Teaching methods

Teaching methods resources

General resources

The links below provide access to a wide range of external teaching and learning websites. Each link is briefly annotated with a description of topics found there.

Online journals

The links below provide access to academic journals that focus on teaching and learning. Each link is annotated with a description of the journal’s field of inquiry.

College teaching

All articles from this journal are accessible through EBSCOHost. A few issues are available in hard copy in the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Academic Excellence.

Journal on Excellence in College Teaching

The Journal provides a scholarly, written forum for discussion by faculty about all areas affecting teaching and learning, and gives faculty the opportunity to share proven, innovative pedagogies and thoughtful, inspirational insights about teaching.

Student support

The links below provide access to websites that support student learning. These sites are of interest to faculty who want to suggest learning strategies to their students. Each link is annotated with a brief description of its contents.

College learners and learning

Teaching across generations

Millennials, the newest generation of learners, present with unique characteristics.

Every generation is shaped and defined by their experiences and differences in beliefs, attitudes and sensitivities. This results in varying expectations, values and methods of interacting with others.

Faculty are usually one or more generations removed from present learners. Better understanding millennials as learners assists in reflecting on teaching practices and the planning of strategies to effectively meet our collective teaching and learning needs.


If we consider the old adage “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach him to fish, he eats every day”, we could describe millennials as wanting ‘prepared seafood to go’. They may pause for some microwave instructions, but have no interest in how to catch, clean or cook a fish.

Our challenge is to facilitate learning by providing fishing rods so that the student can “fish” long after they leave the college. Our challenge is to capture interest in the process versus the product (of getting their diploma/degree).

Books available in the CTLAE – generations

  • Howe, N., & Strauss, W. Millennials Rising: The Next Greatest Generation. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.
  • Lieberman, D. (2002). The Millennial Learner: Challenges and Opportunities in to Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional and Organizational Development. Pod Network, 20.
  • Oblinger, D., & Oblinger, J. (2006). Educating the Net Generation. Educause. Available at: http://www.educause.edu/educatingthenetgen (Also available in CTLAE).

External web resources – generations

Motivation and engagement

CTLAE workshop resources – engagement

Factors that Impact Student Engagement: A Mind Map: This file maps out the complexity of student engagement and many of the aspects that impact engagement. It provides a big picture view of this dimension of learning. Faculty are encouraged to focus on aspects within their sphere of influence.

Complexity of Teaching: A Mind Map: This file maps out the many aspects that influence teaching and learning. When we encounter challenges as educators, it’s important to consider all the factors that may be at play and to plan actions thoughtfully.

Uncovering Clues to Student Engagement: This document contains ideas that were generated by faculty participants during a workshop, which was facilitated by Ruthanne Krant in May and August 2007. Possible actions are listed under the five benchmarks from the National Study on Student Engagement:

  • Benchmark 1: Level of Academic Challenge
  • Benchmark 2: Active and Collaborative Learning
  • Benchmark 3: Student-Faculty Interaction
  • Benchmark 4: Enriching Educational Experiences
  • Benchmark 5: supportive Campus Environment

Engaging Students in Learning: This document lists ideas generated at a Teaching and Learning Open Forum. Ideas are organized under the following headings:

  • Encouraging Student Involvement
  • Motivating Students to Attend Class
  • Making Learning Enjoyable

Books available in the CTLAE – engagement

  • Davis, B.G. (2001). Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (This book has a section on enhancing students’ learning and motivation).
  • Ginsberg, M.B. & Wlodkowski, R.J. (2009). Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching in College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Provitera-McGlynn, A.P. (2001). Successful Beginnings for College Teaching: Engaging your Students from the First Day. Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
  • Svinicki, M. (2004). Learning and Motivation in the Postsecondary Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

External web resources – engagement

Active learning

Active learning can take many different forms and can occur individually, in pairs, in small groups, and in large groups. The more strategies you have in your “toolkit”, the easier it will be to incorporate active learning into your teaching. We encourage faculty to start small and plan maybe one active learning task for an hour lesson. As your experience and confidence builds, you can plan more and more of your instruction this way.

Interactive lecturing

Lecturing is often seen as a one-way transmission of information from teacher to students. Interactive lectures include the concepts of active learning. Lecturing becomes a two-way street in which the teacher focuses on key elements and requires students to do something beyond passive reception (listening).

