Record Google Hangouts on Air via YouTube Live

Google Hangouts is being deprecated over 2018 as Google updates to Google Hangouts Meet. However, you can still record classic Hangouts via Hangouts on Air/Youtube live.

  1. Before you begin using Hangouts on Air, you will need to verify your YouTube account. Account verification takes 24 hours.
  2. Once your account has been verified, follow this link to create a Hangout on Air via YouTube live.
  3. Under Basic Info, create a Title, and pick a Start Time.
  4. Be sure that the Type option is set to Quick (using Google Hangouts on Air).
  5. In the privacy settings drop down menu on the right, select Public, Unlisted, or Private.
    • An unlisted event is viewable to anyone with a link to the event, while a private event is viewable only by people you share the event with.
  6. Click the Go Live Now or Create Event button when you are ready to start or save your event.
  7. If you need to share a future Hangout’s details with participants, click the Start Hangout on Air button and add participants. You can then leave the Hangout and come back to it at its scheduled start time.

NOTE: Your recorded video will upload to your YouTube channel once you leave the Hangout on Air.

For more resources, visit Google Support.

This article was last updated on Sep 22, 2023 @ 9:33 am.

Create a Video Quiz

Back to MediaSpaceTutorials

Use the quiz tool to add quiz questions to your MediaSpace videos.

NOTE: Scores from video quizzes are only available from MediaSpace. They can be downloaded as a CSV or printable file, but they do not automatically export to Canvas or other software. Important: ad-blocking browser extensions can result in anonymous quiz submissions. To be safe, advise students to open the video quiz in a private/incognito browser window, which will disable their extensions.

Create a Video Quiz

  1. Log in to
  2. Click Add New > Video Quiz.
  3. On the Media Selection page, click the Select button from a video in your My Media list.
  4. Ensure the cube icon is selected on the new page that opens.

Overview of the Quiz Editor

The Quiz Editor has three main parts:

  • Under Details, you can modify the quiz name, welcome message, allow download of question list, and turn instructions on or off.
  • Under Scores, you can set or modify scoring options.
  • Under Experience, you can set or modify the quiz taking options. This is where you can choose whether or not to allow users to change their answers, skip and come back to questions and “seek forward” in the video.

Add Questions

  1. Click the play button in the video player, and pause the video where you would like to add a question, or move your cursor though the timeline below the video.
  2. Click the hexagonal plus icon in the player screen to add a question where the video is paused.
  3. Select the type of question. Mediaspace offers:
    • Multiple Choice – Question with only one correct answer

      1. Enter your question in the Add a Question Here box.
      2. Add the answer to the Add the CORRECT Answer Here box.
      3. Enter at least one incorrect answer in the Add Additional Answer Here box.
      4. Click the hexagonal plus icon to add additional incorrect answers.
      5. Click the light bulb icon to add a Hint to the question or an explanation to Why the answer is correct.
      6. Click the white icon of two arrows in the upper left corner to shuffle the question answers. Otherwise, the correct answer will always appear first.
      7. Click the Save button when you are finished creating your question.
    • True/False – A question with only 2 options

      1. Enter your question in the Add a Question Here box.
      2. Add the answer to the TRUE box.
      3. Enter an incorrect answer in the FALSE box.
      4. Click the light bulb icon to add a Hint to the question or an explanation to Why the answer is correct.
      5. Click the Save button when you are finished creating your question.
    • Reflection Point – A video pause combined with text, but no response required

      1. Enter your text in the Add a reflection point text here box.
      2. Click the Save button when you are finished creating your reflection point.
    • Open-Ended Question – Answer the question with your own words

      1. Enter your text in the Add an Open Question Here box.
      2. Click the Save button when you are finished creating your question.
  1. Click the blue cube icon in the timeline if you need to edit your question.
  2. Click the eye icon below the video player  to preview your quiz.
  3. Click the blue Done button when you have finished creating the quiz.
  4. Click Go to Media to view your finished video quiz.

Move a Question

  1. Click and drag the question icon in the toolbar to move a question.
  2. Click Save in the question editor to save the new location.

Preview a Quiz

  1. From the Quiz Editor, click the eye icon.
  2. In the window that pops up, begin the quiz by clicking the play button in the video player.
  3. Read the instructions, and click Continue.
  4. When you reach a question, click an answer and Continue. Click Skip for Now as needed.
  5. Click Submit once you are finished.
  6. Click Done
  7. Click the Close button to exit the quiz previewer.

This article was last updated on Mar 8, 2024 @ 3:05 pm.

Log in to MediaSpace

Back to MediaSpace Tutorials

Learn how to log in to MediaSpace, PSU’s streaming media server.

  1. Browse to
  2. Select PSU User.
  3. Select Login.
  4. On the PSU Single Sign-On page, enter your Odin username and password, then confirm with Duo.


This article was updated on May 7, 2024 @ 1:43 pm.

Encouraging Academic Integrity through Course Design

Academic integrity is not only about holding students to high standards and creating consistent expectations through course policies. More fundamentally, it’s about helping students find the value in facing learning challenges and rising to meet them. Academic integrity develops foundational skills for ethical growth, as well as skills for fair and responsible behavior in society and the workplace. Also, preserving academic integrity in higher education preserves the integrity of the degrees it issues.

