dialogue and create awareness that there are multiple pathways to approach learning tasks. A useful exercise is to ask students to write a reflection paper on how accurate they believe the survey results to be, using recollections of studying or learning strategies that worked for them over their entire history as learners. Have them write the same reflection at the end of the term, after they have been monitoring their learning regularly.

Asking students to use metacognitive strategies

  • Calibrated peer review (in-class, online, or both): You can create peer review assignments so students can critique others. Provide a rubric to direct what they look for in each others' work. If your students have not done peer review before, try a calibrated peer review activity, where the entire class evaluates a dummy assignment (e.g., one you write, or an anonymous paper from a previous term that you have permission to use as an example). Have everyone rate the dummy assignment as homework, using the rubric scales for all criteria and making comments as well. Then use the "think aloud" technique to go through the grading process in class or in a screencast recording for online students. Stop to discuss each rating you gave and ask students to state why they were more harsh or lenient than you were. Use a discussion forum to do this with online students. Agree as a class on what the ratings should be for the criteria. This will provide a greater degree of consistency in the ratings students get from their peers.

Using reflective assignments for students to monitor their learning

  • Learning journal (in-class, online, or both): Ask students to keep a learning journal of their Plan-Do-Review cycle over the term. First, they should create a brief plan before starting a learning task, such as completing a reading assignment, writing an essay, or solving physics problems. Provide some simple examples, like "My purpose for reading this chapter is ___. I will take notes or draw a concept map outlining the key elements. I will try to restate the ideas in my own words." Next, they should perform the learning task and think about what they are doing, taking notes if they wish. Last, they should write a quick report of what they did, noting how well it worked or did not work, why they think it worked or did not work, and what they would do differently next time.

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Stephen Carroll (English) uses metacognition to improve student awareness of their own learning process.

Andrea Pappas (Art and Art History) promotes student learning using metacognition.

Terri Griffith, Management Department Chair and Professor at the Leavey School of Business

Resources for Tips & Tricks

The Role of Metacognition in Learning from Carleton College's Science Education Resource Center provides a great starting point with numerous resources for a variety of class types and sizes, with a focus on teaching geoscience.

Angelo, T.A. & Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Shares at least 50 Classroom Assessment Techniques (formative assessment strategies)

Felder, R. & Solomon, B. Index of Learning Styles.

  • Contains links to a comprehensive learning style preferences survey—covering how students perceive, take in, organize, process and understand what they learn, descriptions of the learning styles that contain self-regulation suggestions for students, and more.

Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI).

  • Provides instrument for students to evaluate their use of reading strategies.

Video series – How to Get the Most out of Studying.

Resources for Deeper Learning

Darling-Hammond, L.; Austin, K.; Cheung, M. & Martin, D. (n.d.). Session 9: Thinking about Thinking: Metacognition. The Learning Classroom.

  • Comprehensive overview of metacognition and lists metacognitive strategies.

Dweck, C. (2013). The Effect of Praise on Mindsets. [YouTube video]

Kaufman, J. (2013). The first 20 hours – how to learn anything [YouTube video]. TEDxCSU.

Mokhtari, K. & Reichard, C.A. (2002). Assessing Students Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies.Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 249-259.

  • Article about MARSI, along with the instrument and how to score the results.

Dweck, C. (2008). Mindsets and Math/Science Achievement. (Report prepared for the Carnegie Corporation of New York & the Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education). The Opportunity Equation.

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Screencasting is a process used to create a narrated instructional video, simultaneously recording your voice and whatever you show on a computer screen or other device (e.g., giving a mini-lecture presentation, navigating a website, using a software application, writing on a tablet).  The final screencast can be uploaded to a learning management system, blog, or online video site (e.g., YouTube). There is a bewildering variety of technologies to create screencasts. Many of these tools enable embedding links, photos, videos and animations, and editing the final screencast video.  

Why should you do it?

When flipping the classroom, instructors typically prepare short videos of classroom lecture material. Whether they are used for flipping or not, one of the truly brilliant and under-appreciated benefits of developing screencast videos is that they force you to prepare the most important aspects of your lecture in advance, focus on the essentials, and deliver only the essentials with no digressions.  This can be excellent practice for later delivery in a live, classroom setting.