Books available in the CTLAE – active learning

  • Cross, K.P. (2003). Techniques for Promoting Active Learning – The Cross Papers No. 7. The League for Innovation in the Community Colleges.
  • Meyers, C., & Jones, T.B. (1993). Promoting Active Learning: Strategies for the College Classroom. Jossey-Bass.
  • Sutherland, T.E., & Bonwell, C.C. (1996). Using Active Learning in College Classes: A Range of Options for Faculty. New directions for teaching and learning No. 67. Jossey-Bass

Collaborative learning

Collaborative or cooperative learning refer to the process of students working together to achieve a particular learning goal. It encompasses a variety of learning activities that require students to work in pairs or small groups. This type of learning activity can only be successful if teachers take time for the following:

  • Designing a relevant and meaningful task that requires authentic collaboration
  • Articulating clear and meaningful learning objectives that are linked to course outcomes
  • Planning for individual as well as group accountability
  • Providing clear process instructions, and criteria for evaluating progress

Books available in the CTLAE – collaborative learning

  • Barkley, E.F., Cross, K.P., & Major, C.H. (2005). Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. Jossey-Bass.
  • Cross, K.P. (2000). Collaborative Learning 101. The Cross Papers – Number 4. League for Innovation in the Community College.
  • Johnson, D.W., & Johnson, R.T. (1991). Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive and Individualistic Learning. Allyn & Bacon.
  • Hargrove, R. (1998). Mastering the Art of Creative Collaboration. McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
  • Millis, B. (Ed.) (2000). The Journal of Cooperation and Collaboration in College Teaching. New Forums Press Inc.

External web resources – collaborative learning

  • Doing Collaborative LearningRetrieved October 4, 2006. This site, put together by the National Institute for Science Education, provides stories of how post-secondary teachers in a variety of disciplines are using collaborative learning strategies and offers lots of techniques (Doing CL) that can be easily implemented.
  • Active Learning for the College ClassroomRetrieved Oct. 4, 2006. This site offers a wide variety of active learning strategies and includes a section on cooperative learning strategies.
  • Teampedia – Collaborative Tools for TeamsRetrieved Sept. 23, 2010. This site – Teampedia, offers Tools for Teams including a free collaborative encyclopedia of team building activities, icebreakers, team work resources and editable team tools.

This section is currently under development.  For further information please contact Jill Dunlop at x 3427.

Experiential learning is when individuals engage in meaningful experiences that are processed, to discover, develop and/or enhance knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Community Service is defined as a service or activity voluntarily performed by a student, faculty member or community member that benefits the community (internal or external).

Community Service Learning integrates community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen community (10-12 hours, reciprocal relationship).

Online modules developed by Western University

Community Engaged Learn How Modules: Community engagement is defined as “the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” (2015 Carnegie Elective Community Engagement Classification)


Experiential Learning Central Modules: An online resource for developing innovative, hands-on learning opportunities for students from all disciplines. As a compliment to students’ classroom learning, experiential learning activities – such as internship, co-op, community engaged learning and job shadow, ask students to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world environments.


Useful websites for service-learning and community engagement

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse:  Search using the “Browse by” tabs.  Sorted by K-12, Higher Education etc.  Librarians will assist with searches, if needed.  Email discussion lists. Sign up on site.

Campus Compact:  See the resources tab in the left column.  Excellent resources on this site, include course syllabi.  Check out the bookstore for some highly recommended resources.

National Youth Leadership Council:  Great resources on this site.


Useful tools

CCPH–Community Campus Partnerships for Health: Wonderful resources on this site. Health is broadly defined. CCPH has some Canadian projects too. Email discussion lists—sign up on site.



CACSL—Canadian Alliance for Community Service-Learning:  National association. Option to join the email list on their home page. Great resources on this site, and a way to network nationally. Has samples of Canadian higher education syllabi on the site.

McConnell Family Foundation: This foundation funded 11 service-learning initiatives across Canada by implementing CSL awards. See resources on the site, especially “Getting to Wisdom” by Silver Donald Cameron, which is about some of the service-learning initiatives funded by McConnell.

Rewarding Community Engaged Scholarship: Co-led by the University of Guelph and CCPH. Resources will be uploaded to this site as this initiative unfolds.



IARSLCE—International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement:  Holds a research conference annually in October/November. The conference has published a great series of books, available at http://www.infoagepub.com/series/Advances-in-Service-Learning-Research. They are moving to a journal format from 2011.

