The Commons

Strategies, Styles & Tactics

Teaching strategies combine instructional methods, learning activities, and materials with the goal of engaging students so they will ultimately learn a particular lesson, concept and be able to successfully complete a course. 

One clear and recent trend is the overall shift away from instructors and what they are, what they do and how they teach to focus on their students and what they do and how they learn.

The resources and topics below include tips, strategies, and best practices that will likely benefit you and your students.

Got a tip or website to share?  Send to Susan Werner at

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Your learning styles have more influence than you may realize.  Your preferred styles guide the way you learn. They also change the way you internally represent experiences, the way you recall information, and even the words you choose.

Check out these seven learning styles that can guide they way you learn.  

Cornell University taking the deep approach by making sense and meaning out of new information and connecting it to what is already known.  To learn well and deeply, students need to be active participants in that process.

Cornerstone onDemand has thorough explanations of type of learners as well as other resources. 

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University of Waterloo has some excellent resources material on lecturing effectively.  From preparation, lecture notes,  structuring your lecture clearly, keeping students engaged, delivery, using visual aids and  special accessibility considerations. 

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Want to know about leading scintillating, stimulating, substantive class discussions? Check out Columbia University tip sheet on how to engage your students with course materials.
Engaging students in discussion deepens their learning and motivation by propelling them to develop their own views and hear their own voices.  From Vanderbilt University learn the key basic principles and specific tools, strategies and ten tips for starting the dreaded discussions.

Some very practical suggestions from Yale adapted from "How to Get Students to Talk in Class

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University of Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence has some common but effective active learning strategies that you might use in conjunction with the traditional lecture format.

Want to learn about a flipped classroom and its benefits? North Carolina has some tips for flips.  Alternatives to giving students the material that you present in your lectures. 

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A good introduction to what writing-to-learn is all about from Colorado State University. Writing across the curriculum is a comprehensive guide and covers many topics from handling student writing, collaborative writing assignments, and what makes a good writing assignment. 

A two minute video from The Teaching Channel on this strategy to get learners to have a deep understanding.  Why it is important that students participate in low-stakes writing? How can you use this strategy in your classroom? 

Needing some suggestions for activities using writing-to-learn strategies then check out these write-to-learn activities.
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From The Teaching Professor you can learn about creating powerful learning experiences for students. This special report features 10 insightful articles that will help you create more effective group learning activities and grading strategies as well as tips for dealing with group members who are “hitchhiking” (getting a free ride from the group) or “overachieving” (dominating the group effort).

A blog from Chronicle of Higher Education of how we all want students to learn how to do our disciplines, but with exceptions like labs and field trips, the college classroom mostly prohibits us from involving students in real, raw disciplinary practice. Learn what we can do in the classroom is give students practice making the kinds of decisions that we make in our disciplines—giving them what John Dewey calls “dramatic rehearsal” for real-world problem solving.