Best of Teaching Tips Now Available

September 6, 2016

A new book, Small Teaching, written by James Lang (2016) describes the strategies of small ball, in which coaches build highly successful teams by mastering small elements of the game and focusing on the development of fundamental skills in players rather than scouting for star players. Lang argues if instructors attend to fundamental principles of learning and make small changes that facilitate learning to their courses, they can transform their classes into more effective learning experiences. 

While reading Lang’s book, I was struck by the similarity between his main thesis and my goal when I write teaching tips for CUTLA. The first CUTLA teaching tips were short, simple suggestions that might improve student engagement with courses at UWF. With few exceptions, the teaching tips describe small changes that should not require a large amount of time to prepare, implement, or (in the case of assignments) grade. In every case, the suggestion is evidence-based. That is, evidence from peer-reviewed research indicates that the learning activity benefits student learning. I now write longer tips so I can also describe the scholarly evidence supporting the benefits for student learning claimed for these ideas. This evidence is drawn from peer reviewed publications for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning or basic laboratory research on memory and cognition.

This fall, CUTLA celebrates 10 years of writing and distributing teaching tips. Over the years, various people have told me stories about their “stash” of favorite teaching tips In celebration of this 10-year milestone of writing over 200 tips, I selected 80 tips for a compilation of “best” tips. Some “evergreen” tips and have been distributed more than once. I included other tips based on comments from faculty who read and said they had used the tip in their class. I included other because many visitors to the CUTLA web site accessed the tip in the archive. If I neglected one of your favorites in this collection, let me know. Perhaps I will compile a Volume 2.   


You can find the collection on the CUTLA site as a PDF download ( Many thanks to Gabby Bustamante, who did a fine job assembling the many files into a single, attractive document.


 Lang, J. M. (2016). Small teaching: Everyday lessons from the science of learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.  

tmd 09/06/16