Characteristics of Strong Teaching Activities

Participants in the 2009 workshop on Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences brainstormed the following list of characteristics.

  • Starts with an underlying question
  • Hands-on
  • Multi-faceted: multiple related pieces that are part of a theme
  • Deliverable: students will produce something
  • Students "own" their work
  • There's a balance between students working independently and working with guidance
  • Timely feedback is built in, so that students can recognize and correct mistakes
  • Revision is built in -- students practice their skills until they achieve proficiency
  • Real-world context
  • Involves application and/or synthesis
  • If it involves modeling, students understand how the model is designed
  • Students are prepared for the activity: they have the base knowledge and skills they need to be successful
  • Any tools built into the exercise are available and working
  • Have clear expectations
  • Activity is consistent with the course goals
  • Dynamic: students can see how changing the inputs change the results
  • Incorporate reality -- whether in the field or using data or ...
  • Fun! and safe
  • Reflect the learning styles in your class (i.e., reflect all learning styles)
  • Is assessable -- you can assess whether it was worthwhile, whether students learned what you want them to learn from it