How do you do it?

General tips
  • Always practice your screencast beforehand.
  • Use a good stylus when writing on a tablet whiteboard.  A poor quality stylus will not capture your writing neatly.
  • Avoid writing on the tablet whiteboard as you speak; instead write out the slides beforehand, and when you record the lecture use the stylus to underline, draw arrows, and add parenthetical remarks.
  • Khan Academy (example): The Khan Academy offers screencasts in numerous disciplines, such as math and economics. The screencasts include a narrator's voice describing what he or she writes on a tablet, such as how to use bond-line structures (organic chemistry), or what he or she shows on a screen, such as how to look at paintings (art history). You can suggest Khan Academy screencasts to students who need additional help, or even assign them as homework before coming to class for active learning experiences.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!
Resources @ SCU

The software (e.g. Camtasia) and hardware tools for screen capture are available from SCU Media Services. Contact Michael Gilkison, Jeremy Kemp, or Brian Larkin.

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Anderson, P. (2010, November 7). How to Make an Educational Screencast (Mac). [YouTube video].

  • Demonstrates how to make a screencast via video.

Halpern, D. (n.d.). Five Steps to Creating Effective Screencasts. [blog post].

ProfHacker. (2009, October 1). Screencasting 101: The Definitive Guide. [blog post].

  • Provides an overview of screencasts, lists some screencast tools, and suggests a four-step process for creating your own screencasts.
Resources for Deeper Learning
Some Useful Tools for Creating Screencasts
  • Doceri: This is an iPad-based tool for creating screencasts and uploading them to YouTube.  Very easy to use, pretty powerful and flexible.  
    • Doceri website
    • Sample Doceri creation.  This was one of Michael Kevane's early efforts.  How would you improve the quality of the video?
    • Doceri limitations
      • Only available as an iPad app.  But you can easily upload your video to Youtube or send it to yourself, or link the iPad to a desktop computer to present a Doceri presentation.  
      • It is also a little difficult to edit once the presentation is recorded.
      • The way Doceri archives and saves is not immediately apparent.  So managing all your output may require some investment in learning Doceri file structures.  Here is a good introductory video.
  • Educreations: This is also an iPad-based tool.  It is a little less powerful and flexible than Doceri for creating lectures, but the great thing about Educreations is that there is already a large library of lectures that others have created and shared.  
  • Camtasia: This is a computer-based (PC or Mac) tool for creating screencasts, editing them, and posting them online.  It is the most powerful of these three webcasting tools with a lot of options and effects that can be added.  It also has the most comprehensive editing options.
    • Camtasia website
    • Sample Camtasia creation
    • Camtasia limitations:
      • The program costs money (about $100).  Because it has more features than the iPad-based programs, the learning curve is a little steeper, but it is quite simple to make simple screencasts with it.
Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

"In the process of scaffolding, the teacher helps the student master a task or concept that the student is initially unable to grasp independently" (Lipscomb, Swanson & West, 2012, para. 9). It usually starts with you, the instructor, modeling what you expect students to do, then moves to assigning students ownership of different parts of the learning process. Northern Illinois University (n.d., pp. 1-2) outlines the process as starting with the instructor, then doing it as an entire class, next breaking students into groups, and last asking students to work on their own. Scaffolding can be done for simple tasks or concepts; major, high-stakes assignments, assessments or projects; and everything in between.

Why should you do it?

Scaffolding prepares students to produce the level of work you expect in your class, especially in cases where you know (or suspect) that students are not ready. By modeling a process before asking students to do it themselves, you are also showing them new ways to approach problems. In addition to preparing them to work independently at higher levels of achievement, scaffolding is a gradual process of giving students responsibility for their own learning. Jamie McKenzie (1999) listed additional reasons for scaffolding: providing clear directions, clarifying purpose and expectations, keeping students on task, sharing good resources, reducing ambiguity, increasing efficiency, and creating momentum.