CCPH has an annual conference, as does NYLC.  There are many other great service-learning conferences, and service-learning interest groups at discipline-based conferences.



Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning: Latest issue embargoed. Other issues available on-line.

Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement: Open source.



Great networking and research opportunities for your graduate students through the IARSLCE Graduate Students’ Network.  See http://www.researchslce.org/get-involved/graduate-student-network/  There’s also an “Early Career Network” –see their Facebook site.

Experiential learning

Problem-based learning

Books available in the CTL

  • Doyle, T. (2008). Helping Students Learn in a Learner-Centred Environment: A Guide to Facilitating Learning in Higher Education. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
  • Duch, B.J., Groh, S.E., & Allen, D.E. (Eds.). (2001). The Power of Problem-based Learning: A Practical “How-to” for Teaching Undergraduate Courses in any Discipline. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
  • Knowlton, D.S., & Sharp, D.C. (Eds.). (2003). Problem-based Learning in the Information Age. New Directions for Teaching and Learning No. 95. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Weimer, M. (2002). Learner-centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

External web resources

Although you need to create a login for this site, it is free and gives you access to hundreds of problems and resources related to problem-based learning. It is hosted at the University of Delaware and has problems from all disciplines.

This site has extensive resources to support the teaching and learning of business subjects. It has an extensive section on problem-based learning with several well-developed problems that can be used.

A webquest is a problem-based online lesson format that integrates resources from the web and research skills in the process of examining a problem. They have been used in K-12 for many years, but the format is easily applicable to undergraduate learning.

This school at the Carleton University has also done extensive work related to guided discovery learning and has an excellent website with sample problems as well as information on a variety of teaching and assessment methods.

Essential Employability Skills

Essential Employability Skills (EES) are skills needed in nearly every workplace at a variety of complexities and are essential to getting a job and staying in the workplace.  The Conference Board of Canada has identified several skills that employers feel are critical. These include:

  • Communicating;
  • Managing information;
  • Working with others;
  • Problem-solving; and,
  • Learning continuously.

The Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) requires programs to integrate EES knowledge and skills throughout all curriculum components. Program areas need to show how EES align with course goals, consider what is involved in facilitating EES learning and consider elements of design required to intentionally support student learning and development.

Essential Employability Skills Workshop Series

Learning how to support students in developing these skills is challenging. This Essential Employability Skills series moves teaching beyond content and examines how to teach these skills. Programs are expected to include essential employability skills in their curriculum, but what are they and how can you integrate EES with your subject specific content? This six-part series will examine:

  • How EES align with your course goals;
  • What is involved in facilitating EES learning; and,
  • Elements of design required to intentionally support student learning and development.

To see a full description, including a topic breakdown for each session, please visit the Essential Skills Workshop Series Description tab on the PD Sessions page of our website.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is an essential employability skill and something that needs to be intentionally taught in higher education classrooms (Conference Board of Canada). However, helping students learn these skills is not easy. Educators generally receive very little guidance on how they might best support the development of critical thinking skills. The Centre for Teaching, Learning and Academic Excellence has tried to develop resources to assist teachers with this aspect of instruction.

Critical thinking workshop resources

Critical Thinking: Essential Skills Booklet (V 3.0): This booklet was developed as a guide for postsecondary educators as they try to facilitate learning of critical thinking skills. It includes the following:

  • Definitions of critical thinking;
  • Critical thinking outcomes;
  • Principles and general instructional strategies for teaching critical thinking skills; and,
  • Rubrics and scaffolding resources for facilitating learning of various critical thinking skills.

Profiles of effective practice – critical thinking

These profiles examine how educators at Georgian are faciltiating learning effectively. The profiles listed below all discuss the facilitation of critical thinking from a variety of perspectives.

Articles available online – critical thinking

Books available in the CTLAE – critical thinking

  • Angelo, T.A. and Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Donald, J.G. (2002). Learning to think: Disciplinary perspectives. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Zull, J. E. (2002). The art of changing the brain: Enriching teaching by exploring the biology of learning. Stylus Publishing.

External web resources – critical thinking

Learning strategies

Many students behave like what my college mentor fondly referred to as “one trick ponies.” They have a strategy or two (trying to memorize everything being the most common strategy); and, if that strategy does not work or is inefficient, they have nothing else in their repertoire. If instructors teach students learning strategies that best fit the structure of course content, they are creating a win-win situation. Their preparation and delivery efforts are better rewarded because more students are able to learn the course material, which is the goal of teaching. The students wine because their learning becomes more efficient and effective, often resulting in greater academic success and a larger repertoire of learning strategies to use elsewhere.