Students share faculty concerns about academic integrity and social responsibility. An inventory conducted across 23 institutions found majorities of both students and campus professionals “agreed that personal and academic integrity should be a major focus of their institution” and “strongly agreed that developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning should be a major institutional focus” (O’Neil, 2013). Faculty and students are partners in the belief that academic integrity and social responsibility are important aspects of a well rounded education.

Building Community in Your Course

Setting the tone for your course helps clarify expectations early on and can help prevent academic misconduct. The key is a community-building approach that avoids an adversarial relationship with students. This can be tough, but the rewards are tremendous. Community building encourages students to persevere and take risks when they may otherwise have considered a shortcut. Students who understand the reasoning behind your methods are more likely to abide by your expectations and transfer them to future learning situations.

Why Student Integrity Lapses

By aiming to understand where students’ motivations reside, we can turn a violation of academic integrity into a learning opportunity. Students live complex lives. Their reasons for making poor choices may not be simple, calculated, or even intentional.

So why do students cheat on tests, plagiarize writing, copy homework, etc.? In an interview, James Lang, the author of Cheating Lessons, noted that “cheating is an inappropriate response to a learning environment that’s not working for the student” (Golden, 2013). Understanding students’ motivations will help you know how to proceed when a violation occurs.

  • They don’t find peers and faculty who value academic integrity. Students aware of peers cheating or faculty ignoring cheating are more likely to assume that cheating is necessary to succeed. Similarly, schools that have no honor code reported nearly twice as much cheating as those with honor codes (McCabe, 2005).
  • They want a competitive edge. Students who focus on getting the grade they want, gaining entrance into a competitive program, or pleasing parents or mentors may choose a shortcut toward that goal. Conversely, students who focus on growth, improvement, and mastery are less likely to cheat (Lang, 2013).
  • They haven’t been taught to accurately cite research. Many students enter college having never been adequately taught how to conduct research and incorporate sources into their writing. They may have a vague idea of what plagiarism is — but accurately paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing borrowed information requires skills they may not have mastered, causing them to inadvertently commit plagiarism.
  • They are ill equipped to face the challenges of college. Whether it’s poor time management, too many commitments, or family emergencies, students often find themselves with work due before they’re prepared to complete it with quality. To exacerbate the issue, many students are afraid to contact their instructors about these issues or ask for help until it’s too late.

Teaching to Encourage Academic Integrity

As faculty, we need to collectively look in the mirror and realize we probably contribute to the cheating problem. Therefore we are at least partially responsible for fixing it. Faculty members are clearly a key to achieving academic integrity, because they are in the classrooms and dealing with students every day (McCabe et al., 2012, p. 144).

Your syllabus is a contract between you and your students, and is often students’ introduction to your expectations. It’s important to specifically state your policies on academic misconduct and links to the official PSU Student Code of Conduct section on academic dishonesty. Your statement can be brief:

“Academic integrity is a vital part of the educational experience at PSU. The PSU Student Code of Conduct lays out the university’s policy on academic dishonesty. A confirmed violation of that Code in this course will result in failure of the course.”

You’ll help students succeed if you encourage them to consider — from the first day of class — your course requirements and how to meet them. The Center for Teaching and Learning at UC Berkeley developed an academic success assignment that prompts students to break down tasks to meet their goals for a class. This primes students to practice behaviors that will lead them to meet those goals.

Meta-teaching is “teaching about teaching,” a practice that can help any instructor be more mindful about their own practice. Overtly practicing meta-teaching with your students is a powerful way to include them and promote academic integrity. Meta-teaching improves metacognition in students, but also helps them understand the reasoning behind your methods — which encourages them to internalize those methods and carry them into future learning.

Meta-teaching can be as simple as explaining why a certain policy or practice is important to you as a teacher or scholar. It can also be a deeper part of learning, where students are encouraged to analyze the why behind your teaching practice and how that practice is intended to engage them.

One example of meta-teaching is from a class where the instructor uses innovative grading. During the first week, the instructor defines formative and summative assessment for students and explains why she chooses to avoid summative assessment until the end of the term.

When students are motivated to learn, they have no desire to cheat or take shortcuts. When deciding whether or not to cheat, students often ask three questions (Murdock et al., 2006):

  • What is my purpose?
  • Can I do this task?
  • What are the costs associated with cheating?

Students who understand why coursework matters, what steps they should take for success, and what the consequences are for cheating are more likely to engage ethically in the class. When courses are built around problems, questions, and challenges rather than with the goal of covering content, students are more likely to be curious and motivated to complete the work themselves. Similarly, helping students connect the coursework to their own lives and interests will spark greater intrinsic motivation.

Students are intrinsically motivated to do well in their courses when they have a positive relationship with the instructor and content, when they’re given choices about how and what to learn, and when they have the resources they need to succeed.

Because you will often never meet your online students in person, it can be a challenge to make positive connections that encourage ethical academic behavior — but it can be done. The editors of Distance Education Report (2016) detail seven techniques that foster academic integrity in online classes:

  • Set expectations.
  • Build relationships with students.
  • Help students transfer face-to-face classroom norms to the online environment.
  • Keep groups small.
  • Use frequent and varied assignments.
  • Use technology judiciously.
  • Allow opportunities to play and explore.

