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: Lecturing
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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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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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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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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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Tips to Encourage Better Note-Taking in Your Class

“Is this going to be on the test?”  Many of us have heard this question posed as students wonder aloud whether a new point or idea should be included among their notes. But how should it be answered?

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Exploring Schema in Your Class: Techniques to Activate Prior Knowledge

No student enters the classroom as a blank slate. Each has prior knowledge, also known as background knowledge, which informs their approaches to and understanding of new material and new experiences. Prior knowledge is the accumulation of everything a student has learned, through both formal and informal means. We can help students better understand new material by activating their prior

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Developing Effective Learning Goals in College Classes

Much of the literature about teaching and learning stresses that teachers should articulate their learning goals as well as their objectives and outcomes. Learning goals allow you and your students to focus on what they are supposed to learn. When learning goals are explicit, they will guide students’ decisions on where to focus effort as well as to illuminate what

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Creating an Engaging Teaching Persona Online

When we teach online, we have to be more intentional about sharing information about ourselves and about which information we will share. We decide, for example, whether to display a picture of ourselves or an avatar and if so, which. We have to make decisions about what personal information to put out there for students. We have to choose whether or not we want them to see and hear us. How can we make deliberate choices when creating our personas?

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What do We Know about Student Experiences of Online Learning?

Higher education institutions have been scrambling to meet the demand for remote and online courses. This has been due in part to general growth trends in online enrollment, but it has also been accelerated out of response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of this, we have focused on helping faculty teach more effectively online. In this blog, we turn our