Top Teaching Challenges

The following list contains information of some top teaching challenges that UNH faculty encountered and helpful strategies that can help to overcome those challenges.

How do I get students to come to class prepared, and do the readings before they come to the class?

  • Focus on required readings -- avoid overwhelming students with non-essential readings.

  • At the end of class and in a post-class e-mail, provide students with some guiding questions to help them navigate the assigned readings.

  • Use low stakes, "learning check" style quizzes in class to incentive reading.

  • Be sure to reference readings in class, and connect them to the classroom activities.


How do I get quality engagement in online discussions?

  • Provide detailed discussion rubrics to encourage substantial responses to the discussion prompt and to other student posts.

  • Encourage critical thinking by having students pick one initial post that they are interested in, and share three things: one thing you like about the post, one thing you think can be improved, and ask the author a question.

  •  Ensure fair and consistent participation in group work - provide opportunities to hear feedback from students during the group work. (see "How to facilitate efficient group work" for more information)


 How to keep students engaged in class?

  • Consider using the ARC ( Application, Response, and Collaboration) model in class.

  • Employ active learning strategies.

  • Adopt a low-stakes "learning check" (pop quiz) in the class.

  • Encourage the usage of mobile devices for clicker questions, or other specific class activities.

  • Have the students teach - encourage group collaboration and peer learning by instructor's facilitation (see "How to facilitate efficient group work" for more information).


How do I get consistent participation and be sure just one person isn't doing all the work?

  • Design group projects so students can learn to be team players. Group projects should include activities that encourage team members to get to know each other. Identify roles within the team, and have students rotate roles over longer projects; develop a project time line and agree on the project outcomes.

  • Provide a detailed rubric so students understand that they are not only assessed by the final outcome but also participation - self evaluation and evaluation for peers should be part of the grading process.

  • Instructor should regularly check in during the team project process.


How do I manage a classroom with a diverse cohort and mitigate disruptive behaviors?

  • Encourage students to get to know each other - let them talk about why they are in the course, their academic/personal interests and expectations.

  • Treat everyone equally by letting them know that everyone taking the course has similar goals.

  • Offer help (office hour, online tutorials, etc.).

  • To avoid some students taking over the class discussions - offer opportunities for non-talkers to participate through small-group activities, changing seating arrangements, or active learning actives like writing a minute-paper. 

  • Advice from a Stanford Professor.


How do I engage students from different cultural / language backgrounds?

  • Provide additional resources outside of the class (can put in myCourses, for example), especially those resources that provide critical information for in-class learning.

  • Ask clarifying questions to ensure students understand the content.

  • Invite students to ask questions during the class or office hours. Students may come from a culture that does not encourage interacting with instructors with questions.

  • Use more "formal", clear terms and avoid idioms, slang or cultural references.

  • Provide synonyms or definition if cultural phrases are needed.


How to facilitate efficient group work?

  • Assign roles in the group project so each student can take a responsibility for the learning -- a role can be a "idea creator", "note-taker" or "code builder". Align the roles with learning objectives -- consult the Instructional Design and Development team with any questions.

  • Ensure fair and consistent participation in group work -- one of the goals of having group projects it to teach students about time lines. Make sure students come up with milestones for their projects, schedule meetings with an agenda so they can check what has been done and what is expected to be done. Ask each team member to track their contributions and identify their work as part of the final project report; Ask each team member to assess peer’s performance as the assessment process. State this process clearly in your syllabus and grading rubrics.

  • Have the students teach -- use Jigsaw puzzle as the active learning strategy in your group work. For example, break the learning content/tasks into several segments and assign each team members one of the segments. Within the group, students contribute their role/task towards the overall outcome. Consult with the Instructional Designers for other alternations of the Jigsaw puzzle activities.

  • Feedback is the key. Gathering feedback from the groups for what is and what isn’t working throughout the whole project is essential. Switching people among groups is not recommended but sometimes it has to be done if the members within the group cannot work together. A survey before group forming to learn more about students can help avoid future conflicts.



Article ID: 1113
Fri 7/19/19 5:51 PM
Thu 12/3/20 10:49 AM
Applicable Institution(s):
Granite State College (GSC)
Keene State College (KSC)
Plymouth State University (PSU)
University of New Hampshire (UNH)