Teaching & FCQs 

The FCQ program is managed within the Office of Data Analytics at CU Boulder, learn more here.

​Each semester we ask students to evaluate their courses and instructors using a questionnaire called the Faculty Course Questionnaires (FCQ ). There has been much research on the efficacy of course questionnaires and the demonstrable flaws of these instruments as a tool for faculty evaluation, including the potential for bias (also see​). When used constructively and appropriately, however, FCQs can provide individual faculty members insights into the experiences of students in their classes. Data gathered from FCQs can be viewed as a type of formative feedback (rather than summative) that allows faculty to reflect on their role in creating learning experiences for students and guide their efforts at strengthening their teaching practices. 

  

The goal of this website is to help faculty translate course feedback gathered through the Faculty Course Questionnaire (FCQ) into actionable steps to improve student learning. Each of the new FCQ questions listed below is hyperlinked to a list of concrete evidence-based suggestions and resources that will support faculty in the work they do as educators.​

In this course, the instructor:

Examine how your background and experiences have shaped your perspective of your own and others' cultural identity.

  • Develop an awareness of your own potential biases and their negative effect on teaching/learning.
  • Watch this video on Unconscious Bias@Work by Google Ventures that explains unconscious bias and suggests four methods to overcome it.

Discern the impact of explicit and implicit messages on students.\

Incorporate diversity into your curriculum.

  • Meet with a librarian from Auraria Library who will help you to discover course content that is representative of diverse students and sensitive to a diverse society.
Create an inclusive classroom environment.
  • Download this handout of tips for establishing ground rules for productive discourse and examples of ground rules.
  • Five deliberate steps you can take to foster a sense of belonging and ensure that all students feel welcomed and valued as part of the learning community.
  • Use participation structures like think-pair-share for discussion and group work that create equal opportunities for all students to ask or answer questions. 
  • Get to know your students by learning their names.
  • If you struggle remembering students' names check out this podcast which provides helpful strategies.  
  • Review these guidelines and specific strategies for discussing difficult or controversial topics in the classroom.
  • Reflect on your teaching practice using this Inclusive Strategies Reflection Tool.
  • Review these guidelines for reducing implicit bias in your grading.
Design your course using principles of Universal Design.
  • Learn more about the UDL Framework and Guidelines to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insight into how humans learn.
Create transparent assignments and activities.
  • Learn more about transparent assignments and their benefits.
  • Create a purpose statement for your assignments/activities which explains why students are completing the task, what they will learn, and why the assignment is relevant to the class of their lives.
  • Describe what you expect students to do and explain how they should do it.
  • Provide students with clear criteria on which their performance will be judged.
  • Provide students with examples of excellent and not-so-excellent work.
Write student-centered learning outcomes.
  • Describe the work that students will be expected to do.
  • Include your course learning outcomes on your syllabus and talk about them in class.
  • Explore the value of course-level learning outcomes.
  • Be inspired by this list of sample learning outcomes from a variety of course.
  • Use the CFDA self-paced tutorial on Assessment and Instructional Alignment to learn how to write outcomes and align them with your assessments and activities.
Create developmental outcomes and assignments: Build from foundational to higher order thinking.
Align learning outcomes with course readings, activities, and assignments.
Reflect on what creative and critical thinking are and identify the components of these important thinking skills.
Use problem-based approaches to learning.
    • Learn more about problem-based learning (PBL)
    • Visit the PBL Clearinghouse and find inspiration by browsing through peer-reviewed PBL activities in a variety of disciplines.
    • Create challenges for students that ask them to use Design Thinking to solve complex problems.
    • To learn more take this virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking.
    • Chat with one of the faculty members at CU Denver Inworks. They use Design Thinking in their courses regularly.
Provide opportunities for students to express their learning in a variety of formats.
    • Transform writing assignments or quizzes into digital stories for student anthologies or poster presentations.
    • Explore some examples of how these alternative assignments can help to make student thinking visible in the humanities.
    • Learn how to create digital stories and guide students in digital storytelling by taking the free online MOOC Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling.
    • Ask students to use free, easy to use apps like Book Creator or PB Pressbooks to author and publish books.
    • Ask students to use free, easy apps like FlipGrid (integrates with Canvas) create tutorial videos for one another.
Use frequent low-stakes/no-stakes assessment in the classroom.
Establish clear written performance standards.
Encourage students to reflect on their performance.
  • Use assignment wrappers and exam wrappers which help students analyze their performance and create a plan to address their deficiencies.
  • Explore these examples of exam wrappers in a variety of disciplines.
  • Ask students to conduct peer reviews of one another's work.
Teach students about metacognition and growth mindset.
  • Help students learn how to learn by teaching them about metacognition.  This series of short videos by Dr. Stephen Chew will help.
  • Encourage students to develop a growth mindset, a belief that their most basic abilities can be developed.
  • Explore useful resources that can be used during class to encourage students to incorporate Learning to Learn strategies in their studies 
Set high standards and articulate your confidence that students can achieve them.