How do you do it?


1. Prepare

  • Follow Universal Design for Learning principles to provide multiple pathways for students to review materials, engage in learning, or demonstrate what they have learned.
  • Use visualization or graphic organizer strategies (e.g., concept maps, outlines, diagrams) to model how to organize thoughts about a task or concept.
  • Create examplars of each assignment for your class so students can see what they are expected to produce, or get permission to share an anonymized version of a prior student's work.
  • Create videos or screencasts that walk students through a set of steps to complete a learning task.

2. Engage

  • Provide support documents in advance, such as a rubric or a vocabulary list (see Scaffolding difficult readings, below).
  • Clearly relate new lessons to prior knowledge. After modeling this once or twice, you can make this a more active process with a Classroom Assessment Technique by Angelo & Cross (1993), such as a background knowledge probe or focused listing activity.
  • Create small groups that combine beginning and advanced learners in your class, so that the advanced learners can continue to model for the others after you have stopped modeling.
  • Consider student self-assessment strategies to help students find their own learning gaps.
  • Scaffolding difficult readings (in-class, online, or both): If your class requires students to read a number of difficult passages throughout the term, then scaffold the process. For the first difficult reading, provide a vocabulary list and a set of questions that help students see what is important to take away from the text. For future readings, introduce a collaborative document (e.g., Google doc) with vocabulary words without definitions and a few (but not all) questions related to the text (e.g., "How does the text connect to topics presented in class?" or "What are real-world examples of X?"). Ask students to post definitions, additional questions and even answers. Moderate the document by adding comments that show where students may be missing information or have posted an incorrect definition or answer. For the last phase, ask students to complete a reading journal that shows their personal vocabulary list, questions and answers.

Want more information?

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Resources for Tips & Tricks

Caruana, V. (2012, October 15). Scaffolding Student Learning: Tips for Getting Started. Faculty Focus.

  • Provides a brief overview of the concept of scaffolding, and a list of steps to scaffolding a major assignment.

Great Schools Partnership. (2014, February 3). Scaffolding. Glossary of Education Reform.

  • Provides a definition and a number of simple scaffolding strategies.
Resources for Deeper Learning

McKenzie, J. (1999, December). Scaffolding for Success. From Now On Journal, 9(4).

  • Provides an overview, rationale and examples of scaffolding at different levels of PreK-20 education.

Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers(2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lipscomb, L., Swanson, J., & West, A. (2004). Scaffolding. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.

McKenzie, J. (1999, December). Scaffolding for Success. From Now On Journal, 9(4).

Northern Illinois University. (n.d.). Instructional Scaffolding to Improve Learning. In Instructional Guide for University Faculty and Teaching Assistants.

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

According to a definition by the 1983 Brundtland Commission of the United Nations, sustainability means "Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (as cited by Oberlin College, 2014). Individuals or organizations must consider three dimensions—environmental, social and economic—when assessing or promoting sustainability (Oberlin College, 2014).

Faculty around the world are incorporating or integrating sustainability into courses or across entire higher education campuses. Using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) framework as a guide, many colleges and universities define the level of integration as either "sustainability-focused"—i.e., the entire course concentrates on sustainability or a sustainability challenge—or "sustainability-related"—i.e., the course incorporates one or more sustainability-focused activities, units, or modules.

Why should you do it?

Santa Clara University has committed to a more sustainable way of living. In addition to stewardship and service, that commitment extends to education:

  • "We seek to prepare our students by integrating sustainability into the goal of educating the whole person. We seek to support scholarship that advances our understanding and practice of sustainability."
  • "We recognize our role in educating the university community about the importance of both individual and institutional environmental responsibility."

Further, adding real-world context of sustainability practices and issues increases student motivation for learning.

How do you do it?


