Literature Review: Teaching Effectiveness

Design: Planning and alignment

 Descriptors : Dimensions and subdimensions Examples of Supporting Literature


- Builds course around evident design framework

- Clearly defines course-level and activity-level learning objectives

 - Includes learning material that is relevant and/or current scholarship from the field

- Structures material in a logical and coherent order

- Includes experiential and/or professional connections, when possible

- Sets workload and performance standards appropriate for the course level and topic

- Plans a variety of teaching/learning strategies to promote student engagement and deep learning 

- Expected outcomes expressed, clarity in standards and assessment criteria (Allen et al. 2009); clear goals (Ramsden 2003)

- Communicates high / clear expectations (Chickering and Gamson 1987; UBC; UofC)

- Material is relevant and interesting (UofC)

- Prepared and organized (Hativa et al. 2001)  

- Preparation, organization of subject matter, currency of course material (Policy 77)

- Appropriate workload and level of difficulty (Allen et al. 2009)

- Engages students at their level of understanding (Ramsden 2003)

- Encourages deep learning (UW Issue Paper; Policy 77)  

- Uses their knowledge to develop techniques for grasping fundamental principles and organizing concepts that others can use to build their own understanding and abilities (Bain 2004


- Aligns program expectations, course objectives and learning outcomes with course content, delivery of course and learning activities, and assessments

- Develops appropriate and sufficient assessment methods that align with course objectives and outcome                          

- Uses alignment in course and curriculum design (UW Issue Paper)  

- Systematic, well organised and well structured (Allen et al. 2009)

- Uses appropriate assessments and provides feedback (Ramsden 2003; UofC)

- Suitability of assignments and examinations (Policy 77

Execution: Communication, student engagement, variety of elements, assessments, and feedback

Descriptors: Dimensions and sub-dimensions Examples of supporting literature


- Describes and explains material clearly using an appropriate pace

- Demonstrates enthusiasm for the subject  

- Uses technology and/or media effectively

- Clear communication and explanations (Chickering and Gamson 1987)

- Capacity to explain material plainly (Ramsden 2003); clear presentation (Hativa et al. 2001)

- Provision of enthusiasm and stimulating environment; strong presentation skills (Allen et al. 2009); presentation skills (Policy 77)

Student Engagement

-Promotes student participation, peer interactions, and engagement with course content  

- Uses teaching/learning strategies that encourage student engagement and deep learning

- Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students (Chickering and Gamson 1987)

- Creates a 'natural critical learning environment' (Bain 2004)

Variety of Elements

- Adapts to evolving classroom contexts  

- Adopts a range of teaching strategies, methods, and/or modalities that recognize diverse talents and ways of learning

- Ability to improvise and adapt to new demands (Ramsden 2003)  

- Respects diverse talents and ways of learning (Chickering and Gamson 1987; UBC) 

- Scaffold learning - uses varied ways of teaching (Allen et al. 2009; UofC)

- Creates diverse learning experiences (Bain 2004: 116

Assessments and Feedback

- Prepares students for assessments by delivering content

- Communicates clear expectations and instructions for assessments

- Provides performance feedback in a timely manner

- Provides directions for student improvement individually or collectively  

- Clarity in standards and assessment criteria (Allen et al. 2009; UofC)

- Provides prompt feedback (Chickering and Gamson 1987)

- Provides effective and timely feedback (Allen et al. 2009)

- Gives highest quality feedback (Ramsden 2003

Student experience: Environment, responsiveness, diversity, engagement, and learning

Descriptors: Dimensions and sub-dimensions Examples of supporting literature


- Is approachable

- Builds appropriate rapport with student                                                                                                                                                        

- Approachability, respect for and interest in students (Allen et al. 2009)

- Positive class environment, rapport, encouragement (Hativa et al. 2001)

- Shows concern and respect for students (Ramsden 2003


- Provides sufficient opportunities for student contact inside and outside of class 

- Responds to student inquiries and questions in an appropriate timeframe 

- Encourages contact between students and faculty (Chickering and Gamson 1987)

- Available to students outside the classroom at reasonable times (Policy 77)


Promotes inclusivity and diversity by acknowledging variety of experiences, viewpoints, and backgrounds

- Embodies inclusivity (UW Issue Paper)

- Recognition of student diversity (Allen et al. 2009)

Engagement and Learning  

- Generates and maintains student interest

- Fosters intrinsic motivation

- Seeks student input on course learning experience

- Provides evidence of student learning 

- Ability to make material stimulating and interesting (Ramsden 2003); stimulates interest, engaging (Hativa et al. 2001); ability to stimulate student interest (Policy 77)

- Fosters intrinsic motivation moving students towards learning goals; “get their attention and keep it” (Bain 2004: 35, 109)

- Motivates through enthusiasm (UW Issue Paper); Learning from students (Ramsden 2003); seeks regular student feedback on teaching effectiveness (UBC)

Development: Reflection, growth, collaboration, and mentorship

Descriptors: Dimensions and sub-dimensions Examples of supporting literature


- Reflects on and assesses teaching and learning practices                                                     

- Engages in a scholarly approach to teaching through determining and implementing best practices

- Takes an iterative approach to continuous improvement and growth                                                                             

- Scholarly approach - thinks about teaching as a serious intellectual act equally important as research, a kind of scholarship, that involves developing a case with evidence and exploring the intellectual meaning and qualities of that teaching (Bain 2004: 17, 169)  

- Commitment to continuous improvement, consult scholarly literature and identify goals for strengthening teaching (UofC); reflects on and improves teaching (UBC


- Participates in professional development activities

- Makes changes to practices and/or develops innovations

- Regularly revises or updates course content, assignments, format, or teaching strategies

- Assesses own teaching and make appropriate changes (Bain 2004)  

- Takes advantage of opportunities to enhance teaching by attending professional development activities (UBC)

- Regularly revises and updates content, format, teaching strategies, and assignments (UBC)

Collaboration and Mentorship  

- Leads activities to promote teaching and learning

- Interacts and works with colleagues around teaching

- Provides and receives mentorship related to teaching

- Contributes to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoLT) 

- Seeks peer feedback to enhance teaching (UBC)  

- “Student course evaluations are an important source of information, but they should be supplemented with peer evaluation of teaching skills, course content and course materials” (Policy 77)

See also Hubball and Clark 2011; Wright et al. 2014 

UBC: University of British Columbia Wiki (2010). Effective Teaching Principles and Practices. 
UofC: University of Calgary, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning (2018). Teaching Philosophies and Teaching Dossier Guide.