Explore the research on engaging learners and student motivation.
Connect learning to student interests and lives.
  • When possible, use authentic, real-world contexts and problems to which the students can relate.
  • Help students understand how your course learning outcomes are related to their future career, personal, and community-based goals, it’s important to make this connection explicit.
  • Interview your students; Give assignments that allow students to share their experiences and interests; Structure specific class discussions that let individual students be the center of attention.   
Provide students with some choice and control.
  • If there are some optional topics in the course, have students vote on which ones to include.
  • Let students choose the topic for a project or assignment.
  • Provide students with options of how they express their learning.
Show your own interest and enthusiasm for the subject.
  • Tell students how you became interested in your discipline. Explain your career path.
  • Spend some time in class talking about your most recent research project.
  • Listen to this Cult of Pedagogy podcast interview with James Sturtevant, author of "You've Got to Connect."
Help students develop a sense that they can master the material.
  • Communicate clear learning goals by sharing course learning outcomes.
  • Express to students your confidence that they can master the material.
  • Create assignments and activities that are challenging, but doable.
  • Build in early success and ramp up the difficulty.
  • Use classroom assessment techniques to provide regular feedback that gives students a clear sense of how well they are mastering the material.
  • Point out to students how much they have learned.
  • Use these videos on metacognition to provide students with specific advice on how they can improve their learning. 
Create transparent assignments and activities.
Write learner-centered learning outcomes.
  • Describe the work that students will be expected to do.
  • Include learning outcomes on your assignments and talk about them in class.
  • Explain to students how completion of specific assignments and activities will help them to achieve specific course-level learning outcomes.
  • Use the CFD self-paced tutorial on Assessment and Instructional Alignment to learn how to write outcomes and align them with your assessments and activities.
Align course assignments and activities with course learning outcomes.
  • Explore the benefits of aligning assessments, learning objectives, and instructional strategies.
  • Take the CFD self-paced Assessment and Instructional Alignment tutorial.
  • Use this Alignment Guide in conjunction with the two charts below to undertake the two-step process to align your outcomes and assessments (ACUE). 
Establish clear written performance standards.
Debrief graded tests and assignments.
  • Use exam wrappers and assignment wrappers to help students identify patterns in their returned graded work and/or reflect on how they prepared.
  • Review sample grading criteria to enhance your efficiency.
Engage students in applying the criteria you will use on their work.
Schedule regular office hours and encourage students to come.
  • Consult with students on the best times to hold office hours.
  • Consider offering virtual office hours via Zoom if it suits your student population.
  • Explain to students the purpose of office hours.
  • Remind students throughout the semester when your office hours are scheduled and where you will meet with them.
  • Make the most of your office hours by using them to get to know students, teach, advise, mentor, and listen.
  • Create and use a virtual office hour link within your Canvas course shell.  
    • Be creative and personalize your “office hours” with a picture, logo, image or a catchy name, (e.g. Conversation Café) that encourage students to pose a question anytime. 
    • Monitor and respond regularly and allow other students to chime in with their response to further build a sense of community in the online platform. Remember, the Conferences tool in Canvas allows you to conduct synchronous meetings with students online and the Scheduler tool (in the Calendar) can be used to create virtual office hours by appointment. 
Check for understanding throughout your class period.

Create a supportive classroom environment.

  • Get to now your students by name, by taking role.
  • Speak with students before and after class.
  • Greet students as they enter class.
  • On the first day of class distribute a questionnaire that helps you collect baseline information on students level of preparation, interests and motivations (examples here).
  • Help students develop a growth mindset and a belief that being wrong is part of learning.

Teach students how best to learn in your discipline.

  • Use these videos on metacognition to provide students with specific advice on how they can improve their learning. 
  • Use exam wrappers and assignment wrappers to help students identify patterns in their returned graded work and/or reflect on how they prepared.