Above all, remember to plan your course to foster engagement.

Turnitin as a Teaching and Learning Tool

Turnitin is a PSU-supported platform that allows students and faculty to determine whether student work is original or borrowed, and whether plagiarism may have occurred. Turnitin alone cannot determine whether academic integrity has been violated, but it assists faculty and students in deciding whether a text meets the standards of documenting borrowed information.

While Turnitin is designed to detect plagiarism, it can also help students learn. With appropriate planning, you can give students ownership over their use of Turnitin, helping them improve their ability to incorporate borrowed information.

  • Include a statement (such as this) about how you’ll use Turnitin in your syllabus so students know what to expect.
  • Introduce Turnitin to your students as a way for them to improve, not as a policing tool. Demonstrate how it works.
  • Build in enough time for multiple drafts. This will allow students to use Turnitin to detect potential plagiarism and make corrections.

Dealing with Academic Integrity Concerns

If you suspect academic misconduct, your best resource is the Director of Conduct and Community Standards in the Dean of Student Life Office.

  • It’s the only central program on campus that can track concerns, patterns of behavior, and incidents of academic misconduct.
  • It’s the only office on campus that offers educational engagement opportunities for sanctions that foster accountability.
  • It has knowledgeable staff experienced in academic integrity concerns and new or developing trends in academic misconduct.

Distance Education Report. (2014). Seven Ways Online Faculty Can Promote Academic Integrity.

Golden, S. (2013, September 11). ‘Cheating Lessons’. Inside Higher Ed.

Lang, J. M. (2013). Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty. Harvard University Press.

McCabe, D. L. (2005). It takes a village: academic dishonesty & educational opportunity. Liberal Education, 91(3), 26.

McCabe, D. L., Butterfield, K. D., & Treviño, L. K. (2012). Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do about It. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Murdock, T., & Anderman, E. (2006). Motivational Perspectives on Student Cheating: Toward an Integrated Model of Academic Dishonesty. Educational Psychologist, 41(3), 129–145.

O’Neill, N. (2013). Infusing Personal Responsibility into the Curriculum and Cocurriculum: Campus Examples. New Directions for Higher Education, 2013(164), 49–71.

Learn More Elsewhere

Understanding Assessment Methods

Assessment is discovering students’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, competencies, and habits of mind, and comparing them to what’s expected as a result of participating in your course and in a program of study. The desired state is to discover these things soon enough to redirect a course of study. We call this formative assessment.

Be transparent in your expectations for students by placing learning outcomes on each course syllabus, and sharing program outcomes on all program websites.

Quality Learning Outcomes

An outcome must be measurable, meaningful, and manageable. It specifies what you want the student to know or do. A good outcome statement also uses active verbs. An outcome has three components:

  • Audience (A) = Person doing or expressing
  • Behavior (B) = What audience will do or report
  • Condition (C) = What audience needs to do to succeed

Examples of learning outcomes:

  • Students in an introductory science course will be able to recall at least five of the seven periods of the periodic table.
  • Students in a psychology program will design a research experiment to carry out in their capstone course.
  • Students in a service-learning leadership program will demonstrate increased leadership skills by completing a leadership skills inventory, as indicated by a score of at least 80 percent.

A helpful and frequently used resource for writing learning outcomes is Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Skills. It associates verbs with a ranking of thinking skills, moving from less complex at the knowledge level to more complex at the evaluation level. Make sure to set the level of the outcome to match the level at which you teach the content.

Assessment Techniques

With so many ways to measure what students know and can do, why limit yourself to just one or two? Here are just a few assessment techniques:

  • Course and homework assignments
  • Multiple choice examinations and quizzes
  • Essay examinations
  • Term papers and reports
  • Observations of field work, internship performance, service learning, or clinical experiences
  • Research projects
  • Class discussions
  • Artistic performances
  • Personal essays
  • Journal entries
  • Computational exercises and problems
  • Case studies

Angelo and Cross (1993) outline the main characteristics of classroom assessment techniques:

  • Learner centered. Focus on the observation and improvement of learning — e.g prior knowledge, misconceptions, or misunderstandings students may have over course content.
  • Instructor directed. Decide what to assess, how to assess, and how to respond to what you find from assessment.
  • Formative. Use assessment feedback to allow students to improve, rather than assigning grades. Feedback is ongoing and iterative, giving you and students useful information for evaluation and improvement.
  • Mutually beneficial. Students reinforce their grasp of the course concepts and strengthen their own skills at self-assessment, while you increase your teaching focus.
  • Context situated. Assessment targets the particular needs and priorities of you and your students, as well as the discipline in which they are applied.
  • Best practice based. Build assessment on current standards to make learning and teaching more systematic, flexible, and frequent.
    • Assessing before instruction helps you tailor class activities to student needs.
    • Assessment during a class helps you ensure students are learning the content satisfactorily.
    • Using classroom assessment technique immediately after instruction helps reinforce the material and uncover any misunderstanding before it becomes a barrier to progress.

Assessment Tools

The two most common assessment tools are rubrics and tests.


Rubrics are used to assess capstone projects, collections of student work (e.g., portfolios), direct observations of student behavior, evaluations of performance, external juried review of student projects, photo and music analysis, and student performance, to name a few. Rubrics help standardize assessment of more subjective learning outcomes, such as critical thinking or interpersonal skills, and are easy for practitioners to use and understand. Rubrics clearly articulate the criteria used to evaluate students.

