At the Cengage Learning Blog, we enjoy sharing our teaching tips, strategies, and ideas with you. But it also inspires us when you share your ideas! This week, we’re featuring comments and contributions submitted by our readers. Today’s teaching tips focus on ways you can get students engaged, motivated, and conversing in your class.

Have teaching ideas you’d like to share? Comment below, or send your thoughts to [email protected].

Utilize Twitter and Skype to engage students in learning. Place a question on Twitter daily and have the student answer the question citing the source.

–Marian Yavorka Jobe, UPMC Mercy (Pittsburgh, PA)


Before discussing the topic in class, ask them to define a number of major concepts in the topic from their textbook with examples and explanations. With their mastery of the major concept, and having browsed or read the topic, they come in fully prepared. And they will follow as you discuss the topics using the concepts. Full understanding of the topic will be easy.

–Mmutakaego Chukwuanu, Allen University (Columbia, SC)


I use a procedure similar to the “7 Minute Speed Dating” model. I split the students into two groups, asking the first group to place  their chairs next to each other in a line and sit almost shoulder to shoulder. Then, I ask the second group to take their seats and sit directly in front of another student. (There are two lines of desks with students facing each other.)

I post the information I want them to share, such as their name, town/state, academic level, college major, campus activities/sports, hobbies, something interesting about themselves. I tell them that they have two minutes to share the info.

I set a timer for two minutes and when it rings, I tell everyone to stand and move one seat to the right, so that they are facing a new student. (The students on the far end of the line have to change rows.) Repeat the process until the students are back in their original position.

If I have do not have an even number of students and one student does not have a partner, I participate.

You will know it is working by the sounds in the room. The students love this. However, they have only met half the class and want to know how they will meet the others. I tell them that they are on their own for that part.

–Kathleen Reilly, Kean University (Union, NJ)