As you progress through this school term, you can see which activities, questions, and assignments spark student engagement and elicit positive responses. You’ve also observed which activities and aspects of your course have proven less effective or engaging. When you consider what you’d like to do next term, you’ll want to continue on with the things that have produced positive outcomes, while you evaluate, and perhaps eliminate, those which did not produce the results you wanted or expected.

If you decide to eliminate some activities or assignments, you’ll want to replace them with new ways to approach the material. If that’s the case for you, you may want to begin seeking out those new ideas now, so that you can develop them fully for your next term.

In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, authors Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie describe three steps you can take to identify new teaching strategies and ideas you can incorporate into your course.

1. Review some new reading, listening, or viewing material. Professional journals on teaching and learning, books, blogs… references and resources on teaching abound. Your department may have some on hand; you can also seek them out through your campus’ library. (Note: If you have not yet read McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, it’s a great place to start! In addition to the information that it offers, it also provides a list of supplementary reading titles in each chapter, which will guide you to additional, helpful readings and resources.)

In the mood to listen or watch? You might enjoy “tuning in” to webinars and podcasts that offer teaching tips, strategies, and insights. (For ideas, browse Cengage Learning’s list of upcoming webinars and Cengage Learning TeamUP’s Professional Development Portal.)

2. Ask your colleagues and peers. Other instructors from inside and outside your discipline or field can provide great insights regarding new, helpful, and proven teaching strategies. How to get started? Have coffee, lunch, or dinner with instructors from other departments, and have a discussion about the strategies, activities, and assignments that work in your courses. If you’re at a professional meeting or conference, strike up a conversation with a peer from another institution, and ask what types of learning experiences have proven successful in their classroom. And who knows: a serendipitous chat in the hallway or library on your own campus could provide just the idea or “boost” you’ve needed.

3. Watch someone in action. Take a professional workshop or class… you’ll gain added knowledge and skills while also affording yourself the chance to watch another instructor in action. Alternately, you might ask a colleague if he or she minds if you sit in to observe one session of his or her class. (Consider asking someone from outside your own discipline; the “cross-pollination” can bring about fresh and creative connections.)

Teaching an online class for the first time? Consider taking an online class for yourself. You won’t necessarily be able to “observe” the instructor, but you can see what it takes to run an effective online course, and gain a sense of the experience from the student’s perspective. (You can also learn from the strategies and tactics that didn’t work for you.)

Cengage Learning’s TeamUP events, such as the upcoming 2015 TeamUP Developmental Education Conference, offer an excellent opportunity for you to meet with other instructors and peers to gain and share new ideas, strategies, and experiences in teaching.


Additional ways to find new teaching ideas (and put them into action)

Looking for more information that can help you get prepared for next term? It’s never too early! Review the following blog posts:


What Every Educator Must Do Before Walking Into the Classroom This Fall: Take Stock, Gear Up, Then Rock It Out!

Five Ways to Prepare for the Start of Classes

Get Organized for a New Term

Are You Ready for Next Semester?

Smart Teaching Strategies from Cengage Learning’s TeamUP



How do you find new teaching ideas? Share your strategies in the comments.


Reference: Svinicki, Marilla, and Wilbert J. McKeachie. 2014. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 14th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.