Teaching Checklist

The following are examples of ways you can improve the teaching quality of your course. There are many other ways to do this, some of which may be more appropriate to your course or content. Contact the e-Learning Center for more information. You may also be interested in our Technical Quality Checklist.

We envision this as a starting point, as more examples become apparent the list will expand.

Principle 1: Encourage contact between students and faculty.

1.1 Tell students how and when to communicate with you.

1.1.1 Provide accurate and appropriate instructor contact information.

1.1.2 Indicate which types of communication should take place over which channels.

1.2 Personalize communication with students.

1.2.1 Include a picture of yourself along with brief biographical information.

1.2.2 In learning objectives and assignment instructions, address students as "you" rather than "the student."

1.3 Create a welcoming, safe online environment.

1.3.1.1 & 1.3.1.2 Make your course hospitable for people of different genders, cultural backgrounds, and learning styles.

1.3.2 Post policies describing appropriate and inappropriate types of course communication.

1.4 Use online course features to encourage communication.

1.4.1 Use asynchronous tools such as discussion boards and email.

1.4.2 If feasible for your students, use real-time features such as chat rooms, whiteboards, and Elluminate.

Principle 2: Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students.

2.1 Facilitate student interaction.

2.1.1 At the beginning of the course, include an introduction activity that helps students get to know each other and gives students practice in using online tools such as discussions, email, and attachments.

2.1.2 Organize your course material in a way that invites student interaction with the content, with other students, and with the instructor.

2.2 Encourage group collaboration.

2.2.1 Create teams of students to interact, collaborate on projects, and solve problems.

2.2.2 Instruct students in how to work as a team, explaining group members' roles, and establishing guidelines for group interaction.

2.2.3.1 & 2.2.3.2 Post students' completed papers and assignments for collaborative review so that students gain experience in responding constructively to others' work.

Principle 3: Encourage active learning.

3.1 Provide opportunities for students to discuss and interact with the course material.

3.1.1 Craft guiding questions about the subject matter, and then give students assignments to discuss the questions, propose answers, and defend the answers.

3.1.2 Assign students to present work to the class in a variety of ways, such as discussion board postings, chat, presentations, podcasts, or multimedia projects.

3.2 Provide content that enables critical analysis and reflection.

3.2.1 Give students opportunities to record their observations and to do self assessments.

3.2.2.1 & 3.2.2.2 Help students set challenging goals for their own learning.

3.3 Use concrete, real-world data, examples, case studies, or situations in assignments.

3.3.1 Give assignments that provide students ample opportunity to practice and apply concepts and skills in realistic and relevant ways.

3.3.2 Explain to students how the course readings, activities, assignments, and assessments will help them apply their learning.

Principle 4: Give students prompt feedback.

4.1 Set communication expectations in writing.

4.1.1 Tell students how quickly and how frequently you will respond to email and discussion postings and when you will post grades for assignments and exams.

4.1.2 Provide regular guidance and encouragement to the class.

4.2 Provide explicit grading criteria for each assignment and apply the criteria consistently when grading.

4.2.1 Provide annotated examples of successfully completed assignments, explaining why they were successful.

4.2.2 Prepare classroom exercises and problems that give students immediate feedback on performance (for example, self tests).

4.3 Use assignments, quizzes, and tests for feedback.

4.3.1 Give students detailed feedback on performance early in the term.

4.3.2 Provide feedback that is both informational and evaluative.

4.3.3 Give students frequent comments and support via email, chat, and discussion postings.

Principle 5: Emphasize time on task.

5.1 Organize the course so that students and instructors use their time efficiently and effectively while focusing on the learning objectives.

5.1.1 Establish clear goals and deadlines, and communicate these to students explicitly.

5.1.2 At the beginning of the course, tell students how much time you expect them to spend on course activities, including assignments, studying, and preparing for and participating in class.

5.2 Use online tools effectively.

5.2.1 Include a list or calendar that shows all course milestones and deadlines in a single place so that students don't have to hunt for the information.

5.2.2 Make the first few reading assignments available online to allow students time to get the textbook.

Principle 6: Communicate high expectations.

6.1 Provide clear and detailed written expectations.

6.1.1 Using clear, straightforward language, write your course objectives and intended learning outcomes, including them in the syllabus and in each learning module.

6.1.2 Rather than stating the minimum level of acceptable participation from students, describe and model ideal participation.

6.2 Make sure that content and assignments are challenging.

6.2.1 Make content and requirements as demanding as those in a corresponding face-to-face course.

6.2.2 Write detailed, accurate instructions for assignments, and include examples of the types of finished assignments that you expect from students.

Principle 7: Respect students' diverse talents and ways of learning.

7.1 Provide avenues for students to ask for and receive assistance in understanding course materials.

7.1.1 Encourage students to ask questions when they don't understand.

7.1.2 Provide extra material or exercises for students who lack essential background, knowledge, or skills.

7.2 Use a variety of techniques for presenting course material and content.

7.2.1 Make content available to students in manageable, easily navigated segments.

7.2.2 Present course materials in a variety of media, not just text, and make the media accessible to all students, including those who have disabilities.

7.2.3 Vary the types of interaction between students and the course material, students and the instructor, and among students.