You can create a rubric from scratch or use a pre-existing one (as-is or modified) if it fits your context. Start with the end in mind: What do you want students to know or do as a result of your effort? What evidence do you need to observe to know that students got it? These questions lead to the main components of a rubric:

  • A description of a task students are expected to produce or perform
  • A scale (and scoring) that describes the level of mastery (e.g., exceed expectation, meets expectation, doesn’t meet expectation)
  • Components or dimensions students must meet in completing assignments or tasks (e.g., types of skills, knowledge, etc.)
  • A description of the performance quality (performance descriptor) of the components or dimensions at each level of mastery

Steps in rubric development:

  • Identify the outcome areas, also known as components or dimensions. What must students demonstrate (skills, knowledge, behaviors, etc.)?
  • Determine the scale. Identify how many levels are needed to assess performance components or dimensions. Decide what score to allocate for each level.
  • Develop performance descriptors at each scale level. Use Bloom’s taxonomy as a starting point. Start at end points and define their descriptors. (For example, define “does not meet expectations” and “exceeds expectations.”) Develop scoring overall or by dimension.
  • Train raters and pilot test. For consistent and reliable rating, raters need to be familiar with the rubric and need to interpret and apply the rubric in the same way. Train them by pilot-testing the rubric with a few sample papers and/or get feedback from your colleagues (and students). Revise the rubric as needed.

Pre-existing rubrics:


There is no one way to develop a classroom-level test. However, there are commonly agreed upon standards of quality that apply to all test development. The higher the stakes of the test used for decision-making (e.g., grades in course, final exams, and placement exams), the greater attention you must pay to these three standards:

  • Does the test measure what you intend?
  • Does the test adequately represent or sample the outcomes, content, skills, abilities, or knowledge you will measure?
  • Will the test results be useful in informing your teaching and give sufficient evidence of student learning?

In selecting a test, take care to match its content with the course curriculum. The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (1999), have a strict set of guidelines and apply “most directly to standardized measures generally recognized as ‘tests’ such as measures of ability, aptitude, achievement, attitudes, interests, personality, cognitive functioning, and mental health, it may also be usefully applied in varying degrees to a broad range of less formal assessment techniques” (p. 3). These are the general procedures for test development laid out in the Standards:

  • Specify the purpose of the test and the inferences to be drawn.
  • Develop frameworks describing the knowledge and skills to be tested.
  • Build test specifications.
  • Create potential test items and scoring rubrics.
  • Review and pilot test items.
  • Evaluate the quality of items.


American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education. (1999). Standards for educational and psychological testing. American Educational Research Association.

Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. Patricia. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques : a handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Learn More Elsewhere


Cultivating Student Motivation

Fostering Student Choice and Decision Making

Those who do the work do the learning. If this maxim is true, how can we structure our classrooms so students have the power to make important choices about their learning without creating unnecessary chaos? How can they do more of the work while still relying on us for guidance?

When we give students the opportunity to make decisions about their learning process, they are more likely to form deep connections and practice higher-level thinking skills. According to Deci and Ryan as cited in Stefanou et al. (2004), students need “autonomy, competence, and relatedness…in social contexts” (p. 98) to learn and achieve self-determination. Students must actively construct their learning within intentional, social contexts. Students who feel they have some freedom over their learning are more likely to set “realistic goals, [determine] appropriate actions that accomplish goals, and [assess] progress toward the goals” whereas students who feel powerless to make their own decisions “lack volitional strategies and behaviors” (p. 98).

Choice alone does not guarantee student motivation. Students need the freedom to make choices that relate to their own lives and clearly connect to their immediate goals. Motivation theorists Patall et al. (2010) explain:

... choice may only be effective when it successfully satisfies fundamental needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. As such, having choice or the act of selecting alone is not enough to support motivation. Rather, choices need to be relevant to students’ interests and goals, provide a moderate number of options of an intermediate level of complexity, and be congruent with other family and cultural values in order to effectively support motivation (p. 898).

Because the types of choices we present to students significantly affect their level of motivation, consider how students might contribute to the choices provided in your class. Perhaps you provide two or three choices with an option for students to create their own proof of learning with your approval, for example.

Promoting Student Autonomy in Your Class

When examining the structure of your course, how might you incorporate one or more of the following approaches to promote student autonomy and greater motivation? Your answer may depend on your goals for the class and how you want students to transfer knowledge from your course into other contexts. Don’t feel you need to redesign your whole course or use all these ideas. Try out one or two, then make adjustments.

Students can demonstrate their learning through writing essays or reports, creating videos or podcasts, curating a portfolio, taking tests and quizzes, building models, giving presentations, etc. Provide a menu of choices for students to decide how they’d like to demonstrate their learning.

Students learn a lot from considering criteria to evaluate their work. Creating their own assessment criteria helps students think critically about the content they’re learning and how to illustrate that learning. Use student-created test questions, rubrics, or reflection questions when making your assessments.

Studies have shown that students retain less than 10% of what they hear during a lecture. By contrast, students retain 75% of what they learn by doing and 90% of the information they teach to others (Duderstadt, 2002, pp. 64–65).

