Evidence Based Teaching Strategies

Communication: early and often

One of the first steps on the pathway to a successful semester is to send a “welcome message” to your class. This welcome message should go out between 1-7 days prior to your class starting. Communicating early and often allows your students to know your expectations and their responsibilities; clarity is particularly important in hybrid and virtual courses. Keep in mind, often students are in multiple classes, with other modalities, so clarity and consistency in communication regarding your course is crucial for ensuring students stay on track. Communication is also a way to establish a consistent presence of your course in students’ work. Regular and consistent communication can build trust and open the door for them to reach out to you when they need support or further clarification. 


Build relationships with your students and foster community.

Relationships are the heart of Student Success and more to the point, to learning. Getting to know your students as individuals, whether in office hours, scheduled appointments, feedback conversations, or reflective work in the classroom, will help you know how each of them are doing as the semester goes along. When students feel heard and seen, they can more easily take risks, learn, and engage with trust and openness. Additionally, help facilitate student to student communication. When students believe someone in class will notice their absence they tend to show up and engage more.


Be flexible.

During the past two years, life has often presented us and our students with interruptions, oftentimes, unexpected and challenging.  Keeping a focus on your learning goals for the students will help you decide which course requirements are essential and which ones are more open to flexibility. The essential question should be how can we help students learn the material and be successful rather than a strict adherence to our established deadlines. Rigor can be accomplished with flexibility. Assume all students are well intentioned and want to succeed; when and where can you provide grace to your students to ensure they can learn. Additionally, recognize the limited attention span of both modern age and modality of communication and life interactions.


Leverage student strengths through your teaching

Students bring their whole selves as well as their life experience, not just their intellects, to our courses. Know that, while trying to learn your content, our students bring with them life the outside world to your classrooms. Teaching students to be global citizens and critical thinkers is about cultivating connections from content to their daily lives. Students learn more deeply and engage more fervently when course material is connected to their lives and the things they care about.  


  • Include and incorporate Caring Connections messages and resources as they apply and relate to your course assignments, deadlines, and projects
  • Rather than use traditional assignments, when appropriate, give students an opportunity to choose how your content applies to their lives for a given assignment.
  • This may include tying the material to the pandemic, or the national conversation on racial justice, or other national/international concerns. 

Consider the Mission of the Community College 

Students come to us for a multitude of reasons. Being an open access institution means that our students do not have to demonstrate academic admission criteria, we serve the community. Community colleges exist to “remove barriers to access for those segments of society traditionally underserved by higher education.” (George B. Vaughn, The Community College Story) Our mission is to help those who may have previously been unsuccessful in educational settings.  President Paul Dale stated in 2016, “Teaching, it’s not all about content and competencies but also an opportunity to close the educational attainment gap @mcccd.” Teaching students how to learn and how to be successful in higher education is as important as the content we teach. For students to succeed, we have to help them navigate the educational system for lifelong learning and future success.


  • Include and incorporate Caring Connections messages and resources as they apply and relate to your course assignments, deadlines, and projects
  • When assigning reading expectations consider providing strategies for effective reading and notetaking. (Cornell Notes or Active Reading Strategies
  • Provide students with opportunities for active and collaborative learning experiences (strategies identified by CCSSE)
  • Consider giving one amnesty coupon to each student (document viewable by Maricopa employees only)