Teaching Foundations Support

Learning Objectives

Well-written learning objectives help the instructor and the students. They provide the instructor with a roadmap for assessment and lesson planning, and they tell the students what is important.

The ABCD Model for writing objectives incorporates different components into your objective. The University of Maryland's Learning Outcomes Research Guide provides an introduction to the ABCD Method.

Yale's Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning provides examples of objectives from courses from different disciplines. It also includes recommendations for designing objectives.

Using Bloom's Taxonomy as a resource provides guidance for ensuring you are varying the level of complexity of thought you are requiring of your students. Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching reviews Bloom's Taxonomy and provides additional information for its utilization.

Below are examples of well-written learning objectives.

  • Students will be able to evaluate their classmates’ arguments in a Socratic seminar by taking Cornell notes during each discussion.

  • Students will be able to apply their knowledge of the writing process to a peer editing session in which they provide at least five peers with feedback aligned with the class rubric.

  • After reading “The Tell-Tale Heart,” students will be able to contrast Poe’s tone with another Romantic author in a short expository paragraph.


Carnegie Mellon University's Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation's website contains pages on assessment basics, assessing students' prior knowledge, assessing students learning and performance, and assessing your teaching.

Summative assessment occurs at the end of the learning process. It is culminating and evaluative. In practice, it looks like a final or credentialing exam, a paper, or a research project or presentation.

Formative assessment occurs during the learning process. It is used to gauge the students' progress and adjust instruction as necessary as you work towards your objectives and summative assessments. It can be a short assignment, draft of a future paper, or observation of group work or in-class activity.

  • Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are formative assessments made popular by Angelo and Cross's book Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. You can find 50 CATs by Angelo and Cross at this link. The list includes CATs, their purposes, and a description of each one.

    • One example of a CAT is "muddiest point." This prompts students to respond to the question, "What is the muddiest point in ________?" Responses will indicate any points of the content that are still unclear, or "muddy," for the students.

Lesson Planning

A good lesson plan keeps faculty organized. With a good lesson plan, faculty are able to successfully deliver instruction, monitor students' progress, and work towards learning objectives at an appropriate pace.

The University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning & Teaching has a page on Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning. The page outlines the steps and consideration for developing lesson plans.

This folder contains several lesson plan templates that can easily be used or adapted for any content area.

Engaging Students with the Material

Active learning is any learning activity that involves students engaging as participants in the learning process. This article provides several examples of active learning techniques. The article features active learning in the context of math. However, the strategies can be applied to any discipline.

Students need critical thinking skills to be reflective and innovative. Critical thinking is an important, transferrable skill that will help students in academic and work settings. The University of Connecticut's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning states that critical thinking is the foundation of a strong education.

Metacognition is thinking about one's thinking. Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching provides a more detailed look at metacognition and introduces methods for incorporating it into your teaching. As stated on Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching's website, "Metacognitive practices increase students’ abilities to transfer or adapt their learning to new contexts and tasks."

Creating a Sense of Belonging

Sense of belonging refers to college students' beliefs regarding their sense of inclusion and fit in a class or college. Students' relationships with their faculty, their classmates, and others they interact with at a school impact questions like "Do I belong at this college?" and "Am I smart enough to do well in this course?"

In order for students to succeed in a class, it is crucial that they understand what success means in the course and believe they are capable of succeeding. There are several instructional strategies that can help create a learning environment in which diverse students feel a sense of belonging, necessary for academic success.

Some strategies that can help create a sense of belonging include

  • Make Uncertainty Safe: During class activities and discussion, give students the opportunity to revise their answers and thinking and ask follow-up questions to guide them through their answers. Also, include numerous low-stakes assignments to allow for practice.

  • Ask Students About Themselves: Early in a course, it is helpful to ask all students to share information about their academic, professional, and personal interests as well as to share anything they'd like to about what will help them in the course. Soliciting such information helps to demonstrate your investment in their success and can inform you about necessary steps to take.

Vanderbilt University's Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom page offers several additional strategies that can bolster students sense of belonging.