    • Peer-to-Peer Teaching: when an expert student teaches a novice student. Peer tutors, teaching assistants, and mixed-skill cooperative learning groups are all examples of peer-to-peer teaching.
    • Peer Instruction: a “research-based teaching method that leverages the power of social interaction to drive learning” (Schell, 2013). Peer Instruction works best when students have been exposed to the content before class. Class time is spent clarifying the concepts through a seven-step process:
      1. Deliver a mini-lecture about an important concept.
      2. Pose a question.
      3. Give students time to think individually.
      4. Collect responses privately.
      5. Have students turn to a neighbor and try to convince them of their answer.
      6. Ask students to commit to a final answer, and collect those responses.
      7. Reveal the responses and the correct answer (if one exists), and facilitate a class-wide discussion about the answer and the reasoning behind it.
    • Jigsaw Teaching: a cooperative learning technique where each student studies one segment of the course content and teaches that segment to the other members of their peer group. The Jigsaw Classroom defines all ten steps.

Open Pedagogy is the practice of teachers using Open Educational Resources (OER) and students completing openly shareable, non-disposable assignments. Non-disposable assignments live on beyond the course and can be used by others in the future. They have an authentic audience and purpose beyond meeting the requirements of the course.

Implementing Flipped Learning

What is a flipped classroom? Flipped Learning moves content delivery such as lectures, readings, and other forms of information to students’ individual learning spaces so classroom time is spent engaging with the material in more active, applied ways. Students come to class with at least an introduction to the concepts they can use in creative ways, with their peers and instructor there to support learning. This interactive class time may take the form of group work, experimentation, debate, project work, scenario analysis, in-class presentations, service-learning, problem solving, etc.

According to the Flipped Learning Network, The Four Pillars of FLIP are as follows:

    • Flexible Environment: Group work, individual study, and project-based learning are all supported in a flexible learning environment.
    • Learning Culture: Learner-centered, the flipped classroom includes students in the active construction of knowledge through active, applied practice using new skills and concepts.
    • Intentional Content: The instructor carefully selects content and curates it in text, video, and other formats “to maximize classroom time in order to adopt methods of student-centered, active learning strategies.”
    • Professional Educator: In a flipped classroom, the instructor is a reflective practitioner, examining their own practices with the aim to improve them. The instructor observes students at work in order to provide feedback and guide them toward greater understanding of the content.

Duderstadt, J. J., Atkins, D.E., Van Houweling, D. E., & Van Houweling, D. (2002). Higher Education in the Digital Age: Technology Issues and Strategies for American Colleges and Universities. American Council on Education.

Patall, E. A., Harris, C., & Wynn, S. R. (2010). The Effectiveness and Relative Importance of Choice in the Classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 896–915.

Schell, J. (2013, August 26). The 6 most common questions about using Peer Instruction, answered. Turn to Your Neighbor.

Stefanou, C. R., Perencevich, K. C., DiCintio, M., & Turner, J. C. (2004). Supporting Autonomy in the Classroom: Ways Teachers Encourage Decision Making and Ownership. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 97–110.

Active Lecture and Discussion Techniques

Research has long found that students often don’t retain most lecture material. For example, Donald Bligh reported that when students were not quizzed until three weeks after a lecture, they retained less than 10 percent (1998, pp. 46–47). Even more problematic is evidence that while all students learn better in an active learning environment (a classroom that replaces lecture with discussion, group work, and other forms of student-centered interactivity), lectures favor students who are “white, male, and affluent” (Paul, 2015). The challenge to create an active lecture is really the challenge to help students connect with the material in a meaningful way so they remember it and can use it in future contexts.

Creating a successful, engaging lecture requires:

  • A plan: What specific objective do you want to meet during this lecture? How does this lecture build from past and into and future lectures?
  • Focus: What three to five points will help to break the objective into manageable concepts or skills? How is this lecture unique, breaking away from their reading and other learning materials?
  • Engagement: How can you transform your lecture from a passive experience to an active one for students? How might they participate in the lecture?
  • Visuals or props: Which images, videos, or physical specimens will help students connect with the material?
  • Breaks and check-ins: How much time will your lecture require with breaks for questions and check-in periods for understanding?

Activating Your Lectures

When planning your lectures, consider how you might incorporate one of these active learning strategies to help students make meaningful connections to the content.

Use questions, stories, or problems to engage students in the lecture. If students perceive the topic as a problem to solve, a story they can relate to, or a question to find the answer to, they are more likely to pay attention.

If students are able to relate course material to their lives or their community, they will be more likely to remember and transfer these concepts to future situations. Develop questions and scenarios that help students make these connections, or ask students to develop them as part of class participation.

About every 10 to 20 minutes, when students’ minds will naturally begin to wander, build in ways for students to participate. Ask students to turn to each other and discuss, answer questions, or create models of what they’re learning in text or image form. Have them move around, go to the board, and create examples of what they’re learning (Wiersma, 2012).

Instead of using class time for lecture, faculty teaching flipped classes engage students in active learning assignments during class sessions and assign lecture material for homework.

Creating Active Discussions

How can classroom discussions be focused, engaged, and productive? Finding relevant ways to encourage student engagement without it feeling like wasted time can sometimes be a challenge. These techniques can help organize effective discussions.