1. Prepare your course

  • Identify sustainability focus for a course activity, a course unit, or the entire course. Visit SCU's Center for Sustainability and consult with about how to address sustainability. To get you thinking in advance, Daniel Fusch (2011, para. 2) shared two suggestions from leaders in sustainability integration:
    • "Identify real-world issues related to sustainability in the local community, and invite a class to conduct research and make recommendations.
    • Identify opportunities on your campus, and pose questions in the classroom on how to move forward."
  • Add or modify learning outcomes to include sustainability

2. Engage the students

  • Let the students know that you have selected a sustainability focus for a specific activity, unit or the whole course.
  • Via an online wiki or forum or classroom space, ask students to collectively share sustainability challenges or solutions that relate directly to a class topic. Ask the student to explain why they shared the article, advertisement, artifact, etc. and encourage the other students to ask questions.
  • Sustainable development debate (in-class, online or both): Select a sustainability theme that a) relates to some topic or aspect of your class or b) would help students achieve a learning outcome (e.g., critical thinking, writing). Assign students different roles related to the debate theme. For example, if the theme is sustainable consumption, then some students represent fishing or farming, business, consumers, environmentalists, etc. Ask them to research their positions in advance. Use part of a class period or an online discussion forum for students to compare their research and prepare their position. In class, ask students to reach the most sustainable solution or compromise through debate.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Leslie Gray, Environmental Studies and Sciences
Tonya Nilsson, Civil Engineering
Tim Healy, Electrical Engineering

Sustainability is one of the Core Pathways at Santa Clara University.

Resources @ SCU

Center for Sustainability: Not Linked

  • Provides information about integrating sustainability into courses, co-curricular activities, and research.
  • The SCU Center for Sustainability Faculty Toolkit (Not Linked) shares twenty ways to add a sustainability moment to your class.
  • The site also links to an SCU Library Guide on Sustainability (Not Linked) with lists of reference materials, books, videos, journals, databases and more.
  • John Farnsworth will help you think through how to integrate sustainability into your course.
Resources for Tips & Tricks

Fang, C.C (2013, January 9). Ten Ways to Integrate Sustainability into the Curriculum. [blog post]. Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

  • Offers ten concrete suggestions for incorporating sustainability in your course.
  • A related page, Educating for Sustainability Course Materials, shares an extensive list of links to sustainability course materials, such as a carbon footprint calculator; course activities, such as an ecological footprinting journal assignment; or course design support, such as key competencies in sustainability.

UNESCO. (n.d.). Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future.

  • Provides resources that introduce global realities, sustainability themes that promote interdisciplinary emphasis, and teaching and learning strategies to employ.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Stewart, M. (2010, May). Transforming Higher Education: A Practical Plan for Integrating Sustainability Education into the Student Experience. Journal of Sustainability Education, 1.

  • Shares Sustainability Learning Outcomes, as well as suggestions for when to incorporate sustainability—e.g., green orientation, first year experience, etc.

University of Georgia – Office of Sustainability. (2013). Classroom Tools.

  • Provides links to sustainability literature and video resources, interactive sustainability tools, sustainability learning outcomes and other sustainability related websites.

Fusch, D. (2011, July 7). Integrating Sustainability into Curricular and Co-Curricular Programs. Academic Impressions.

Oberlin College – Office of Environmental Sustainability. (2014). Sustainability in the Curriculum.


Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

Santa Clara University provides suggestions for how you could communicate four important University matters that pertain to students in every class:

  • Academic Integrity
  • Office of Accessible Education (formerly Disabilities Resources)
  • Accommodations for Pregnant and Parenting Students
  • Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct (Title IX)

Course syllabi and course websites provide faculty members with ways to communicate course-specific information and selected University policies to students. For your convenience, the attached document provides sample language communicating important University matters relevant to every class. These statements are recommended, but not required, by the Provost’s Office, EEO and Title IX, and the Office of Accessible Education. (The attached language was updated in Fall 2019.)

Please refer to the sample syllabus statement (or the sample syllabus statement customized for law) as you prepare for your next quarter or semester.
Reminder about Attendance Policy and Religious Holidays
Faculty are strongly encouraged to include information about their attendance policies in the syllabus. As noted in the Undergraduate Bulletin, attendance policy is left to the discretion of the instructor, subject to accommodations required by law and by University policy. Among those situations requiring accommodation (e.g. absence without penalty and the opportunity to make up missed work or exams) is participation is significant religious holidays. Please be aware that two important Jewish holidays often fall during the first weeks of the quarter: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Wellness Statements

Our Jesuit tradition and identity invites us to remember that education involves teaching the whole person -- cura personalis. In that spirit, some faculty include wellness statements on their syllabi.  Associated Students have asked all faculty to consider including a wellness statement such as this one in their course information or addressing wellness concerns in other ways with students.

