Best Practices in Teaching

The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT/ELIXR) project promotes, develops and inspires teamwork between faculty across the globe, as well as faculty development centers and online resource repositories. With its unique collection of pedagogical resources, MERLOT/ELIXR provides a treasury of best teaching practices, inspiring all faculty with creative and innovative case stories illustrating a variety of pedagogical techniques. SF State, through the efforts of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development, is proud to be an affiliated institution with MERLOT/ELIXR.

The Center for Teaching and Faculty Development has worked with the MERLOT/ELIXR project for several years, securing grant funding for faculty who wish to implement best teaching practices and Universal Design for Learning techniques for their classes.

Under the guidance of Associate Director Jeannie Cheng, SF State faculty have developed video case stories that exemplify the creative pedagogy and passion for teaching that exemplify SF State.

Best Practices in Teaching

...And Captions For All

Integrating Online Multimedia

Screen shot for Weimin Zhang's case story
Weimin Zhang, Cinema

Weimin Zhang is an Assistant Professor in Cinema who teaches a hands-on course on Cinematography and Lighting. In order to address the need for multiple learning styles in course materials, as well as the desire for 24/7 course content accessibility, both inside and outside the classroom, Zhang compiled a website with multimedia examples, lecture notes, manuals, and PowerPoint presentations.
Students can use the website to refresh their knowledge before a quiz or test, or anytime or anywhere they?d like. The combination of written, visual and verbal materials embraces diverse learning styles, and because the information is so widely accessible outside the physical confines of the classroom, the website not only helps her current students, but students throughout the Cinema Department.


Just-in-Time Teaching

Screen Shot for Karen Grove's Case Story
Karen Grove, Geosciences

Professor Karen Grove of SF State's Geosciences Department is a proponent and practitioner of an inventive pedagogy called "Just-In-Time" Teaching (JiTT).

Karen presents material relating to the day's topic, which students explore "just in time" for the class, thus arriving for the session more prepared, more interested and more engaged. JiTT is a teaching method that stimulates active and collaborative learning both inside and outside the classroom, and allows instructors to gauge student understanding of the specific material before the class actually begins.


Think-Aloud to Teach Problem Solving

Nelson Graff, explaining the "Think Aloud" strategy
Nelson Graff, English

Nelson Graff, Assistant Professor of English, employs the ?Think Aloud? strategy to help his students understand both the substance of their reading assignments and the deliberate construction of the text itself. A multi-faceted and dynamic approach to developing students? analytical skills, ?Think Aloud? is not only useful to language literacy, but a valuable tool for problem-solving and critical thinking within every discipline.

By using the ?Think Aloud? strategy?which entails a vocalization of the readers? thought process and analysis of the text as they read it?students develop declarative knowledge (the what), procedural knowledge (the how) and conditional knowledge (the why). Nelson further defines the learning outcome for the class by focusing their attention on specific elements of the text, thus refining the problem they are attempting to solve.

Students work in pairs or small groups, so that they can experience diversely modeled ?Think Alouds? and learn from each other, further widening their perspectives and enhancing their ability to question and examine the narrative or problem.


Engage Students Through Assignments

Screen Shot for Colin Johnson's Case Story
Colin Johnson, Hospitality and Tourism

Colin Johnson, Associate Professor of the Hospitality and Tourism Department at SF State, explains how he uses various methods of student engagement to capture his classes' attention, and involve and interest them in the cultures of other countries.

Colin's course focuses on food and wine, and he encourages both creativity and curiosity in his students by asking them to choose a country or industry-specific business (like a winery) to research and present--or to create a menu, in order to develop their food/wine pairing skills. Multimedia--as well as multiple senses--play a role in Colin's class as well: he encourages debate and engagement with the use of videos, PowerPoint and guest lectures from professionals in the food and wine industries.


Engage Students Through Play

Screen Shot for Erik Rosegard's Case Story
Erik RosegardRecreation, Parks, and Tourism

Associate Professor Erik Rosegard of the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department at SF State focuses on student engagement as a core principle underlying his pedagogy.

His research in brain development, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and Universal Design for Learning have led him to develop a style of engagement that is playful--fun, enjoyable, and socially relevant for the students, yet that connects back to course content and addresses multiple learning styles. Erik utilizes a combination of techniques--including storytelling, interactive PowerPoint exercises and social and physical interaction among the students to maintain a high energy and engagement level in the class.


