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Creating Effective Learning Environments

Creating Effective Learning Environments

Workshop Attended: Certification in College Teaching: Creating Effective Learning Environments
Date: 11 May 2017

Description of Competency

Traditional college teaching involves standing at a lecturn and talking at the students and hoping that they absorb most of it. However, this is only one method of learning. An effective eductator sets up the environment so that students have multiple different ways to learn.


Below are notes taken at the workshop.

What skills and techniques did I learn that will help me become a better educator?

I learned about using clickers in the classroom, how to design effective questions, and about the peer instruction cycle. Students can teach each other.

What things am I still uncertain about regarding this topic that I need to investigate further in the future?

What other methods are available to create better learning environments? What exact peer instruction cycle works best for me and my class?

How can I apply materials from this session to my own class to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning?

I can better analyze the questions that I ask, both to have better alternates to trigger and detect some misconceptions and to help force a deeper level of understanding.


Traditional lecturing is only one way of teaching and it is far from the best way. Interactive questions can be an effective tool to get students to think about a subject and to reveal and expose misconceptions that they might have. Poorly designed questions only test the student's ability to recall factual information. Further, multiple choice questions often have obviously wrong or obviously right questions allowing students to guess the correct answer from the way the problem is setup. Better questions force students to use the knowledge that they have already learned in order to synthesize new knowledge.

I use the peer instruction cycle during my classes. I separate topics by asking a question to the class and encourage them to discuss it with their neighbor before discussing it as a class. After the workshop, I will consider trying to get some amount of committment from each of them (such as by voting with clickers) as this may help encourage students to participate in the discussion. I will also redesign some of the questions so that students have to use what they have just learned rather than simply regurgitating some facts.