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.


  • Topic: Engaging Students
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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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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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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

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8 Benefits of Frequent Quizzing and Testing in Your College Class

Few things strike fear in the hearts of students as much as tests, especially when knowing they will be used for summative assessment. Test anxiety aside, quizzes and tests can actually help students learn course content. Research demonstrates that the testing effect, which is sometimes called test-enhanced learning or retrieval practice, has a greater impact on student learning than simply

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How to use Learn By Writing Exercises in Your Class

We write for many different reasons. Blogging, reporting, journaling, playwriting, scientific writing, opinion writing, recipe writing, songwriting, creative writing, writing for social media—the list of examples could go on and on. Even texting or emailing with friends and family is a near-constant form of writing we may take for granted. Writing is a form of expression, but it can also

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4 Ways to Improve Your Online Teaching

At the K. Patricia Cross Academy, our mission is to support faculty with easily accessible online teaching resources. As instruction is increasingly accomplished in an online environment, this edition of CrossCurrents is focused on highlighting some of the previous resources we’ve made available to instructors to aid in their development of successful, high-impact approaches to online teaching.

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Encouraging Students to Read for Understanding

Reading is a fundamental skill that many of us take for granted, particularly in academia, yet it is essential to student success in and out of the classroom. However, as Thorndike wrote in 1917, reading can be as complex as solving a complex equation: Understanding a paragraph is like solving a problem in mathematics. It consists of selecting the right

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Encouraging Metacognition: Helping Students Learn How to Learn

College and university students are regularly asked to learn a great deal of content and many skills in their courses, but the learning processes involved are rarely considered or managed on their own. For example, students can find it incredibly difficult to recognize learning gaps or misunderstandings when learning a new concept or process. They don’t always plan out their