Suggestions for Classroom Engagement in Emergency Response Planning

This document, developed with our colleagues in Campus Safety and Emergency Management, is intended to help faculty and students prepare for emergencies such as fire, earthquakes, or other incidents that may occur while we are in class.  A version customized for the School of Law can be found here.


What is it?

Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, embraces one basic premise—"Teach every student." Its framework consists of three core principles—i.e., instructors should provide all students with multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement (Rose & Meyer, 2002). This means that, whenever possible, instructors should (a) provide instructional content or materials in multiple formats, (b) give learners multiple ways to demonstrate what they have learned, and (c) use multiple strategies to motivate learner participation.

Why should you do it?

UDL began with a focus on how computer technology could improve the learning experience for students with learning disabilities, including those disabilities that are not visible. For example, UDL practices like removing time limits on quizzes supports may help students with dyslexia, as well as military veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injury or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when they return to academic life. Keeping all this in mind, the "teach every student" mantra really means what it says. UDL practices support everyone, for example, captioned videos support not only learners who are deaf and hard of hearing, but also those who are English Language Learners or prefer to read text.

How do you do it?


It is important to note that you do not have to apply UDL to everything, nor all the time! Instead, use a mix of different strategies for sharing content, engaging students, and assessing learning. Even adding one more method every now and then will help.

  • Representation: Content in multiple formats

It does not take much effort to provide course materials in different formats, especially for your lectures. You can use lecture capture or screencast technologies to record your lectures in advance or while you give them in class. Then you can upload the slides (possibly with your notes), the combined recording, and an audio-only recording. If you don't have time to do it yourself, you can offer students small amounts of extra credit if they transcribe 5-minute chunks of the lecture. Then you can paste the text pieces together and post the document as a transcript. As mentioned above, UDL practices support everyone. Michelle Pacansky-Brock (2013) surveyed her students about how they consumed the course content. She found that 40 percent chose to read the lecture (transcript), 15 percent listened to the lecture (enhanced podcast), 30 percent did both (often at the same time), and 15 percent toggled between reading and listening throughout the semester.

  • Expression (Assessment): Multiple ways to demonstrate learning

When it comes to giving students different ways to show what they know, you have choices too. Often crafting a good rubric will be the key to providing flexibility in assessment. You can let students choose from several test questions that cover the same concept (see "multiple choices" in the example section below). For projects, you can let students pick from two or more submission formats—e.g., essay, presentation (in class or online using VoiceThread), video, or infographic. The students still have to meet the rubric criteria, regardless of what they turn in. Sometimes, providing different levels of challenge can scaffold the learning process as well as give students choices. Start with low-stakes quizzes, move to an in-class or online discussion or debate, and finish with a project that asks students to apply what they have learned.

  • Engagement: Multiple strategies to motivate participation

To keep students engaged over time, tie class concepts to current, real-world events or create in-class or online collaboration opportunities. To let students regulate their own learning (also see metacognition), create reflection assignments and self-assessment tools. Asking students to make their final versions public can increase their motivation to do their best work.

  • Mapping lecture concepts (in-class, online, or both): One way to provide lecture content in another format is to create a concept map showing the connections between the ideas or the flow of a process you outline. This can be done in real-time, by drawing the concept map in front of the students, as a screencast video recording, or just a concept map file that you upload for students to review.
  • "Multiple choices" essay exams (in-class, online, or both): No, that's not a typo! When you plan to have essay questions on an exam, let students choose from different questions that cover the same topic. First, identify each learning outcome or class concept for which students will show what they know through essay questions. Next, create a short rubric or checklist covering what student essays should contain for each topic. Start a new test page for each concept, containing two to four questions and instructions for students to select one question per page.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Andrea Pappas (Art and Art History) incorporates visual cues to help students learn and retain ideas.