Sometimes discussion happens as a full class, but often it’s a good idea for students to work in pairs or small groups. This ensures that every student has an opportunity to fully engage with the course content. It also allows students who may not otherwise participate (such as introverts or students who are new to the subject matter) to connect with the content and their peers. An effective group size is no larger than four students, but it’s okay if groups are slightly larger as long as every student has a specific role to play in the group. Roles may include notetaker, presenter, researcher, timekeeper, facilitator, artist, mathematician, summarizer, Devil’s Advocate, etc. (Barkley et al., 2014, p. 52).

Keeping the objectives of your class session in mind, what open-ended questions might guide students to reaching the goals of the session so that discussion is a process of discovery for them? For example, if an objective in a Pacific Northwest geography class is to understand patterns of human migration to the west, a guiding question to help spark discussion might be, “What factors are currently motivating people to move to Portland?” Questions like this promote critical thinking and encourage curiosity, so that even if students don’t know fact-based answers to that question, they will be willing to explore possible answers as they seek out facts to shape their understanding.

Liberating Structures are highly structured activities that promote relational coordination and trust. Liberating Structures are especially useful to establish class cohesion and a positive learning climate. The website Liberating Structures provides a detailed explanation of what Liberating Structures are and how to use them in your classroom with small or large groups to encourage team decision-making and leadership.

Checking for Understanding

When using lecture or discussion in the classroom, it’s often difficult to tell what students have learned without testing them. Quick and easy formative assessments can gauge what students know without burdening you or them with a formal test. Edutopia’s Todd Finley outlined 53 techniques for engaging students during a lecture or class discussion while checking for understanding.

Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2014). Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. John Wiley & Sons.

Bligh, D. A. (1998). What’s the Use of Lectures?. United Kingdom: Intellect.

Paul, A. M. (2015, September 13). Are College Lectures Unfair?. The New York Times.

Wiersma, A. (2012, September 6). Crafting an Engaging Lecture. Inside Higher Ed.

Engaging Students in Large Classes

Large classes pose unique challenges for instructors and students alike. Active, personalized learning is often best — but difficult in a large class. Structuring your course in specific ways can make a big difference in learning outcomes.

Communicate with Your Students

Introduce Yourself and Maintain Regular Contact

Even in a class of 100 or more, it’s possible to create a collegial atmosphere through regular communication between you and your students. Consider sending a weekly email or announcement with friendly reminders and updates, but also use it to share a bit about yourself. What do you love about the subject you’re teaching? What’s been in the news about your discipline lately? Share a picture of your dog or the last time you saw a hummingbird, and encourage your students to do the same. Give students a forum to share questions, ideas, and newsworthy information related to the course. Casual yet relevant communication helps students feel more connected to the course.

Give Prompt Feedback

To gauge what they know and how to adjust, students need regular feedback. This can be in-the-moment knowledge checks during class using clickers or other technology, weekly quizzes, or more qualitative feedback on written assignments. Whatever the format, feedback doesn’t have to be terribly time consuming. Students can even help — and learn in the process — by grading quizzes or commenting on student writing using your example as a model.

Communicate High Expectations

Students tend to strive for the instructor’s expectations. To help motivate and engage, set high expectations but also tell students you believe all of them can meet those expectations given the right amount of focus and effort. Communicate your expectations clearly, and explain what part you will play in helping students reach their goals. This helps students feel supported, which also affects their willingness to achieve at the level you expect.

Build Community

Encourage Contact Between Students and Faculty

Ask questions and encourage students to do the same. Think of students’ questions as a gauge for how fast and in what direction the lecture should head. Move around the room so students at the back experience being close to the instructor. Set up a system for students to communicate with you outside of class via office hours, online Q&A forum, or email.

Develop Reciprocity and Collaboration Among Students

Students often find new and helpful ways to explain content when they can collaborate. Consider starting the term with permanent groups of five to 10 students as small, friendly communities within the larger class. This will help them connect in and out of class, study together, participate in in-class activities easily, and keep each other accountable — which is difficult for the instructor with a class larger than 40 or 50. You might assign each group a leader to regularly report progress, questions, and ideas.

Respect Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Students will come to your class with diverse experiences, expectations, and ways of learning. Rather than mold them to your way of teaching, create a flexible environment that helps students connect with the course material in their own way. This may mean giving them choices, asking them to help make decisions about the course, or giving them several ways to study or demonstrate understanding.

Focus Class Time on Student Learning

Engage in Active Learning

The more students do, the more they learn. You can help students apply course content in meaningful ways by using think, pair, share activities; short writing and discussion activities; and knowledge checks with clickers. Also, chances to go to the board or present information to the whole class will activate all students more.

Emphasize Time on Task

Time on task means the time students spend directly focusing on course content and practicing relevant skills. In a large class, any technique that helps keep students’ attention contributes to their time on task. That may mean using humor, taking breaks, using visual or auditory aids that serve as mnemonic devices, etc. Consider having students create visuals related to what they’re learning, which they could then share in class or online. Students are more likely to incorporate new information into what they already know if they are asked to create something that helps them make connections.

