Faculty Development

Collaborative Teaching Strategies

Want to engage your students and try some new activities? CSUN faculty have contributed a number of different exercises that can be used in any discipline. The activities are divided into general themes, but many activities can be used in multiple ways.  Experiment and enjoy student engagement!

Collaborating in the Classroom

Exponential Think Pair and Share (.pdf)
As an extension of the traditional "think pair share," students form larger and larger teams to teach each other. 

Four Corners (.pdf)
Allows for a lively, informal debate as students take a corner of the room to agree or disagree on a topic. Watch CSUN Professor Steve Holle provide a brief demonstration. 

Mindmap (.pdf)
Students sketch an idea or concept discussed in class, even if they are not artists.

Networking Activity (.pdf)
Students are given real-life networking scenarios and work in pairs to practice networking.

Placemats (.pdf)
Students create a collage of responses to an instructor prompt--working both individually and in groups. Watch CSUN Professor Steve Holle provide a brief demonstration. 

Reading Through Pictures (.pdf)
Students draw pictures to represent class readings and then discuss their drawings, thus discussing the reading.

Websites to Encourage Class Engagement (.pdf)
Using sites like Poll Everywhere, students answer questions anonymously and interact with each other.

Students as Teachers

Constructive Peer Review (.pdf)
Students learn how to evaluate each others' work in a fun and useful way.

Generating a Product for an External Audience (.pdf)
Students create something (such as a Wikipedia article) that people outside of the class can rate.

Guiding Thoughts on Readings (.pdf)
As they enter the room, students write feedback on large paper and then discuss as a group.

Post Assignment Sharing (.pdf)
Help students understand the "point" of an assignment and allow for discussion throughout the semester.

Sharing with Friends and Family (.pdf)
Students pretend to explain an assignment or project to a friend or family member, demonstrating that they truly understand it.

Ten Ways to Start Discussions (.pdf)
Based on Peter Frederick's article, this guide provides ten strategies to engage students in discussion.

Speaker of the House (.pdf)
One student is selected at random to present, like the speaker of the house, the main points of the day's class.

Community Building

Awards at End of Class (.pdf)
At the end of the semester, students have a mini awards ceremony in the spirit of the Academy Awards, complete with winners' speeches.

Cultivating Organic Traditions (.pdf)
Ideas to establish fun and unique traditions in your classroom: for example if you flash the lights twice, there is a class discussion. 

Encouraging Self Care (.pdf)
Students identify and share stress management techniques.

Establishing Expectations (.pdf)
Help students work together effectively through establishing guidelines together.

Explaining the Rationale for a Collaborative Class (.pdf)
Discuss as a group the benefits of group work.

Speed Meet-and-Greets (.pdf)
Like speed dating, but this is a way for your students to quickly discuss class readings and activities.

Managing Different Communication Styles (.pdf)
How do you communicate with your students and how do they communicate with you? This chart provides an easy self-assessment.

Group Work

Group Names (.pdf) 
In this activity, students collaborate to create a name for their group.

Intentional Group Formation (.pdf)
Students form groups based on their interests.

Group Work Conflict

Watch this video of Frankie Augustin & Whitney Scott discussing how to prevent and respond when students experience group work conflict with a class assignment. 

Discover Your Conflict Style (.pdf)
Students gain self-awareness about their communication tendencies during conflicts.

Checking in with Groups (.pdf) 
These check-points enable the professor to determine if group conflicts are occurring and if assistance is needed.

Self & Peer Evaluations of Group Work 
     Simple Group Evaluation (.pdf)
     Research Paper & Oral Presentation Group Evaluations (.pdf) 

Teaching Tip Videos by CSUN Professors

Faculty Development collaborated with the Building Connections for Success Title V Grant to create videos showcasing CSUN Professors discussing tips for engaging our students in the classroom.

  • Professor Randi Picarelli from Communications shares her strategies for creating an engaging syllabus from the student perspective.
  • The power of field trips! David Wakefield, Professor in Child & Adolescent Development reveals three strategies to help deepen student learning by leaving the walls of your CSUN classroom.
  • Professor Tracy Lachica Buenavista, from Asian American Studies, shares her perspective on the importance of student names; make the effort and see the impact!
  • Ever consider asking your students to use their cell phones to exercise their creativity, critical thinking, & understanding of course content? Professor Theresa White from Africana Studies tells us how!
  • Professor Wendy Yost of Recreation and Tourism Management provides tips for making the most of student participation & engagement in the classroom.
  • A strategy for altering your perspective on grading will improve the process for both you and students is brought to you by Communication Professor John Kephart.
  • Professor Marquita Gammage from Africana Studies highlights how to use group quizzes to foster a learning-centered environment.
  • Professors Whitney Scott and Frankie Augustin talk about how to help students navigate group work conflicts including strategies to prevent conflicts from occurring. 


Making your First Day of Class Engaging

How can you ensure that your students leave the first class session motivated and prepared for success? 

Check out these resources:

Preparing for a Positive First Day of Class: Five Terrific Tips- by Lori Baker-Schena 

Making the First Day of Class Really First Class- by Cynthia Desrochers 

The First Day of Class: A Once in a Semester Opportunity- Faculty Focus Teaching Professor Blog