Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence: Ask CATE



We need your teaching questions!

As a community of practice, Moody College faculty create a culture of student empowerment and sense of belonging in the learning process. 

Burning questions provide the grist for resolving issues that we encounter daily in our instructional planning, delivery, and reflection. What burning instructional question would you like to resolve? 

Curiosity about teaching approaches helps continually refresh practice to improve the student experience and build effective relationships.  What teaching approaches are you curious about exploring? 

Please contribute to strengthening our teaching community by sharing a question that we can explore together.

Submit your question here!


How can I leverage effective assessment practices to help students connect deeply with the learning?

In a recent Faculty Focus article (2023, September 20), Dr. Dimple Martin, the director of the Quality Enhancement Program at Miles College, observed that their professional learning community “shifted [their] focus from what was taught” to “what was learned” to promote fair and balanced assessment of learning. The author emphasizes the value of formative assessment with feedback to drive the learning process by allowing the learner to make adjustments in their acquisition of knowledge and skills.  
One approach that gets to the heart of what was actually learned by individuals is having students create assessment items. For example, having students individually or collectively write exam items at multiple stages in the learning process captures valid assessments of their learning as it is happening. Assessment items are vetted at the student level and, in turn, at the instructor level in the form of feedback to improve the learning. This active instructional approach puts students in the position of metacognitive review of the content as they actively question, reflect on personal strengths and weaknesses related to the content, and enact think aloud protocols in the instance of collaborative activities.
The CATE team is ready, willing, and able to support your efforts to try new assessment strategies. Schedule a consult appointment to solidify a plan for focusing assessments on what learned!

Additional Ask CATE Questions

As you begin to offer resources in your course, be sure to take advantage of the Ally tool in Canvas to assist with making the material accessible for all students. With a few clicks, the Ally tool creates an array of formats that support individual learner needs.  

Ally Tips 

  • Check accessibility before uploading. Use accessibility tools in word processing and slide presentation platforms to create accessible resources at the source.  

  • Delete all old files that will not be used. 

  • Use the Ally Course Accessibility Report to determine the easiest items to remediate. Start with the easy items.  

Please reach out to the CATE team to get started or address any snags to improve accessibility in your courses.  

Even in the recent past, the first point of contact with most students was when they showed up on campus to the physical classroom. The current true point of first contact with students new to you is digital, even if you teach in-person courses. 

Whether it is your UT faculty profile or your Canvas course home page, faculty need to be strategically aware and proactive to design for engagement in digital spaces before students access information. Capturing your intentional instructional coaching as course specific elements in your syllabus or your Canvas course helps prepare students to successfully and actively engage in your course. In a recent journal article, Tualaulelei, et al. mapped pedagogical touchpoints against dimensions of online student engagement (Redmond et al., 2018) and found implications for practice that include “purposeful design not just for cognitive and [behavioural] engagement, but also for social, collaborative and emotional engagement” (p. 200). The CATE Summer Design Series aims to support these pedagogical touchpoints. 

The concept of “ungrading” has garnered attention recently in higher education discussions as an inclusive teaching approach. Another way to explain “ungrading” is a collaborative effort to engage students in metacognitive assessment of growth. A recent Faculty Focus article gives a practical overview and case study with specific application approaches.   


If you are interested in more inclusive student assessment approaches, please make an appointment for design ideas.