Steve Fedder (Chemistry) uses images and graphics to demonstrate ideas and spark discussions to deepen student learning.

Sharmila Lodhia, Women's and Gender Studies
Katie Heintz, Communication

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Center for Applied Special Technology. (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author. 

  • Provides a quick overview of the three main UDL principles

MERLOT ELIXR Case Stories – Universal Design for Learning.

  • Collects stories from a number of instructors who tell how they incorporated UDL into their classes
Resources for Deeper Learning

Rose, D., and A. Meyer. 2002. Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning.Wakefield, MA: Center for Applied Special Technology.

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of UDL

UDL Universe: A Comprehensive Universal Design for Learning Faculty Development Guide.

  • Provides course redesign activities and strategies


Pacansky-Brock, M. (2013, October 4). Mainstreaming Academic Innovation with Emerging Technologies. [blog post for Teaching without Walls].

Rose, D., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning.Wakefield, MA: Center for Applied Special Technology.


Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Using videos and media in your lectures can range from something simple, like finding someone else's YouTube video and putting a link to it in your presentation, to something more complex, like creating your own screencast, lecture capture, video, or multimedia. You can jump out of your presentation to each video or media piece as you need it, link to or embed each one in your presentation slides, or combine these two strategies. In some cases, you may want to use videoconferencing tools to bring in a guest speaker.

Why should you do it?

Using media to supplement your lecture provides a number of benefits to you and your students. First, it can save you time. Instructors often feel that they have to create everything from scratch, but you can be a collage artist by vetting and using materials that it would take you a long time or a lot of money to make as well. In some cases, someone may have already said or done it really well, so there is no need to recreate it. We quote—and give credit to—other people who already have said what we want to say, how we want to say it. Using and citing someone else's video or media in your lecture is another way to do that. Next, it can give you an opportunity to practice and streamline explaining a complex process or how to solve a certain type of problem. Recording yourself in advance lets you work out the kinks without a student audience. Better yet, you get to reuse the recording for multiple sections or over multiple school terms. Last, it allows you to bring another environment into the classroom or online environment. Finding or creating a video or media piece is faster than going outside to observe something on campus, and definitely easier than taking a field trip to a surgery in progress, a nearby museum, a facility with an electron microscope, another country, and especially outer space.

Your students benefit as well. Using video or media for part of the lecture means you are applying the first Universal Design for Learning principle—multiple means of representation, or giving students multiple pathways to review content for your class. Just as the media allows you as the instructor to introduce new environments without leaving the classroom, it also makes it easier for students to visualize concepts that might be difficult to picture otherwise. Using a video, screencast recording or other media allows students to go back and review it again after the lecture has ended. This is especially helpful for English Language Learners. Using media also can increase student engagement, both in reviewing what you show and through questioning and discussion afterward.

How do you do it?


1. Plan
In some cases, you may have come across a great video or piece of media that you want to incorporate into your lecture. However, if you have not stumbled upon that perfect video or media yet, then fear not. You can find appropriate media fairly easily, or create your own in a reasonably short time span—usually less than fifteen minutes! Identify one or more parts of your lecture for which students would benefit from seeing a demonstration, a real-life scenario, an alternate environment, etc. Whenever possible, list which specific learning outcome the video or media will help students reach. Prepare your expectations for students—i.e., create a list of what they should get from reviewing the media. Also plan a discussion or activity around the media, so students are encouraged to pay attention and take notes. Make a note about how much time it will take to introduce the media (less than one minute), review the media together (length of video or time it takes to go through an infographic or image), and complete a brief activity (can be under five minutes).

2. Find or create
Do a quick search for videos and media. While you can use Google, it may be a longer process to review and vet each one. Sites like MERLOT, Khan Academy and other academically focused media collections may narrow your search, especially for discipline specific media. If you cannot find what you are looking for, there are a number of ways you might create your own media. If you are not up for recording yourself, you can try creating an infographic. Talk to the Media Services staff at SCU about how you can create a screencast, lecture capture, or even a video. If you create a script, it can be used as a transcript or captions to further improve the experience for all learners.

