Back to School Teaching Tips

By Stephen S. Davis, PhD, USAF Major Retired, Director, Faculty Development, Ohio University

It’s clearly students’ responsibility to learn, but faculty can facilitate their learning in many ways – whether class or clinic:

  • Begin each learning session with written objectives/goals
  • Hand out study questions or a study guide
  • When using video, begin with an overview, then, ask a few key questions for students to keep in mind as they watch it…end with discussion
  • Make learning as active as possible – provide opportunities for students to see and do things with key concepts


  • Group discussions, Think, write, pare, share activity; Demonstrations, cases, surveys; have them write summaries & test questions, audience response systems, Today’s Meet (backchannel communication)
  • My favorite resources to help do this: Angelo & Cross “Classroom Assessment Techniques” and Elizabeth Barkley’s “Student Engagement Techniques” for 100 ideas and more).


  • Written objectives, established procedures, hands on activities, time set for feedback, process (see one, do one), osteopathic structural exam and procedures, daily wrap up…

As you prepare for the new academic year or new students and update your course or learning contracts to include at least one active learning strategy for every 20 minutes (actually they begin to lose interest in 10). I got 7,270,000 hits in .27 seconds using the search term “active learning techniques” in Google. Just breeze through the top ten hits (many are lists of activities) and try one. Plan the work, work the plan, get feedback, improve the tactic. If you can give students a choice they get some ownership and work just a bit harder.