The teacher effectively presents information, and checks for and responds to student understanding.

Tips for Effectively Presenting Information

Organize by chunking. Once you’ve determined your learning outcomes and assessments, you can think about how to plan your day-to-day instruction. It can be easy to unknowingly overload students with readings, videos, and other instructional content. Segment content into manageable sections or chunks for students to easily digest. The segmenting principle (Mayer, 2001) states that people learn best when content is segmented into small, user-controlled chunks rather than one, large continuous unit. As you develop weekly content or learning modules, build on previous content and progress through a logical sequence. 

Motivate students to learn. Several strategies can increase students’ curiosity and engagement with the course content:

  • Help students find personal meaning in the material through real-world problem-solving, personal reflection, applied learning, and/or career-based case study. 
  • Identify assignments that require curiosity, challenge, or mastery. Use the NILOA Assignment Library to explore assignments by discipline, level, or proficiency. 
  • Avoid “busy work,” and seek assignments that students will see as valuable. 
  • Give students as much control over their own education as possible (e.g., topics, projects, class structure, etc.). Find out more about building flexibility into your course. 

Consider your personal presentation planning and style. A great list of presentation tips is available through the University of Washington 

  • Be prepared and organized! Be thoroughly familiar with your material and speak from brief notes. 
  • Talk to your audience in a conversational manner 
  • Be prepared for equipment malfunction. 
  • Anticipate and encourage questions, Plan for audience involvement 
  • Focus on your ideas, not your nervousness 
  • Smile! Your enthusiasm is contagious 
  • Consider universal design principles in your presentation 

Check for Student Understanding

While course evaluations can be a useful tool to capture a summative overview of a student’s learning and experience in a course, they do little to provide feedback on how to improve a course that is in progress. We recommend engaging in formative, low low-stakes assessment that gives students a voice and provides you (as an instructor) information on how to improve and/or continue your support of students in your course. You can do this a few weeks into the semester and again at the midpoint. 

  • Use Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). For more information about CATs, visit Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching
  • Ask students questions (best if written anonymously or via technology). For example, what helps/hinders your learning, suggestions you have for me to improve learning, what do you like most/least about this course so far, what should we start/stop/keep doing, advice to help your instructor improve learning

Note: These techniques are only effective if you respond and adapt to student feedback! You just might find that your students have great suggestions for making your teaching more effective. Book a consult with ITL to interpret your data!