Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Strategies for Teaching

Whether an instructor teaches a seminar, lecture, or other type of course, they have at their disposal a variety of proven strategies for leading classroom discussions, improving lectures, cultivating collaborative learning, and teaching large classes. They might consider active learning, a research-supported method that can lead to positive learning outcomes. Instructors can reserve the Technology-Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) classroom at Yale to support this type of student-centered teaching and learning. They can also consider team-based learning and digital learning approaches. Through effective lecture, discussion, group work, and more, instructors can invite their students to engage in the learning process.

Growing from developments in adult, cognitive, and educational research, active learning responds to traditional lecture formats with more engaged activities that invite students to participate in learning, including developing conceptual awareness, applying knowledge through experience, and transferring skills across contexts.
The Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) classroom is a resource at Yale University that can facilitate a dynamic learning environment. This classroom is located at 17 Hillhouse Avenue Room 101 and is equipped with round tables for small group work, multiple projectors, screens, whiteboards, and a podium with the ability to project all around the rooom.
Class discussions can be utilized in seminar and lecture courses, and their variety allows instructors to fit particular strategies to class needs. This flexibility stems largely from grounding in Vygotskyian social learning theory, which emphasizes knowledge and conceptual gain through peer-to-peer dialogue.
Case-based learning (CBL) is an established approach used across disciplines where students apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios, promoting higher levels of cognition. In CBL classrooms, students typically work in groups on case studies, or stories involving one or more characters and/or scenarios. The cases present a disciplinary problem or problems for which students devise solutions under the guidance of the instructor.
Digital resources can be powerful learning tools, provided they are used to support known student learning processes and clear learning goals. It is the collaborative and social elements of learning, rather than the depth or flexibility of content often associated with digital resources, that positively impact the learning process.
Lecture classes are often characterized by monologue and slide presentations, typically in large halls with auditorium-style fixed seating that privileges content delivery over interaction and complex learning. Instructors can consider different approaches to lecture that introduce more active and participatory components, thereby enhancing higher orders of thinking and learning during class.
Team-based learning (TBL) is a pedagogical strategy that engages student knowledge through individual testing and group collaboration. Following individual answers, students join teams and work through problems, appealing when they are incorrect. This process motivates students by holding them accountable to themselves and one another, while introducing them to a variety of thought processes devoted to a single problem.
In a flipped classroom, material typically explored in lecture is delivered outside of class through media like video lectures or digital modules. Class time then focuses on developing knowledge through active learning strategies like discussion or group activities. Flipping the classroom has been shown to improve students' conceptual grasp of content beyond memorization and basic knowledge, and to improve the diversity and inclusivity of the classroom climate.
Large classes can offer an overwhelming range of student diversity and expectations. While lecturing presents material to the entire class, research suggests that active learning and/or flipped components significantly strengthen student performance. These strategies create smaller groups where peers can grapple with deeper conceptual understanding and pause to think critically about ideas.
Collaborative learning can be a powerful strategy in the classroom. Group work can help students uncover and address gaps and misconceptions in knowledge, further develop their conceptual frameworks, improve their public reasoning and team-based skills, and free instructors to help students pursue higher order thinking.