Course Design Essentials

Contributors:Andrew F. Lawrence, Lindsay Murphy

This guide applies to a range of course design or revision techniques. You might use the Rule of 2’s: Simple Course Design Template to make notes and capture ideas as you work through this article. This article and the Rule of 2’s template follow a backward design flow, where you start planning with student learning outcomes in mind. (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005).

Identify Course Goals

You may be familiar with student learning outcomes, also sometimes called learning objectives or course goals. Your course may have preset outcomes already determined, or you might need to identify outcomes. In either case, you want to make sure you have a set of student learning outcomes that are accurate and reflect the purpose of the course. Good student learning outcomes are observable and measurable — so you can observe student work and measure whether it meets the goals of the course. Outcomes might address content knowledge, skills, or even dispositions that you intend students to acquire. For a guide to writing effective student learning outcomes, check out the OAI+ article on assessment methods.

Imagine that a large box arrives at your house. It’s full of parts to assemble but has no instructions and no pictures of the final object — so you are stuck trying to make sense of all the parts without understanding the end goal. This is how students often feel when they enter a course without student learning outcomes or clear goals.

Once you’ve identified the outcomes for your course, they form the foundation, blueprint, or roadmap that everyone in the course is working toward. As you design or revise your course, keep coming back to these outcomes to ensure your planned assessments, assignments, learning activities, and teaching strategies align with your intended learning outcomes.

Build Assessments around Course Goals

Think back to that mysterious box that arrived at your house. What if the box had instructions, but they didn’t match the parts? What if parts were missing or the instructions skipped big steps?

This is analogous to what happens when assigned work doesn’t align with the course goals or when assessments don’t match what has been taught in the class. It’s difficult for students to understand why the work is necessary or relevant or how their assessments reflect what they are learning.

The Purpose of Assessments

This article uses assessments and assignments interchangeably as ways to externalize student learning, to better observe and measure it.

Some assessments are intended to help you and students perceive how much progress you’ve all made toward meeting the course goals. Other assessments are meant to measure whether students are ready to move on to the next stage, whether that’s the next topic in your course or another course altogether. Not all assessments need to be graded. Some can be used as practice that helps you adjust your expectations and helps students know what to focus on as they progress through the course.

On assessments meant to serve as learning tools for future work, it’s often helpful to give students opportunities for peer review, self-reflection, and suggestions rather than a letter or number grade. Research shows that grades are often demotivating for students and can be confusing when students try to improve their grade in future assignments. While we often look at grades as inevitable and ubiquitous, they are relatively new as a standard practice in higher education (Schinske & Tanner, 2014).

Questions to Consider When Creating Assessments

  • Do assessments measure what you mean for them to measure?
  • Are assessments aligned with your Student Learning Outcomes?
  • Which assessments absolutely need grades and which need a different kind of feedback?

Scaffold for Student Success

When asking students to complete large assessments such as term papers, presentations, group projects, lab experiments, final exams, or research studies, it’s helpful to break these assignments into smaller tasks that “scaffold” the work and support the final product.

Questions to Consider When Scaffolding

  • What steps do students need to take to complete the large assignment?
  • What kind of accountability and feedback will help them complete the large assignment? (It often helps to require that students turn in outlines, proposals, and drafts because it keeps them accountable and assists them in breaking their work into parts.)
  • How long will each part likely take, and how can you schedule one or two check-ins with students as they are completing the parts?
  • How long will you need to give students meaningful feedback where appropriate?
  • If planning a group project, what roles do you expect students to take to complete the project together, and how might a group contract or project proposal help to outline those roles and responsibilities?

Another important aspect of scaffolding is ensuring continuity between synchronous and asynchronous aspects of the class. For example, if students are assigned readings and discussions to complete on their own time, class time should relate to those readings and discussions. Maybe that means scheduling time for Q&A about the asynchronous work before moving on to new material, or providing the new material in advance of the class session so students are ready to discuss it in real time.

Design Active Learning Experiences and Plan Teaching Strategies

One of the most common mistakes in course design is assuming the material is the course. Rather, the material is merely one tool of the course. The learning experiences, relationships, and teaching strategies you plan should align with your course goals and students needs. “Those who do the work do the learning” (Doyle, 2011) — so the more students have opportunities to interact with the course materials, their peers, and you, the better. When considering what activities to design for your course, ask yourself what students can do to connect with the course skills, dispositions, and concepts.

For example, if one of your course goals is to have students evaluate different perspectives on global development, your learning activities and teaching strategies should give students the chance to do such evaluation. Instead of just listening to lectures, students could be invited to:

    • Share examples espousing different perspectives from global development organizations.
    • Engage in class role-playing scenarios based on different perspectives.
    • Apply case studies to global development scenarios.

These experiences give students more active involvement in learning about and evaluating perspectives.

The wide range of teaching and learning approaches includes:

    • Flexible teaching strategies that emphasize teaching and learning across course modalities (online, in-person, or blended)
    • Community-based learning that invites students and community members to participate toward mutually beneficial goals and projects in well-planned and structured partnerships
    • Open education focusing on using free learning materials that allow students to co-create alongside their instructors, building nondisposable assignments and encouraging agency
    • Universal design for learning that emphasizes student choice, access, and agency in assignment and course design to reduce/eliminate barriers to learning

Get Student Input during Design

Whether you use feedback from last term’s students or suggestions from this term’s students, inviting your students to give design input will do a lot to help the course run smoothly.

