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.


You’ve Got This! Helping Students Expect to Succeed

As Henry Ford once observed, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” His perceptive remark neatly summarizes an important principle that applies to teaching. The best way to lead students to expect success is to structure the course so that they can succeed, and then demonstrate throughout the course that they will succeed if they work hard and persist even when the going gets tough.

Honoring the Legacy of Dr. K. Patricia Cross

In a world that seems to be experiencing increased strife and suffering, we need role models who can inspire and uplift us. This academy’s namesake is such a role model. K. Patricia Cross, affectionately known as Pat to her friends and colleagues, passed away earlier this year after living a life of dignity, substance, and service. Because November is a

Skip the Slides – 5 Alternatives that Can Create More Engaging Presentations

Whether created with PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or another program, slide decks appear to be the current default format for any type of oral presentation. The disadvantage of automatically adopting this standard approach, however, is that many people have grown tired of slide presentations, especially poorly executed ones. Slide Replacements can provide greater flexibility when creating your own form.

Grading Group Work: Tips and Strategies

One of the most difficult challenges faculty face in a collaborative classroom is how to grade students. The fundamental issue is that individual and group accountability seem to be at odds with each other. Tradition holds that a student’s individual course grade should reflect an accurate evaluation of that student’s work and should not be influenced by the performance of

Using Rubrics to Provide Students with Quality Feedback

Imagine attempting to learn archery while blindfolded. You take aim and shoot, but without visual feedback, you wouldn’t know how close your shot came to hitting the bullseye. Indeed, you would likely have only a vague idea of whether you hit the target at all. Feedback is critical in developing new knowledge and skills. Students today have multiple ways to

Making Group Work Work: Strategies for Forming Effective Groups

Group work has many benefits to students and student learning, but it also has its challenges. Most common problems can be avoided if you put in the effort and take the time to plan carefully. One of the early steps to take into consideration as you prepare is how to form groups. There are many decisions to make, and the

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

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

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

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.

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

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.