Engage Students Through Productions

Screen Shot for Jen Vaughn's Case Story
Jen Vaughn, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts

Lecturer Jen Vaughn of the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department keeps her students engaged both inside and outside the classroom.

With group projects, guest lecturers, and informative demonstrations, her class stays focused and energized. Through the creative assignment of producing their own video, she encourages ingenuity and teamwork, while simultaneously providing her students with the hands-on skills they'll need for their professional careers. Jen and her students were the film and production team that worked with CTFD to produce these ELIXR case stories.


Engage Students with Simulation

Screen Shot for Luanne Livermore's Case Story
Luanne Livermore, School of Nursing

Luanne Livermore is a RN, BSN and Lecturer in SF State's School of Nursing as well as the Simulation Lab Instructor, and as such, devises interactive scenarios based on real-world situations with which to engage the students.

The Simulation Lab scenarios enable her students to process information as it happens, simulating both the event and the stress of decision-making. The scenarios encourage student preparation and post-event reflection, as well as bonding and identification among the class as a medical support team. Finally, the visual, tactile and auditory experience of simulation taps into multiple learning modalities, enhancing the engagement--and the learning--of her nursing students.


Sustained Peer Response for Active Engagement

Assistant Professor Tara Lockhart
Tara Lockhart, English

Tara Lockhart, Assistant Professor of English, teaches a wide variety of composition courses. In order to engage her students and underscore a sense of community in class, she utilizes various forms of peer response. From peer partnership to small group discussion to an online writing support group, her multi-faceted approach not only alleviates the isolationism of writing itself, but encourages reflective and reflexive analysis of both writing and reading among her students. Through the use of directed questions, a non-evaluative atmosphere, and assignments like "difficulty papers", Tara's students forge a community throughout the semester, engaged with the course and with their own learning and writing goals.


Multiple Delivery Methods of Course Content-Pause and Respond, Small Group Activity

Screen Shot for Neil Lindeman's Case Story
Neil Lindeman, Technical and Professional Writing

Neil Lindeman, Assistant Professor of Technical and Professional Writing at SF State, employs multiple delivery methods and engagement methods in order to help his students learn more effectively and make the teaching experience even more rewarding.

Neil structures his course around the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), offering a variety of information delivery methods, engagement techniques, and outlets for student expression. From small group work to pause-and-respond exercises, the UDL approach to teaching helps Neil make learning happen.


Multiple Means of Representation

Photo of Hsaio-Yun Chu from the Elixr video
Hsaio-Yun Chu, Design and Industry

As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Design and Industry, Hsaio-Yun Chu is very familiar with the architectural and design concepts of Universal Design and how they relate to Universal Design for Learning (UDL). She implements UDL in her courses, which include the History of Design and Product Design. In the latter, she utilizes multiple means of representation in order to familiarize her students with the concept of "work hardening", a crucial point of understanding in the study of material properties. Dr. Chu?s use of UDL, and particularly her introduction of hands-on and concrete forms of representation, is a best practice that can be easily translated to other courses and disciplines.


UDL in Elementary Statistics

Screen Shot for David Bao's Case Story
David Bao, Mathematics

As Professor and Chair of the Mathematics Department at SF State, David Bao teaches a large general education course in elementary statistics. Given the size and nature of his class, the learning styles present are extremely diverse--a fact which led Dr. Bao to adopt principles of Universal Design for Learning to better reach his students.

Online homework assignments, Scantron forms designed to focus student engagement, and a specifically-designed course reader are a few of the UDL methods successfully employed by David, all of which increased student learning for his course.


Why Implement Universal Design for Learning?

Screen Shot for Paul Beckman's Case Story
Paul Beckman, Information Systems

Paul Beckman, Associate Professor in the Information Systems Department of the College of Business at SF State, undertook an experiment using Universal Design for Learning (UDL): would the application of UDL techniques result in an assessable learning difference for his students?

Neil implemented UDL techniques like guided notes, small group discussion, multimedia presentations and online resources for one class; the other he taught using a traditional lecture-delivered course content. The results convinced Paul that he should employ UDL methods for all of his classes.