Effective Teaching Strategies: Six Keys to Classroom Excellence

students working college classroom

What are makes an effective teacher?

This particular list of teaching characteristics appears in an excellent book that is all but unknown in the states, Learning to Teach in Higher Education, by noted scholar Paul Ramsden. In the case of what makes teaching effective, he writes, “…a great deal is known about the characteristics of effective university teaching. It is undoubtedly a complicated matter; there is no indication of one ‘best way,’ but our understanding of its essential nature is both broad and deep.” (p. 88-89). He organizes that essential knowledge into these six principles, unique for the way he relates them to students’ experiences.

1: Interest and explanation – “When our interest is aroused in something, whether it is an academic subject or a hobby, we enjoy working hard at it. We come to feel that we can in some way own it and use it to make sense of the world around us.” (p. 98). Coupled with the need to establish the relevance of content, instructors need to craft explanations that enable students to understand the material. This involves knowing what students understand and then forging connections between what is known and what is new.

2: Concern and respect for students and student learning – Ramsden starts with the negative about which he is assertive and unequivocal. “Truly awful teaching in higher education is most often revealed by a sheer lack of interest in and compassion for students and student learning. It repeatedly displays the classic symptom of making a subject seem more demanding than it actually is. Some people may get pleasure from this kind of masquerade. They are teaching very badly if they do. Good teaching is nothing to do with making things hard. It is nothing to do with frightening students. It is everything to do with benevolence and humility; it always tries to help students feel that a subject can be mastered; it encourages them to try things out for themselves and succeed at something quickly.” (p. 98)

3: Appropriate assessment and feedback – This principle involves using a variety of assessment techniques and allowing students to demonstrate their mastery of the material in different ways. It avoids those assessment methods that encourage students to memorize and regurgitate. It recognizes the power of feedback to motivate more effort to learn.

4: Clear goals and intellectual challenge – Effective teachers set high standards for students. They also articulate clear goals. Students should know up front what they will learn and what they will be expected to do with what they know.

5: Independence, control and active engagement – “Good teaching fosters [a] sense of student control over learning and interest in the subject matter.” (p. 100). Good teachers create learning tasks appropriate to the student’s level of understanding. They also recognize the uniqueness of individual learners and avoid the temptation to impose “mass production” standards that treat all learners as if they were exactly the same. “It is worth stressing that we know that students who experience teaching of the kind that permits control by the learner not only learn better, but that they enjoy learning more.” (p. 102)

6: Learning from students – “Effective teaching refuses to take its effect on students for granted. It sees the relation between teaching and learning as problematic, uncertain and relative. Good teaching is open to change: it involves constantly trying to find out what the effects of instruction are on learning, and modifying the instruction in the light of the evidence collected.” (p. 102)

Reference: Ramsden, P. (1992). Learning to Teach in Higher Education. New York: Routledge.

Excerpted from Effective Teaching: Six Keys to Success, The Teaching Professor, March 2006.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. R Hirt

    Thank you. These points are precarious factors, a mentor should not overlook nor take it lightly.

  2. Pete Holden

    I might also add non-judgmental class control and discipline along with strict time management so the class period has no "dead time."

    1. Bhawana.

      My point of view is that – a strict time management strategy would be – "regimentation" and would not have scope for the student to participate in the learning process.

  3. suchita kale

    These Points are very helpful to all teacher and should follow these in their teaching work

  4. deskjett6

    .In my opinion students will thrive in an environment that is structured with expectations. These six points are the blueprint for effective teaching no matter what the grade level. A well-managed classroom can achieve so much more if there is structure.

  5. Nchimu

    In my view, all six are very useful and I could relate to all one way or another. From experience, having exemplary conduct outside the classroom is also very vital for teaching success.

  6. Hafeni Job

    The 6 keys are very important and any teacher can use some of them or even intergrate the whole set. My question is, can someone please help in giving the difference between teaching and effective teaching?

  7. anwar

    these 6 keys are very important in teaching process. thank alot

  8. Phylis P.Lumayna

    THANK YOU FOR POSTING THESE KEYS TO CLASSROOM EXCELLENCE.I believe that it serves as a guide to those students who are taking up Education course.It plays a vital role in teaching profession.

  9. bipin

    its really worthy and educating to the new teacher and it will guide them to further in their profession.

  10. KnowledgeSeeker

    The concept of learning styles puts an emphasis on the learner, making teachers rethink their insctruction to try to maximize student achievement. The learning styles theories should be developed to a point that every student would have the right to have an option on how they access new learning material and how they are evaluated. http://www.androidfamily.net

  11. elle

    Really good view something for me to look at when i am looking for strategies for teaching

  12. Dr Dharmasa

    It is (100% teacher's-direct role [Indirect role Management+Supporting staff etc]+ 100% Students[ Indirect role Perent+Relative + Friends]) leads 80 to 90 % gain expertise on the subject.



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