Planning an Effective Class Session

1e: Planning an Effective Class Session

In this module, faculty learn how to effectively leverage each portion of a class session or online course module to positively impact student learning. The module includes techniques designed to engage students at the start of a learning session—the most critical learning time—with a powerful opening. Faculty also learn strategies to segment learning with active learning practices and end by engaging students in summary activities.

In an online course, instructors plan by module rather than by class session. While the same principles for planning an effective class apply to planning an effective online module, this module also provides a set of practices that are specific to online teaching.

To satisfy the module requirements, faculty must apply one or more techniques to plan a class session or online module with an effective start, middle, and end.

Advising Subject Matter Expert(s)

Featured Faculty

Module References

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Chase, B., Germundsen, R., Cady Brownstein, J., & Schaak Distad, L. (2001). Making the connection between increased student learning and reflective practice. Educational Horizons, 79, 143–147.

Fuchs, A. H. (1997). Ebbinghaus’s contributions to psychology after 1885. American Journal of Psychology, 110, 621–634.

Gazzaniga, M. S., Ivry, R. B., & Mangun, G. R. (2002). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Norton.

Lang, J. M. (2008). On course: A week-by-week guide to your first semester of college teaching. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lang, J. M. (2016, January 25). Small changes in teaching: The first 5 minutes of class. Vitae. Retrieved from 

Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press

Moore, M. G. (2013). Handbook of distance education. New York: Routledge.

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Sousa, D. A. (2011). How the brain learns (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Twigg, C. A. (2003). Improving learning and reducing costs: New models for online learning. EDUCAUSE Review, 38(5), 28–38.

Wieman, C. (2016). Observation guide for active-learning classroom. Retrieved from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia website: 


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