Connect learning to students' interests and lives.

  • When possible, use authentic, real-world contexts and problems to which the students can relate.
  • Show how material is useful in other courses and/or future careers.
  • Use a customized student survey to gain insight into the unique backgrounds and needs of your students

Provide students with some choice and control.

  • If there are some optional topics in the course, have students vote on which ones to include.
  • Let students choose the topic for a project or assignment.
  • Provide students with options of how they express their learning.

Help students develop a sense that they can master the material.

  • Communicate clear learning goals by sharing course learning outcomes and creating transparent assignments.
  • Express to students your confidence that they can master the material.
  • Create assignments and activities that are challenging, but doable.
  • Build in early success and ramp up the difficulty.
  • Use classroom assessment techniques to provide regular feedback that gives students a clear sense of how well they are mastering the material.
  • Point out to students how much they have learned.
  • Use these videos on metacognition to provide students with specific advice on how they can improve their learning. 
  • Consider ways to support your students in multiple suggestions for revising your work.

Communicate your confidence in students' ability to learn.

  • Teach students about growth mindset, the idea that we can grown our brain's capacity to learn and solve problems.
  • When students succeed, praise their efforts and strategies as opposed to their intelligence. (listen to this Two Guys on Your Head podcast for an explanation, Praise Aug. 23, 2018).
  • Express your high expectations for students and your confidence that they can succeed through the practice of wise feedback.

Develop familiarity with learning resources on campus and share them with students.

Solicit mid-semester feedback from students.
  Find out what is, and what is not working for students by soliciting mid-semester feedback.

In this course, I was encouraged to:

Set ground rules for maintaining productive discourse.
  • On the first day of class tell students that you would like classroom discussions to be informed, respectful, thoughtful and engaged. Then ask them to brainstorm ground rules that everyone should follow to make this happen. 
  • Find more on ground rules here.
Encourage students to get to know one another.
  • Use icebreakers several times in the first month of class so that students get to know a variety of classmates.
  • Ask students to use free, easy apps like FlipGrid (integrates with Canvas) to introduce themselves, respond to class prompts, and respond to one another.
  • Purposefully make groups more heterogeneous by asking students to work with others who a) share their birthday month, b) are wearing the same color shirt, c) get to campus by the same mode of transportation etc.
Build cooperative group work into your classes.
Explicitly teach teamwork skills and provide opportunities to practice.
  • Use the AAC&U rubric on teamwork to identify the key skills involved teamwork.
  • Learn more about ways to teach, assess teamwork, and deepen processes in the college classroom.
  • At the beginning of group or team projects, create time and a process for students to discuss their respective strengths, personal learning goals, anticipated contributions etc.
  • Give students regular opportunities to reflect upon ways their learning has been enhanced by interaction with classmates.
Encourage the participation of all students.
  • Give students time to gather their thoughts in writing before discussing with the whole group.
  • Use strategies for including a range of voices in class e.g. asking to hear from those who have not spoken, wait until several hands are raised to call on anyone, wait at least 5 seconds before calling on anyone, or use small group conversations to seed larger group discussions.
  • Wait time is indeed an under-utilized resource. Select a strategy or two to help you manage what might feel like awkward silence.
Ask students to analyze their own performance.
  • Use exam wrappers and assignment wrappers to help students identify patterns in their returned graded work and/or reflect on how they prepared.

Build student reflection into your class.

Help students to value the process of learning.

  • Use these videos on metacognition to provide students with specific advice on how they can improve their learning. 
Connect course learning and course material to students’ career or other long-term goals
Ensure that your course content is representative of diverse reading, resources, materials, and diverse societal perspectives.
  • Pair theoretical readings with more applied, praxis-focused, or vernacular ones.
Reinforce a topic by making connections to real-world examples and current socio-cultural, political events and/or debates.
  • Use Think-Pair-Share for discussion and thought. 
  • Use Analytic Teams for problem-solving and analysis.
  • Pose a problem/prompt that asks students for application in a local, national, or global context. 
  • Share your own personal experience/narrative in relation to course material to illustrate application.
Explore the research on collaborative and peer-to-peer learning.
  • Dig into the basics of collaborative and peer-to-peer learning, here.
  • Watch and be inspired by this video about cutting edge P2P instruction approaches.
  • Read about how you can facilitate peer to peer learning, here.
Implement collaborative learning exercises, activities and assignments.
  • Take a look at this collaborative learning guide for instructors: here.
  • Get started by incorporating 1 or 2 of these collaborative learning/group work activities into a course you are currently teaching. 
  • Encourage students to form study groups   

Implement peer assessment strategies to encourage substantive engagement with peers in class.
Explore the research on student participation.
  • Read this series of short articles on student participation from various perspectives here.
  • Consider how power dynamics and inequalities in the classroom may impact student participation here.
  • Think about how “instructor immediacy” impacts student participation here.
Implement deliberate strategies for increasing student participation. Create multiple pathways for student participation in class.
Emphasize that arguments are not to be equated with personal opinions rather they need to be supported by evidence (facts, statistics, examples, proof, data, research, statements, etc.).
  • Conclude reading exercises with scaffolded summary prompts. For example: Begin by asking students to identify the author’s overall argument/thesis statement. Next ask them to analyze and predict (e.g. What kinds of evidence does the author use to support their claim(s)? What methodology do they employ? What are their theoretical frameworks? What literature is cited?).  Finally, ask students to explain whether they agree or disagree with this position and formulate possible counter-arguments. 
  • Using debate as part of a lesson encourages all students to be engaged in exploring the issue being discussed. .  “How to get Your Whole Class Debating,”  
  • Debate activities are valuable not just for teaching public speaking skills, but students develop critical thinking, research and organizational skills. Learn strategies for maximizing the benefits of debate in your class “Classroom Debate.” ,  “Want to Facilitate a Debate in Your Class?” ,  “Using Classroom Debates to Engage Students,” 
Ensure that class discussions comments and ideas contribute to the group’s understanding of the material and concepts.
  • Ask open-ended, analytical, or opinion questions to increase participation and sequence questions to progress toward higher order thinking
Create developmental outcomes and assignments which build from foundational to higher order thinking.
  • Reflect on the mutual expectations you and students have for each other, here.
Build student understanding about their learning strengths and preferences.
  • In its simplest sense, decision-making is the act of choosing between two or more courses of action. In the wider process of problem-solving, decision-making involves choosing between possible solutions to a problem. Take a short quiz to assess your current decision-making practices and learn more about how you can improve while also helping your students. 
  • The Classroom Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ) is an evaluative tool that allows instructors to receive quick feedback from students on course content and instruction. The CIQ helps instructors make decisions about their teaching and students’ learning. Use the CIQ to help students reflect on their learning preferences and habits.
  • Encourage students to maximize the benefits of UC Denver’s Career Center. Our Career Center offers a lot for students to explore their strengths in terms of self, learning, interests, majors, careers, and much more. 
Plan for opportunities to strengthen students critical thinking skills.  
  • Review some practical points that focuses on questioning to promote critical thinking. 
  • Take a look at this video from the University of London on helping students develop critical thinking.

Deepen your own understanding of why including diverse scholars on your syllabus is important.

  • Ask yourself, "who is represented in my syllabus?" "whose voices are included or excluded?" "who are students being exposed to as producers of knowledge?" "what narratives and experiences are being centered?"
  • Understand the research and be ready to articulate the benefits of inclusive teaching practices:here
  • Consider moves you can makeduring the design phase of your course that can help you create a more equitable and inclusive learning experience 

With a heightened awareness of the importance of this work, move forward with the selection of specifics actions you will take to strengthen an inclusive classroom environment abound.

Review each of the following sites and select strategies that best fit your teaching style and context 

In the wake of incidents of hate, bias and discrimination on campus or in the wider community, be ready to respond.

Reflect on your role as the instructor in the classroom
 
Revise my work based on instructor feedback.

Help students use feedback to improve their learning.
  • Read about Grant Wiggins’ “Seven Keys to Effective Feedback”
  • Give students the opportunity to practice revising

Give feedback that ensures students that they will not be viewed or treated in light of a negative stereotype and that their abilities and belonging are assumed rather than doubted.
Use numbers, graphs, and/or statistics to understand course content.

Teaching students how to read, interpret and question graphs, maps and charts is a key 21st-century skill.

  • Review tips for helping students make sense of statistics and graphs, evaluate their reliability, and draw logical conclusions
  • Learn about different visual tools and related activities you can assign to students.

Bring the data in your discipline to life with engaging visuals representations.

 

 

 

Use writing assignments to understand course content.

Consider what you need to do to creatively and effectively incorporate writing and speaking assignments into your courses.

Ensure proactive planning for online writing assignments.