3. Review
Follow your plan for each piece of media you introduce. If you use more than one, you may want to facilitate just one in-class activity about all of them to save time. You can also use a flipped classroom strategy, and ask students to review the media and take notes in advance, so you can jump right into the activity when they arrive for the next class meeting. For online classes, you can link to the media in both your presentation as well as the instructions for the discussion forum where you will go through the activity with the students.

4. Evaluate
In some cases, you may want to get feedback from students about how effective they perceived the media to be in helping them learn a concept or skill. You can do this using an in-class activity similar to a Classroom Assessment Technique, an online discussion forum or anonymous Google form.

  • Focused Listing Activity (in-class, online, or both): This activity can take as few as five to seven minutes to complete during a class meeting. Ask students to take no more than two minutes to list five to seven points that the video or media demonstrates in relation to a specific topic. For example, "Based on the two videos we reviewed, list five to seven similarities between the American Revolution and the recent Arab Spring revolutionary demonstrations and protests." Then ask students to take only two minutes to find three items in common with a neighbor. Then ask students to take only one minute to turn to another neighbor and find one item in common from the shorter lists. Take a couple minutes to see what the final items were and ask how many people had each reported response. This will help you filter what students got from the exercise of reviewing the media. You can also ask students to share items from their lists that were not mentioned to find outliers. Last, you can ask how many students had items you would have put on your list, so they know what you thought was important.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Nina Tanti uses the numerous tools available from to create interactive presentations or activities that take advantage of media.

Amy Eriksson, Communication
Ben Lundgren, Philosophy
Sharmila Lodhia, Women's and Gender Studies
Katy Bruchmann, Psychology
Al Bruno, Marketing (Academic)
Sandy Piderit, Management (Academic)
Christina Ri, Communication
Katie Heintz, Communication

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Halpern, D. (). Five Steps to Creating Effective Screencasts.

  • Simple overview of how to create screencast videos, which are recordings of whatever you do on your computer screen along with your voice (e.g., narration, "think aloud" modeling technique).

Khan Academy 

MERLOT - Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching

  • MERLOT is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community.

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2012, November 14). How to Attribute Creative Commons Photos. [blog post containing infographic by Foter].

  • Comprehensive infographic showing how to cite Creative Commons images used in your presentations, along with valuable narrative by an educational technology professional.
Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Strong learning outcomes define learning expectations clearly and can be measured. Clearly defined expectations use action verbs, focus on what students will do, and define the required level of performance. You will know that the outcomes can be measured if students must use your assessment strategies to demonstrate achievement. Outcomes may also contain specific conditions (e.g., what is given or not given) and/or criteria (e.g., how well). Typically, a syllabus contains a small number—ten or fewer—of broad learning outcomes, which are supported by more specific learning outcomes for each module, unit or week.

Benjamin Bloom, along with a committee of educators and individuals who later completed unfinished portions, categorized learning outcomes in three "domains": cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (attitudes) (Bloom et al., 1956; Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1964; Simpson, 1966). During this process they created language around learning at different levels. Now, numerous resources provide guides to strengthen learning outcomes based on this classification system, often called Bloom's Taxonomy.

Note: Many higher education professionals use the terms "learning outcomes" and "learning objectives" interchangeably, while others reserve "learning outcomes" to mean what students will be able to do at the end of the course or program.

Why should you do it?

Morrison, Ross & Kemp (2001, p. 86) state that learning outcomes serve three functions:

  • They tell the students what is expected of them.
  • They guide you (the instructor) in designing and developing instructional activities.
  • They provide you with a framework for evaluating student performance.

If we change that order slightly, drafting clear learning outcomes is the first step in a course (re)design process called backward design — i.e., where you start with what students should be able to do (outcomes), then plan the best way for students to show what they know (assessment), and end with specific strategies to prepare students (learning activities). This process assures that everything is aligned, so it is imperative that your outcomes are well-conceived.

