Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Instructional Practices

Instructional Practices

At Cal Poly, learn by doing deeply informs our mission and manifests itself throughout the curriculum. Accounting students provide voluntary tax assistance to low-income families; marine science students develop interactive exhibits on acidity levels in the ocean at the Cal Poly pier in Avila Beach; agriculture and horticulture students raise and sell produce at local Farmers Markets. The CTLT understands that to foster a spirit of learn by doing, Cal Poly faculty and staff must be supported in the development and use of innovative teaching pedagogies that include active, problem-based, and collaborative learning strategies. 

The CTLT’s Instructional Practices resources provide faculty and staff with suggestions and guidelines on how to enhance teaching and learning inside the class and beyond. Check back frequently, as these resources continue to expand. Many of these practices are also supported through the CTLT's workshops, learning communities and consultations. 

Learning and Teaching For Well-being

Today’s generation of college students are reporting increased anxiety, stress, sadness, and exhaustion. These experiences can undermine students’ ability to learn, and thus result in assignments, quizzes, projects, exams, and grades that do not reflect their actual abilities.

The set of resources on this page is here to help promote effective outreach by campus educators in order to better support their students.

Learning and Teaching For Well-being

Prompting Higher Quality Course Evaluations

Resources to enhance students' feedback skills

At their best, official course evaluations provide instructors with valuable insights from students about their experiences in the course, which can guide revisions for improvement. However, when students provide low-quality (or decline to give any) feedback, this opportunity is lost.

Instructors may see more useful feedback more often (regardless of whether it's more positive or more negative) when students have guidance on the characteristics of quality feedback. This guidance can enhance the value of feedback on open-ended questions that are often included in addition to items with numerical ratings. Incidentally, it can also build students' professional skills for providing more effective feedback.

Below are resources designed to (1) encourage more widespread participation in end-of-term course evaluations and (2) encourage feedback that is more valuable for guiding improvements, independent of whether it is more positive or more negative. The two items are designed to be used together.

For students: Meaningful Feedback handout

You can share this document with students and, if desired, review it briefly in class to raise its visibility and highlight its value.

For instructors: Meaningful Feedback talking points

Ideas for instructors to frame an upcoming student feedback opportunity (i.e., end-of-term evaluations, etc.).

Quick Methods To Check In With Students

It is difficult enough in face-to-face classes to know what is going on in students' minds about the course -- and it's even more challenging when teaching mostly or fully online.

A check-in activity with your students for their informal feedback during the quarter only takes a little time but can give you valuable insights into students' experiences and how you might be able to easily make small adaptations that mean a lot to them. Inviting their input might also enhance students' perceptions of you by demonstrating that you care enough to ask.

A check-in activity is best scheduled around the early-middle of a quarter (e.g.,  between Week 4 and Week 6). Students will have had enough time in the course to base their feedback on solid experience and there will be sufficient time for you to make any (usually modest) changes in response to their feedback so that it can make a difference for the quarter.

Below are just a few ideas for prompting students' reflection about the course and useful feedback to you. You can browse them, select one that appeals to you and try it with one or more classes. For in-class activity, you can print them for distribution and give students about 5 minutes to respond before you collect them to review later.


This simple feedback protocol is framed around asking students how you can make adjustments to better support their learning. The prompts ask students to indicate what aspects of the course they would like to see more of, what aspects they would like to see less of, and what aspects they recommend you should keep about the same.

Three by Three

This simple feedback protocol will prompt students to reflect constructively on their learning experiences to date in the course. The protocol asks them to indicate three important things that they learned, three things that helped them to learn, and three things that they recommend changing (your instruction but also their learning practices) to improve their learning.



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