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Teaching After the Pandemic

In the beginning of April, we asked faculty to share with us which teaching strategies and technologies they discovered during the online pivot they would continue using once we returned to mostly face-to-face instruction. Faculty from across the University responded and provided some really great ideas about pandemic-inspired methods that they feel will improve student learning and engagement when we return to more in-class instruction.

On the page below, we have summarized the results of the survey and provided separate sets of recommendations for teaching strategies and technologies.

Teaching Strategies

Flipped Classroom Strategies

The teaching strategies most respondents reported they would continue using following the pandemic were variations of the “flipped classroom” design. This method, where faculty create video or other multimedia lectures for students to watch outside of class so that class time can be devoted to active learning exercises, was widely adopted during the pandemic for both hybrid and online classes. Faculty found that this method not only allowed them to make best use of their synchronous sessions, but also helped improve student engagement and participation—student behaviors the faculty want to continue to encourage following the return to more face-to-face instruction. As more than one faculty member has said, “I will never lecture again.”

Some Further Resources:

For more about the flipped classroom design, see our Faculty Teaching Profile for Saje Davis-Risen. We also have some more in-depth articles on creating instructional video and flipped classroom design in Week 3: Lively Lectures and Vivacious Videos of the Summer 2020 Faculty Learning Community on Moodle (requires a Pacific log-in and you will be prompted to enroll in the Moodle course if you have not already done so).

Virtual Office Hours

Another overwhelmingly popular idea from our respondents was holding virtual office hours over Zoom. Those that used virtual office hours reported that they had more students attend these sessions than when they had conducted physical office hours, and they felt it provided more equitable access to the resource—particularly for those students who would have issues making it to campus. Our respondents also felt that these benefits would continue after the return to face-to-face instruction, and they would like to continue offering this opportunity to their students.

Some Further Resources:

For more on holding virtual office hours, see this article from Northern Illinois University – Connecting with Students in Online Courses: Options for Virtual Office Hours.

Small Group Work and Team-based Assignments

Many of our faculty respondents reported that they had successfully used various kinds of small group and team work in both their online and hybrid classes. They felt that these methods helped make their classes more engaging, encouraged deeper and broader discussions, and improved student performance. Needless to say, they reported that they will continue to use these strategies when we return to normal instruction. Some of the particular methods they used were:

  • Holding a brief ten to fifteen minute lecture and then having small group discussion based on the content just covered. Following the discussion, having a whole class debrief where different groups can report on what they discussed.
  • Providing problem sets, cases, or questions to the class and having them work through these assignments in small groups.
  • Having small groups work on creative or interesting multimedia assignments outside of class such as developing Ted-type lectures or creating infographics.
  • Transferring group or team work that was ordinarily done in class to outside of class, which provides students with more time to work on and process an activity.
  • Having consistent teams or “tutorials” throughout the semester who work on problems together or conduct small group discussions.
Some Further Resources:

For further tips on using small groups in your classes, see this article from University of Chicago – Suggestions for Using Small Groups in the Classroom.

Class Warm-up Activities

Several faculty reported that they created different kinds of class warm-up activities to help kickstart the beginning of their synchronous sessions. They felt that this was particularly important this past year to help students transition from thinking about the stressful events occurring in the world at large to focusing on their studies. While many of these faculty developed these strategies specifically for the pandemic, they feel that the activities improved overall engagement in their courses and they will continue to use classroom warm-up activities after the return to face-to-face instruction.

Some of the warm-up activities that our faculty reported were successful in their courses were:

  • Beginning class with a short calisthenic or yoga-type exercise.
  • Having a short game or competition at the beginning of class. Some instructors had these games be related to class content while others did not.
  • Providing time at the beginning of class for free discussion to allow students to process and deal with issues in the world at large before continuing on to class time.
Some Further Resources:

See this page from the Cult of Pedagogy Blog on Anticipatory Set Activities. Mark Szymanski from the College of Education spoke about Visual Thinking Strategies at our CETCI Blended and Online Faculty Learning Community – great strategies to incorporate into your warm-up toolkit.

Formative Quizzing and Testing Practices

Delivering high-stakes exams online has a number of challenges, from maintaining academic integrity to ensuring proper testing conditions. To mitigate these challenges, many faculty changed their assessment strategies to rely less on a small number of high-stakes exams. Among our respondents, two popular and related ways to do this was to make their quizzes and tests more formative—in other words, to make their quizzes and tests into learning activities that would help their students master their course material–and to reduce the stakes of any individual assessment. These faculty felt that these changes improved student performance in their courses and they will continue using these practices following the pandemic.

