Resources for TAs, CAs, and Student Forum Leaders

CPI is available to work with you for matters related to your academic work with students. If you would like further support for any of these questions, or others not addressed here, we can help you. No matter what stage your class is in, CPI aids in thinking through objectives, designing online or in-person activities, building community in classes, ensuring equity in your instruction, and more. Contact us anytime with questions!

Initial Questions

  • How do I write a strong learning objective?

    QUICK TIP: A learning objective is a statement of what students will be able to do or demonstrate by a certain point in the class (usually the end). An effective learning objective is measurable and focuses on the student’s perspective and includes timing (e.g., “by the end of week 4”), demonstrable activity (e.g., “define”, “differentiate”, “build”, “design”) and product.

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Live and Recorded Video

  • Should I record a video or meet on Zoom?

    QUICK TIP: Pre-record videos for content that can be one-directional and static, requiring little if any discussion. Zoom meetings allow for content that changes regularly or focuses heavily on discussion aspects. Most courses - and even many individual “class sessions” - may exist as a combination of these two and can utilize both approaches. CPI can help you construct a plan for recorded videos or offer suggestions for improving the quality of synchronous meetings.

  • How do I use Zoom most effectively?

    QUICK TIP: Take advantage of the fact that all students are present and connected. Don’t try to exactly replicate the in person experience. Allow opportunities for short, regular breaks to give students a quick mental reset and make explicit space for inevitable distractions. For longer meetings, consider ways to have whole-group Zoom sessions “bookend” some other activity. Talk to CPI about some strategies and ideas that will make sense for your particular course.

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  • How do I make a good instructional video?

    QUICK TIP: Above all else, keep instructional videos short, typically between 6 and 10 minutes (so a typical 50-minute lecture might consist of 5-8 videos). Have a plan for what you want to say (a script or at least an outline) and recognize that your timings are likely to be different than a live lecture because you won’t have feedback in the form of questions or opportunities for clarification. Find logical breakpoints in the lecture, and try to have each video be independent enough that students don’t need to watch the entire set straight through to follow the thread. Leverage visuals when possible, but try to keep your image on the screen (even in a small box) at least most of the time to build personal connection.

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Community Building

  • How do I ask good discussion questions?

    QUICK TIP: Craft discussion questions - whether posed synchronously or asynchronously - that reflect on weekly learning objectives and do not allow for yes/no answers. Allow space for students to consider replies before anyone responds. For forum-based discussion, provide multiple questions for response.

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  • How do I encourage students to participate in class discussions online?

    QUICK TIP: The Community of Inquiry framework suggests an effective online learning experience requires elements of social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence working together. Further, an effective pedagogical strategy incorporates the student interacting with each of the three main elements of the classroom - course material, the instructor, and other students - while allowing time for self-reflection. 

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Accessibility and Inclusion

Additional CPI Resources