Preparing to Teach

What does ‘transparency’ mean in a teaching-learning context, and why is it a key principle featured in many CRLT workshops and resources about inclusive teaching? Many different students walking across the University of Michigan campus At its simplest, transparency means clearly communicating with students about course expectations and norms. As outlined below, such transparency can lead to more equitable learning experiences. That’s why transparency is the focus for this year’s Inclusive Teaching @ Michigan May workshop series. (Registration available here; for more details about both transparency and the May series, read on.)

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Congratulations on your appointment as a Graduate Student Instructor! GSIs play an extremely important role in teaching at the University of Michigan. You are generally in charge of teaching small introductory classes, facilitating discussions in small sections connected to large lecture courses, running laboratory sections, teaching lessons in the studio, and holding office hours where one-to-one teaching occurs. Your responsibilities frequently include grading and giving feedback on students’ written work as well.

Because of your teaching responsibilities, you are in a good position to: Read more »


Adapted by Vilma Mesa and Mary Wright from Angelo & Cross (1993)
University of Michigan

“Classroom assessment helps individual college teachers obtain useful feedback on what, how much, and how well their students are learning. Faculty [and GSIs] can then use this information to refocus their teaching to help students make their learning more efficient and effective” (Angelo & Cross, p. 3).  The selected techniques listed below briefly describe the CAT, the amount of instructor preparation, and the amount of in-class time needed for each assessment. 



Time required

Application cards

After teaching about an important theory, principle, or procedure, ask students to write down at least one real-world application for what they have just learned to determine how well they can transfer their learning.

Prep: Low
In-class time: Low

Approximate analogies


Students walking on campusAs winter term wraps up, many U-M teachers are thinking ahead to their spring and summer courses. When teaching in a short semester with a limited number of class sessions, it's especially important to make good use of the first day. How can you use an initial meeting to do more than review the syllabus and begin to learn students' names?

CRLT provides many resources to help you quickly establish a productive learning environment in your courses. This page provides an overview of resources related to goals you might have for the first day, from building rapport among students to getting them engaged with the course material. You can also click on the links below for great ideas about:

As always, CRLT staff are available to consult with individual instructors about effective teaching strategies before, during, or after your course. 


A successful course depends on the planning that precedes it. The articles and links in this section serve as planning guides for both faculty and GSIs. They provide instructions for developing a new or existing course and for creating a syllabus.

Course Design Tutorial (Carleton College)
This site provides a step-by-step approach to course planning starting with the development of goals for student learning and moving on to teaching strategies, assessment of student learning, and the syllabus. Many of the examples are drawn from the geosciences, but the principles are relevant to all disciplines.

Understanding by Design (Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching)
An overview of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe's influential book Understanding by Design and links to resources that assist instructors in applying the book's principles in their course planning.  (The full book is available electronically through the U-M library system to authenticated users.) Read more »