Strong learning outcomes form the nucleus of any learning experience, ranging from outcomes for a single class activity to departmental or program outcomes, all the way up through institutional student learning outcomes. With well-crafted outcomes, it makes it easier to align them at the program and institutional levels. When it is time for a program review, college accreditation review or campus accreditation review, this alignment along with assessment records help determine if your program, college or institution is preparing students to succeed.

How do you do it?


1. Review and revise outcomes, as necessary

  • As you review the outcomes, consider how many ways students will be asked to show that they have reached it. You may use the checklist listed below or a learning outcome rubric like the one from Penn State, or you may want to craft your own checklist or rubric.
  • When reviewing your outcomes, it is also a good idea to make sure you have one or more assessment strategies planned for students to demonstrate competency. If you follow the Universal Design for Learning principles, remember that they prescribe providing multiple pathways or options for demonstrating what they have learned. This is similar to the research practice of triangulation.

2. Engage the students

  • Let students know how the course-level outcomes prepare them for future classes and/or the workforce. Discuss what they will do and what it means to perform at different levels (e.g., low level: recall or state, mid level: use or apply, high level: synthesize or create).
  • Let the students know how the module, unit, or weekly outcomes support the broader, course-level outcomes.
  • Entertain the idea of having the students co-create at least one course learning outcome (see example activity below).
  • Learning outcome checklist: For each learning outcome, ask these questions:
    • Does the outcome use action verbs to state what you want students to be able to do?
    • Does the outcome represent the level of performance students will be asked to reach (e.g., low level: recall or state, mid level: use or apply, high level: synthesize or create).
    • Is the outcome measurable? If so, what assessment strategies will allow students to show they have reached it?
    • Is the outcome attainable within the conditions which students will work?
    • Does the outcome align with any program or institutional level outcomes?
  • Student-generated outcome(s) (in-class, online, or both): In the first class session, or as an online discussion forum activity before or directly after the first class session, ask students to list their own expectations of what they should be able to do when they complete the class. Provide clear ground rules—e.g., there is only one open slot for a student-generated learning outcome, or the class will select an outcome from the five most common expectations listed during the in-class or online discussion.
  • Graphic representation of learning outcomes (in-class, online or both): On the whiteboard or on a computer with a projector create a concept map that shows the learning outcomes for your class, along with the different ways students will show they have reached them—i.e., related assessment strategies. If you want to provide this as a resource, you can use Microsoft SmartArt or concept mapping software to create the graphic representation of your learning outcomes.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!
Resources for Tips & Tricks

IUPUI – Center for Teaching and Learning (2014, February). Tips for Writing Student Learning Outcomes.

Penn State. (2007). Rubric for Assessing Course Objectives.

UDL-Universe. UDL Syllabus Rubric and Graphic Representation of Student Learning Outcomes.

  • Provides examples of representing in a graphic format your learning outcomes along with how students will be asked to demonstrate achievement.
Resources for Deeper Learning

AAC&U. Essential Learning Outcomes.

  • Provides a framework for a robust set of learning outcomes related to knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, intellectual and practical skills (e.g., critical thinking, quantitative literacy), personal and social responsibilities, and integrative and applied learning.

Texas Tech University – Office of Planning and Assessment. (n.d.). Writing and Assessing Course-Level Student Learning Outcomes.

  • Provides a glossary, tips for writing effective outcomes, ideas for incorporating critical thinking into learning outcomes

University of Toronto. (n.d.). Developing Learning Outcomes: A Guide for Faculty.

  • Offers characteristics of good learning outcomes and provides example outcomes.


Bloom, B.S.; Engelhart, M.D.; Furst, E.J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Krathwohl, D. R.; Bloom, B. S.; Masia, B. B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook II: the affective domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Morrison, G.R.; Ross, S.M.; & Kemp, J.E. (2001). Designing Effective Instruction. (Third Edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Simpson, E.J. (1966). "The classification of educational objectives: Psychomotor domain". Illinois Journal of Home Economics 10 (4): 110–144.


Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.