Teaching strategies to enhance learning

Are you curious about using artificial intelligence (AI) as a feedback tool or applying universal design for learning in your classroom? As higher education moves towards more student-centred, hybrid and flexible modes of course design and delivery, effective teaching methods must lead the way. This collection of resources recognises teaching as a process of refining and supplementing the methods and practices used in the classroom. Educators from around the globe explore the wealth of pedagogies available to university lecturers, offering advice based on their experience of tried-and-true and emerging teaching strategies.

Vintage-style composite illustration of schoolchildren next to grinder being fed with text books

Teaching critical thinking

Critical thinking is a key attribute for 21st-century graduates. In her resource, Sarah Birrell Ivory, a lecturer in climate change and business strategy, draws on her definition of it as “a cognitive process of actively and carefully evaluating the reasoning and evidence behind knowledge and arguments and developing defensible knowledge and arguments ourselves” to offer her insight into critical thinking teaching methods for beginners that have the potential to achieve outstanding results.

How to teach critical thinking to beginners

Sarah Ivory explains how she teaches critical thinking through application rather than theory, tasking students with applying three core elements of the process in their regular classes

Sarah Ivory

The University of Edinburgh

Effective assessment

Effective assessments – formative and summative – that scrutinise students’ knowledge and understanding of subject matter greatly enhance learning. Each institution is unique so there is no silver bullet for learning assessment, but in her role as a learning assessment consultant, Cecilia Tagliapietra Ovies sees many mistakes and lost opportunities. She uses these as inspiration for outlining some basic principles that any institution can follow to avoid the most common mistakes and help ensure success. 

Inclusive and accessible learning and teaching in higher education embraces the view of each student as a unique individual. It celebrates diversity as having an active role in enriching the lives and learning of others. This way of thinking about the curriculum design considers pedagogy, teaching methods and assessments that engage students in meaningful tasks and learning that are not only relevant but accessible to everyone. Kimberly Wilder-Davis explains how to make assessments accessible and relevant to all students.

Universal design for learning

UDL is a learner-centred set of principles that can help educators design more flexible and inclusive curricula. Informed by cognitive neuroscience, the UDL framework draws together many elements of what education research tells us about the types of strategies that support learning, writes Dara Cassidy at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. She offers ways to get started.

Student-centred learning design prioritises the unique needs and inclinations of each student. This pedagogical orientation in universities makes the student the focal point of the learning process, emphasising the active participation, critical examination and problem-solving skills of the learner, write Macau University of Science and Technology’s M. C. Zhang. In their resource, they offer advice on designing a student-centred curriculum.

Classroom management

Many teachers in higher education lack the vital classroom management skills they need to keep their students engaged and under control. In his resource, John Weldon at Victoria University outlines some ways to master the skill, including how to build trusting relationships and get to know your students, own your classroom and create a charter to build accountability. Read the seven tips he wishes he’d known about classroom management before he taught his first class.