Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence: Best Practices in Teaching & Learning


Best Practices in Teaching & Learning

This list is intentionally brief. If you need assistance or ideas for implementing any of these practices please reach out to We are happy to offer trainings or one-on-one consultations. 

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  • Align assignments with course goals and outcomes
  • Offer multiple, varied, low stakes opportunities to demonstrate learning
  • Use clear evaluation criteria and / or rubrics
  • Provide clear, timely feedback
  • Invite feedback often and throughout the course
  • Offer a “time bank” that allows students to have a two-day grace period on one assignment or two one-day extensions for two different assignments


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Building Community

  • Set community standards and / or class norms
  • Demonstrate and encourage social presence
  • Include multiple avenues for interaction and engagement
  • Model participation and behavioral expectations
  • Get to know your students and let them get to know you
  • Adopt a casual, conversational tone in announcements and messages
  • Allow time before, during, or after class for social conversation
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Class Discussions

  • Foster equitable participation
  • Develop prompts that stimulate dialogue and exchange of ideas
  • Ask good questions - open-ended, encourage problem-solving
  • Be patient and make space, allow for pauses and silence
  • Allow for small group discussions with share outs
  • Stagger deadlines for initial posts and responses
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Course Design

  • Define clear learning outcomes
  • Use Universal Design for Learning strategies for accessibility
  • Promote active learning (see resources on right)
  • Let design support and enhance delivery
  • Make the course interesting and engaging
  • Align all assessment, learning activities, and content with learning outcomes
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Engaging Students

  • Create community agreements to build community
  • Use icebreakers early and throughout
  • Regularly solicit feedback and input to shape and improve class
  • Encourage attendance at office hours
  • Offer multiple ways to participate (hand raising, chat, discussion boards)
  • Use multiple means of representation, action, expression
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Experiential Learning

  • Create opportunities for student autonomy and agency
  • Remember it’s about the process as much as the product
  • Give plenty of time in class for reflection and emphasize its importance
  • Assess student level and provide appropriate support and guidance
  • Align activities with learning outcomes
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Group Work

  • Set expectations for respectful, professional collaboration
  • Assign roles to ensure engagement
  • Brainstorm qualities of an effective team, encourage group contracts
  • Use peer review and reflection in the assessment
  • Consider diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives when creating groups
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Inclusive Teaching

  • Implement culturally responsive pedagogy (see resource on right)
  • Choose diverse content, voices, and examples and discuss their value
  • Use a variety of teaching methods and modalities
  • Offer multiple ways for students to demonstrate knowledge
  • Find opportunities for students to contribute to course content
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Online Courses

  • Orient students to learning online
  • Communicate often and in a variety of ways
  • Create community online
  • Make the organization of the course deliberate and explicit
  • Ensure tools and technology are used effectively

More information on online courses:

More Teaching Resources

Active Learning Strategies

For more ideas on incorporating active learning into your classroom download this helpful list.
Also, check out this resource on active learning while physically distancing.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Learn more about culturally responsive education and how to use it in your teaching.

Universal Design for Learning

For more information on universal design for instruction, and for learning, check out this helpful resource.

Teaching Large Classes

Ideas and resources from the UT Center for Teaching and Learning.

Also, check out this resource on teaching large classes.

Online and Blended Courses


from the UT Center for Teaching and Learning and The Commons: A Community for Online/Blended Course Planning

Concurrent Teaching

Approaches to Concurrent Teaching

Deeper Dive Instructional Guides

Explore these topics

Teaching Oral Competency

Collaborative Learning

Experiential Learning in Courses

Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Architecting Online Courses

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