    • Student input encourages student motivation, participation, and agency.
    • Course co-creation helps to meet student needs by encouraging a diversity of ideas and choices.

Ways to Encourage Student Input as You Plan the Course

Ask: Send out a poll about a week before the course begins asking about technology access, communication mode preferences, and assignment type feedback. Students might be most interested in devoting some class time to ask questions while working on video projects rather than term papers — but as instructors, we won’t know that unless we ask.

Brainstorm: Give students three or four learning outcomes on the first day, and ask the class to brainstorm other outcomes they would like to include on the list. Work to include one or two of their suggestions on the final list of student learning outcomes.

Offer: Offer choice in how students complete some assignments. This might mean a choice of assignment formats, collaborations, or due dates.

Negotiate: Create a negotiated syllabus with your students during the first week of class. Give them a say in the course goals, assessments, assignments, and activities. You don’t have to make everything negotiable. A critical part of planning is to identify the scope of choice. This is a great way to build community and get student buy-in around course requirements. “The Negotiated model is totally different from other syllabuses in that it allows full learner participation in selection of content, mode of working, route of working, assessment, and so on. It should by this means embody the central principle that the learner’s needs are of paramount importance” (Clarke, 1991).

Student-Faculty Partnerships in Curricula has additional details and strategies.

Plan Regular Communication and Feedback

Even before you meet your students, it’s important to think about how you can engage with them, give them feedback, and check in with them regularly. Building community and a sense of instructor presence goes a long way in helping students feel supported and part of a learning community.

Ways to Stay in Touch with Your Students

Post a weekly announcement or send a weekly email. This message can include due dates, recommended practices, campus resources, and/or something fun, human, and non-academic to lighten the mood. The goal is to stay present with your students and build a regular communication pattern.

Hold regular student office hours in-person or via Zoom. Even if it’s just 30 minutes twice a week, being available to answer questions and build connections can be a big support for students. If your students are shy about attending student hours, consider having them sign up for at least one check-in of 10 to 15 minutes during the term.

Make weekly feedback videos of two to three minutes each for the whole class. Giving every student individual feedback can be time prohibitive. Instead, when students are doing those scaffolded assignments, send out a quick video to the whole class with your impressions of their work-in-progress and any tips about how they can improve it. Video feedback can be particularly effective in an online or blended course where you may not have as much visible presence.

Contact students individually when you notice they have not been participating regularly. Students are juggling a lot, and sometimes they might drop the ball. Having an instructor reach out to check in on them can make all the difference between a student who fails a course and one who persists and succeeds. Such outreach can be most effective when framed as an invitation to participate or an expression of care instead of a punitive reminder.

Reflect and Iterate

Despite all the planning you’ve done, each time you teach a course you and your students will have different needs and outcomes. It can be helpful to keep a running log of changes you’d like to make or strategies that worked well. Then when you prepare to teach the course again, you have an idea of where to focus your efforts. An OAI course consultation or a student-centered course review can also give you feedback and ideas to continue refining your course.

Clarke, D. (1991). The Negotiated Syllabus: What Is It and How Is It Likely to Work? Applied Linguistics, 12(1), 13–28.

Doyle, T. (2011). Learner-Centered Teaching: Putting the Research on Learning into Practice. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Schinske, J., & Tanner, K. (2014). Teaching More by Grading Less (or Differently). CBE Life Sciences Education, 13(2), 159–166.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (Expanded 2nd ed.). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Building Community in Your Online Course

Contributors:Kari Goin, Misty Hamideh

A community is a group of people who share a common purpose. In the context of an online course, a community includes not only students, but also the instructor(s) and, in many cases, experts from outside PSU. Establishing online community helps you and your students to:

  • Create meaningful learning experiences.
  • Answer larger questions beyond the scope of the class.
  • Increase student engagement and autonomy.
  • Have dialogues that support learning new skills and applying critical thinking.
  • Foster deeper learning connections.

To create and strengthen online community, build mechanisms into your course that encourage students to connect with you and each other. These can be technology features, collaborative teaching practices, or both.

Ideas for Building Online Community

Getting to Know Students

Understanding your students is crucial. An online course needs a meaningful place for students to share a bio and their interests in taking the class. Understanding their needs makes relevant and meaningful interaction easier.

Some ways you can get to know students:

Sharing Media

Encourage students to build their digital identity by sharing a piece of media — a photo, video, article, or sound clip. These PSU tools can help:

Seeking Help

Encourage students to develop a help-seeking strategy. Consider who your students go to for help and for answers to questions. As the instructor, you don’t have to be the only one. You could:

  • Invite a community expert to monitor a discussion forum for a week.
  • Have students help each other answer questions.

Supporting Choice

Allow for student choice in discussion forums or group work. Give students options in activities and/or assignments. Allow them to choose what’s most valuable and meaningful.

  • Each week, give students three topics to choose from — along with your guidelines and expectations for participation.

Setting Routine

The previous examples promote student autonomy and flexibility, key strategies in designing for adult learners — but routine is essential as well. For more engaging interactions and a feeling of inclusion, students need you to also supply:

  • Clear, simple, consistent expectations
  • Regular deadlines in a consistent, weekly format
  • Detailed instructions that outline involvement and collaboration