Some of the particular practices our respondents will continue to use include:

  • Using frequent low-stakes quizzes to supplement or even replace a single high-stakes exam.
  • Using predictive quizzes: quizzes given prior to an activity or learning unit that ask students to predict results or outcomes.
  • Using group quizzes or having a section of an exam that is based on group work to provide opportunities for students to learn from each other during an assessment.
Some Further Resources:

For more some more tips on formative assessment strategies see this article from the Innovative Instructor Blog – Quick Tips: Formative Assessment Strategies
at John Hopkins University and this K-12 focused list of formative assessment ideas from the Northwest Education Association article: 27 easy formative assessment strategies for gathering evidence of student learning.

Asynchronous Teaching Methods and Course Components

Several faculty reported that they wanted to continue to use asynchronous methods in their classes following the Pandemic. In other words, they wanted to continue to have students do work outside of class on their own time that normally would have been done in person in a face-to-face class. One instructor was even planning on continuing to have an entire asynchronous track for each of their courses so that students who were not able to attend a particular class session due to sickness or other issue would be able to keep up with their work. We do need to note that you must check with your department, school, or college for the appropriate policies and procedures before you adjust the requirements for in-person attendance.

Checking Understanding and Garnering Feedback

A number of respondents wanted to make sure they were keeping track of their students’ progress holistically throughout the semester, not just when they had a graded assignment due. These faculty used a variety of methods to both check how their students were doing academically as well as to understand their overall engagement with the course. Some of these strategies included:

  • Learning logs: The faculty using this method had their students write about their engagement with the class each week in a Google Doc. The instructor then read and commented on the logs, keeping a running record throughout the course.
  • Exit tickets: With this well established K-12 method, students answer a brief prompt about what they felt was clear during that days activities and/or what they still feel uncertain about before they leave the class.
  • Journaling: Several faculty had their students keep running journals about their engagement with various course materials.
Some Further Resources:

Jay McTighe provides this nice list of understanding checks on the K-12 focused Edutopia site. The Teaching Channel Blog offers some additional tips here. Jon Gustafson offers a nice structure for when and how to add understanding checks in his Checking For Understanding: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Questioning blog post.

Asynchronous Discussions

Our respondents reported that using asynchronous discussions helped students prepare for their synchronous sessions in both hybrid and online courses and improved overall engagement in their courses. Usually held in the “forum” tool in Moodle, these activities allow students to write messages to their professor and each other that the rest of the class can also see and comment on. Some of the activities that faculty found particularly effective and which they intend to keep using following the Pandemic are:

  • Using discussion forum prompts to have students write responses that will directly prepare them for in-class discussion.
  • Having students write about or engage with the course readings.
  • Use discussion forums for peer review. In this strategy, students post a draft of a paper or other work and other students in the class provide their commentary or feedback on how to improve the work.
Some Further Resources:

We have more in-depth information and articles on constructing effective online discussions in Week 4: Online Discussions that Enrich, Engage, and Energize from the Summer 2020 Faculty Learning Community Moodle site and the CETCI 2020 Summer Retreat Series: Effective Online Writing and Discussion Strategies also on Moodle (both sites require a Pacific log-in and will prompt you to enroll in the courses if you have not done so already).



Overwhelmingly, faculty wanted to continue using Zoom in their teaching. Some of the specific ways people wanted to use Zoom were to:

    • Support virtual office hours and individual meetings with students
    • Have guest speakers join class
    • Support teaching online
    • Close caption lectures
    • Record or capture lectures
    • Meet students on clinical rotations or who were otherwise remote from campus
Some Further Resources:

For more information about using Zoom, see our Pacific Zoom tutorials. Also, take a look at our presentation on creating an engaging Zoom session.

Collaborative Software

Many respondents felt that collaborative software like Google Jamboard or Padlet would continue to be useful after the Pandemic. This group of faculty found the software useful to:

      • Support small group work
      • Help with brainstorming either for the full class or in small groups
      • Help support virtual office hours
Some Further Resources:

Google Jamboard is included with Pacific’s suite of Google tools and is available to all faculty and students. The EdTech vlog has a great video overview on how to use the Google Jamboard Google Jamboard.

Polling Software

A number of respondents reported that they would continue to use polling software, like PollEverywhere, to support periodic comprehension checks during live classes, record answers for questions posed to the class, and to conduct games and competitions.

Some Further Resources:

Pacific has PollEverywhere licenses available for faculty. Please e-mail to be added to our account. PollEverywhere also has a nice introductory blog post: Great ways to use Poll Everywhere in the classroom with ideas about how to use polling in a college classroom.


Many faculty also reported that they would use Moodle more intensively following the Pandemic. Functions that faculty would use more include:

      • Quizzing and testing features
      • Discussion forums
      • Grading
      • Interactive H5P content
      • The Book feature
Some Further Resources:

We have extensive tutorials and help documents for Moodle on our website here.

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