Terry Doyle, Ferris State University

The “job” of being a postsecondary student requires skills. We often call these skills, study skills or learning skills, which are very encompassing terms. They cover basic academic skills such as:

  • Time management
  • Note-taking
  • Reading and reading comprehension
  • Studying and test taking

General learning strategies resources

  • Georgian College Learning Strategies Supports: The Learning Centre’s (LSC) goal is to promote student achievement and retention, develop independent lifelong learners, and support innovation in learning and teaching through the integration of learning strategy and peer tutoring services.
  • Avoiding Plagiarism: Stopping Plagiarism – 18 suggestions for diminishing plagiarism.
  • McMaster Academic Skills Centre:  This website has short videos on a variety of topics related to learning strategies.

Time management strategies

Most students find that their greatest challenge in adjusting to college or university life is in managing their time effectively. This is especially true for postsecondary students who often work long hours and mature students who deal with the additional issues of family and home responsibilities. Faculty members can support students in managing their time by:

  • Creating a syllabus that clearly outlines when tests, quizzes and assignments are due.
  • Taking time in class to break larger assignments down into smaller tasks.
  • Emphasizing process over product by having students submit stages of their work (i.e. and outline, bibliography, first draft etc).

Note-taking strategies

Note-taking is one of the most important skills for understanding and retaining material taught in class. It is also one of the least monitored student activities. Faculty can support students in improving their note-taking skills by modeling or providing the following:

  • Skeletal notes: Skeletal notes contain the lecture’s main ideas interspersed with spaces for note taking.
  • Lecture cues: Cues signaling important ideas can be written on the chalkboard, on transparencies, presented orally or posted on blackboard.
  • Note-taking Frameworks: Give students templates for different types of note-taking, such as outlines, visual organizers, and the Cornell Method.

Reading strategies

The ability to read effectively is critical to the success of a student in any subject area. Yet many students experience difficulty in mastering this skill. Engaging students in active reading practices can help them become more involved in their reading, hence aiding comprehension and retention.

  • experiment with the K-W-L (What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I’ve Learned) method in your classroom. Before reading, have students brainstorm everything they know about a topic. Then have them list questions they have about the topic (what they want to know). After reading, check what students have learned and see if they can answer the questions they generated, and have them identify new areas for exploration. This method could work for an entire class, small group, or as an individual exercise.
  • before they read have students compile a list of open-ended questions, controversial questions or statements to explore both before and after they read. Then have students answer the questions individually. If time permits consider engaging them in a brief discussion to examine how the reading affected their responses.
  • implement the use of graphic organizers for student reading. These tools can help students to visually organize what they are reading and extract the main ideas. Graphic organizers are especially useful after reading, as a reviewing tool.


Studying and test-taking strategies

Taking tests is an integral part of any postsecondary experience. For many faculty this is one of the primary methods of evaluating students. It is also a very difficult and stressful thing for many students. Below are a few strategies for test preparation.

  • Let students know what the format of the test is in advance, what topics will be covered and how they can prepare.
  • Ask students to identify what they believe will be hard for them to learn and brainstorm how they will work to learn it. This will encourage active participation in the learning process and will help students determine what to focus on while studying.
  • Practice test-preparation strategies with your students.To help students retain facts visualizing techniques such as mind mapping can help visual learners while acronyms and mnemonics may help auditory learners. In addition faculty can encourage students to take ownership of ideas by explaining the concept to a peer or writing notes out in their own words.


Teaching in the disciplines

More and more, we are realizing that in addition to general pedagogical knowledge, teachers need to understand how learning happens in their subjects specifically. Unique differences between the disciplines have to to with how knowledge is organized in that discipline, how knowledge is developed, and how the discipline is practiced.

CTLAE has begun to take small stepts in this area and is working with small groups of teachers to try and understand these differences and develop resources to support teachers in developing their pedagogical content knowledge.


Science lab reports for non-science majors

Human activities as a source of atmospheric carbon global warming

Virtual lab reports

Lead shot as a source of lead for remote rural communities



Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship Module 1

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Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship Module 3

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Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship Module 2

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Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship Module 4

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