Good Teaching

What is Good Teaching?

We recognize that there are many ways to be an effective instructor and many approaches to creating opportunities for students to learn. There are several lists of teaching approaches and strategies that are seen as good teaching, but there is no universal and definitive list.  Research on how students learn has provided us with information on teaching practices that can generate significant student learning across disciplines. We have discussed and synthesized the components of good teaching that appear repeatedly in the research into a set of principles that can provide a possible starting point for departments.  [Sample Elements of Learning-Centered Teaching]

 It is important to remember that these principles are not about getting everyone to teach the same way.  Good teaching is a highly individualized, context-dependent activity that occurs within a discipline with specific habits of mind and traditions of teaching, or signature pedagogies.  These principles are about increasing student learning and helping individuals and departments to reflect on, consider, and discuss their own approach to teaching and learning according to a common definition of good teaching. 

Departments that are building a peer review system should have robust dialogue among their members to develop their working definition of good teaching and use the results of that conversation as a reference point to develop their system.  The goal of these discussions is to establish criteria for good teaching that recognize and respect the diverse instructional styles and approaches instructors use to help students learn. 

  • What do we mean by good teaching in our discipline, department, school, or college? 
  • What are the benchmarks of good teaching in our discipline?  How do they relate to student learning outcomes?
  • What do we believe to be the relationship between teaching and learning?
  • What do we mean when we talk about “optimum student learning” in our courses and discipline?
  • How will we know “good” teaching when we see it?

Other questions for departmental discussion are included below: