Guiding principles for teaching in the fall

This month, Catherine Rawn, Professor of Teaching in the Department of Psychology and Provost Office Fellow (Faculty), Tiffany Potter, Professor of Teaching in the Department of English Language and Literatures, and Kieran Forde, PhD student and Provost Office Fellow (Students), introduce the subject of this edition: Guiding principles for teaching in fall 2020.

Throughout late April and May, more than 100 colleagues from across UBC Vancouver came together in six working groups to think through some of the widespread, pressing issues in online course design and delivery. The resulting document is both faculty-facing and student-centred, offering best practice advice for the range of teaching at UBC.

Guiding Principles for Fall 2020 (on the Keep Teaching website) draws on expertise from across UBC Vancouver to make the adaptation of your courses online for fall easier for you, and provide the best outcome for your students. The report consists of two key elements:

  1. High-level guiding principles, initially distilled from discussions with faculty members and Associate Deans and then revised to incorporate feedback from more faculty, staff and graduate and undergraduate student representatives.
  2. Detailed insights and advice, including reflection on:
    • the role of TAs in the COVID-19 context
    • creating active online engagement in discussion/lecture courses (~30-60 students)
    • large class instruction
    • laboratory education
    • experiential education
    • health professional programs

The Guiding Principles document is divided by topic to allow for a quick search for the parts relevant to your teaching. Nothing is prescriptive; everything is intended as something to think about when adapting to online teaching and learning. We hope you find these principles helpful for adapting your course for the fall so that the online format works effectively for you and your students.
View Guiding Principles


Doing anti-racism work in academia

Activating solidarity: A guide to anti-racism work

Racism is something that profoundly impacts the experiences and day-to-day lives of students, faculty, staff and other members of the higher education community. Acknowledging that anti-racism work is not a one time action, the UBC Equity and Inclusion Office has created a guide of curated anti-racism resources. With structured recommendations and space for reflection, the guide has been designed to educate and to inspire action. Additionally, the Equity and Inclusion Office is regularly updating its Together Against Racism page with new resources, articles and events to help everyone stay updated on community efforts to tackle racism on campus and beyond.
Learn about anti-racism work

Doing anti-racist academic work

This article explores how academics can ensure their work is actively anti-racist and includes a series of community-generated ideas for ways to begin dismantling structural racism in academia. Recommendations discuss how to practice anti-racist research, perform anti-racist service and how to be anti-racist in teaching and training.
Read the recommendations

Online teaching and learning advice

Turns out you can build community in a Zoom classroom

Rachel Toor shares her experience teaching on Zoom and the strategies she’s used to build community in her class. One class asked students to write a personal essay every week, sharing their challenges during COVID-19 to establish trust and sympathy in her course. Students could share in small groups and provide comments to one another. She further considered other ways of creating a sense of community in a virtual space (e.g., using breakout rooms, chat), but also reducing the stress around assignments with submissions due at the same time each week, and more personal interactions through emails, office hours, and giving students more responsibility in their learning.
Create a community on Zoom

Beyond text: Multimodal assignments

This site aims to help instructors and students create compelling media assignments to communicate information related to course content. It includes advice for implementation, ideas for projects, student-facing resources, nifty tools, and rubrics and assessment strategies for grading that take into account project objectives and how knowledge is demonstrated in the work.
Learn about multimodal assignments

Removing barriers to online learning through a teaching and learning lens

BCcampus recently published an evidence-based report on strategies to improve online learning conditions for a diverse spectrum of students. The report examines themes of access to materials, digital literacy, quality of instruction and resources, and pedagogy. Key takeaways include that courses should have flexibility and adaptive measures built into them, conducting a needs assessment at the beginning of the course to understand students’ previous experiences with online learning can improve the quality of the student experience, and that online instruction needs to be humanized, personalized, individualized, proactive and present.
Remove barriers to online learning (PDF)

What surveys tell us about remote teaching and learning

What kept students remotely satisfied this spring? Well-designed and well-delivered courses

This Inside Higher Education article looks at two recently published national studies in the United States by the Every Learner Everywhere Network, which focussed on the student and instructor experiences of transitioning to remote teaching in the spring as a consequence of COVID-19. The student-focussed survey, Suddenly online: A national survey of undergraduates during the COVID-19 pandemic, is based upon feedback from 1,008 students. It provides data relating to student satisfaction with remote courses and student responses to different instructional approaches they encountered in rapidly transitioned courses. The survey results include data breaking out responses from students based upon race and ethnicity. The instructor-focussed survey Time for class: A national survey of faculty during COVID-19 surveyed 4,798 instructors at 1,500 US institutions. It provides a range of interesting insights about challenges faculty faced in the transition to remote teaching and a series of recommendations concerning institutional strategies and supports that are needed to assist faculty and students in the fall.
View data

Remote delivery experiences and advice: Lessons learned from winter 2020

This article summarizes a panel discussion with faculty at McGill University who reflected on experiences and lessons learned from the transition to remote learning during the winter 2020 semester. Faculty discussed topics such as: using online tools to promote active learning, broadening accessibility for student questions, the importance of clear instructions and virtual demonstrations, increasing peer to peer feedback and adaptive assessments.
Read about their learnings

Lessons from spring for a successful fall

The Trinity College Office of Assessment at Duke University conducted a comprehensive evaluation of student experience with remote teaching during the spring, and summer term one, through a combination of surveys and focus groups. The results were analyzed and compiled into a list of data-informed recommendations for fall. These include suggested strategies for student wellness and engagement, effective communications, using technology effectively, remote teaching and learning, assessments, academic integrity and high-impact experiences.
View recommendations


Enjoyed reading about the Guiding Principles for Fall 2020? Learn about other topics we covered in the July 2020 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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