CrossCurrents Library

CrossCurrents is an electronic publication that offers articles on a wide range of topics related to teaching and learning in higher education. Through engaging content that encourages exploration and reflection on best practices, innovative pedagogies, and emerging trends in higher education, we try to help college teachers successfully navigate the challenges they face in today’s complex classroom.

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Wait for It! Improving Student Responses by Increasing Wait Time

Research demonstrates that in a typical college classroom, most teachers pose a question and then wait less than one second for students to respond. As you might imagine, there are significant challenges with this practice. Allowing students such a short processing time almost guarantees you will not receive carefully thought out responses. It also promotes a classroom dynamic in which

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Using Interleaves, Bookends, and Overlays to Create a More Effective Presentation

Teachers and students alike know that lectures can be boring. The following quip, widely attributed to Albert Camus, elegantly captures this sentiment; “Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep.” Yet we – and students – have also experienced situations in which we sat mesmerized as we listened to an exceptionally captivating lecturer. While few of

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6 Icebreakers to Help Students Feel Comfortable in Your Class

According to surveys, two of the main concerns of most students on the first day of class are whether they will like the instructor and how well they will get along with their classmates (Provitera-McGlynn, 2001). The first days of the semester establish the tone for the next weeks. According to Cavanaugh (2016), “On the first few days of class

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Promoting Learning for the Most Students: Intro to the Principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

The best teachers want the highest possible number of students in their classes to learn from their instruction. Read on to learn how the principles Universal Design for Learning can assist in developing an inclusive class, and removing learning hurdles that students may encounter.

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Getting to Know You: How to Do a Student Characteristics Analysis

Just as effective public speakers acknowledge the importance of knowing their audience, so do effective college teachers understand the importance of knowing essential characteristics about their students. Students’ intellectual, social, and emotional traits influence the effectiveness and efficiency of their learning. Understanding these characteristics helps ensure a good fit between what you are trying to teach and what students are

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Get Smart: Crafting SMART Learning Goals

While identifying goals for our courses may not always be on the top of our to-do lists, clarifying where we are going helps us to determine how we will get there and how we will know when we have arrived. In this blog, we focus on setting SMART Lecture-Learning Goals that can help you clarify what you want students to learn from a single lecture.

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Answers to Key Questions on Designing Effective Online Discussions

Designing effective online discussion boards can be a challenge. While some discussion boards can be fruitful grounds for conversation, others fall flat and feel forced and stale. The design of the board is critical to ensuring a successful online conversation. During the design process, we encourage you to consider the following questions. 1. What learning goal do you want students

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Inclusive Teaching: Teaching for All to Learn

Inclusive teaching is pedagogy through which instructors strive to support and engage all students, regardless of their backgrounds, identities, or abilities. It is a pedagogical approach in which instructors recognize and affirm that a student’s differences are inherently connected to teaching and learning processes. They then work to create a learning environment in which all students can learn from the

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Reflecting on Remote and Online Teaching: Making Meaning and Moving Forward

For years we have acknowledged that college teaching has gotten tougher, but the abrupt shift to remote teaching in response to the COVID-19 pandemic presented instructors with even more challenges. As colleges and universities struggled to deal with the crisis in the spring of 2020, some professors had only a week’s or even a weekends’ notice to restructure their classes

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Meaningful Peer Interaction: Combatting Isolation in Online Courses

It’s common knowledge for any educator who has taught online that it can be a significant challenge for students who are learning online to develop feelings of connection with their peers and teacher. Instead, students can easily feel isolated and alone in online learning spaces (Blackmon & Major, 2012). This sense of isolation can add new challenges to students’ engagement

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Blended Learning: 7 Steps to Success

As colleges and universities look for new ways to improve both student learning and the student experience, blended courses are becoming increasingly common. A combination of onsite and online instruction, there is no single approach to blended learning. With any definition, the key to blended learning is the combination of onsite and online instruction. Educators in different geographic regions have

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5 Tips for Using Final Projects in Your Class

Months of lectures, activities, group projects, quizzes, readings, and more typically culminate in an end-of-term evaluation. It may be tempting to slip into the default “review for final exam” mode as a term comes to a close as tests can be worthwhile for student learning and retention (see 8 Benefits of Frequent Quizzing and Testing.) However, final projects can prove