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Keeping Us Engaged: Student Perspectives (And Research-Evidence) on What Works and Why

Expected February 2021.

This book offers faculty practical strategies to engage students that are grounded in research and endorsed by students themselves.  Through student stories, a signature feature of this book, readers will discover why professor actions result in changed attitudes, stronger connections to others and the course material, and increased learning.

Structured to cover the key moments and opportunities to increase student engagement, Christine Harrington covers the all-important first day of class where first impressions can determine students’ attitudes for the duration of the course, through to insights for rethinking assignments and enlivening teaching strategies, to ways of providing feedback that build students’ confidence and spur them to greater immersion in their studies, providing the underlying rationale for the strategies she presents. The student narratives not only validate these practices, offering their perspectives as learners, but constitute a trove of ideas and practices that readers will be inspired to adapt for their particular needs.

Conscious of the changing demographics of today’s undergraduate and graduate students – racially more diverse, older, and many employed – Harrington highlights the need to engage all students and shares numerous strategies on how to do so. While many of the ideas presented were used by faculty teaching face to face classes, a number were developed by faculty teaching online, and the majority can be adapted to virtually any teaching environment.

Based on student-centered active learning principles, structured to allow readers to quickly identify practices that they may need in particular instances or to infuse in a course as a whole, and presented without jargon, this book is a springboard for all faculty looking for ideas that will engage their students at any level and in any course.

Ensuring Learning: Supporting Faculty to Improve Student Success

Ensuring Learning: Supporting Faculty to Improve Student Success is the second book in a two-book series. This book highlights the importance of teaching and learning in student success reform and is a deep dive into the fourth pillar, ensuring learning, of Guided Pathways which is a national movement focused on increasing the number of college students who earn a degree or credential. It emphasizes how institutional strategies such as investing in faculty development through Centers for Teaching and Learning and revising reward structures can significantly improve student achievement and completion rates. This book calls for colleges to prioritize teaching and learning and provides college leaders with guidance on how to do so. For example, strategies to develop and enhance Centers for Teaching and Learning and increase professional development programming that provides ongoing, substantial support to faculty are shared. Readers will benefit from numerous practical suggestions on how to help faculty improve teaching and learning practices and ultimately improve student success outcomes.

Engaging Faculty in Guided Pathways: A Practical Resource for College Leaders

Engaging faculty in Guided Pathways: A Practical Resource for College Leaders is the first book in a two-book series. It describes the important role of college faculty in student success reform efforts. In particular, it maps out the faculty role in Guided Pathways, a national movement focused on increasing the number of students who earn a degree or credential. It summarizes the primary tasks associated with the four essential practices of Guided Pathways: determining paths, helping students choose a path, helping students stay on a path, and ensuring learning. This book highlights the need for faculty engagement in all aspects of this work and provides practical suggestions and strategies to engage and empower both full and part-time faculty in this work. Moving the needle on student success outcomes requires high-levels of faculty engagement. Colleges are encouraged to invite full and part-time faculty to the table for important conversations about student success reform and to encourage and support faculty leadership in these institutional efforts. Readers will benefit from numerous practical suggestions.

Why the First-Year Seminar Matters

Why the First-Year Seminar Matters: Helping Students Choose and Stay on a Career Path provides an overview of the Guided Pathways movement and the critical role that the first-year seminar can play in setting the stage for student success. After reviewing the extensive history and research on first-year seminars, Harrington and Orosz suggest that the time is right for colleges and universities to re-imagine the first-year seminar course within the Guided Pathways framework. More specifically, by increasing the focus on career exploration and decision-making and addressing key success skills students need, the first-year seminar can serve as an essential foundational element of Guided Pathways. Readers will find the practical suggestions on how to engage in backward course redesign and the making the case data helpful as they aim to address equity gaps and require this course of all incoming first-year students. 

A research-based first-year seminar textbook that uses a Guided Pathways framework to help students choose and stay on a path, published by Cengage Learning.  MindTap, an interactive e-book with numerous online resources is available. Included in the Cengage Unlimited subscription.



Dynamic Lecturing: Research-Based Strategies to Enhance Lecture Effectiveness

This book presents up-to-date research on the different types of lecture, on what constitutes effective lecturing, and on the impact of lecturing when done appropriately and well. It fills the void in professional development resources on how to lecture, validating the practice when it’s aligned with the educational mission of creating engaged learning environments.They present a range of strategies that enhance student learning during lectures. They open each chapter with the evidence behind each lecturing strategy they describe, and conclude with practical suggestions for quick application in the classroom. They offer readers the lecture planning and evaluation tools for reworking their lectures in ways that provide high-level engagement and achievement for their students.This is a dynamic resource for all faculty interested in revitalizing their teaching. The strategies are succinct, easy to incorporate into lectures and, done well, will have immediate impact and increase student mastery of course content.

Designing a Motivational Syllabus: Creating a Learning Path for Student Engagement

This book demonstrates how, rather than being a mundane document to convey policies, you can construct your syllabus to be a motivating resource that conveys a clear sense of your course’s learning goals, how students can achieve those goals, and makes evident your teaching philosophy and why you have adopted the teaching strategies you will use, such as discussion or group activities.The authors show how, by adopting a welcoming tone and clearly stating learning outcomes, your syllabus can engage students by explaining the relevance of your course to their studies, create an all-important positive first impression of you as an instructor, and guide students through the resources you will be using, the assignments ahead, as well as clear guidance on how they will be assessed. Referred to frequently as the course progresses, an effective syllabus will keep students engaged and on task. Christine Harrington and Melissa Thomas lead you through all the elements of a syllabus to help you identify how to present key messages and information about your course, think through the impressions you want to create, and, equally importantly, suggest how you can use layout and elements such as images and charts to make your syllabus visually appealing and easy to navigate.

An exploration of critical thinking skills students need and how faculty can support students in developing these essential skills.  Practical strategies and case studies are provided.

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Professional Development Videos

Using Feedback to Improve Student Learning Webinar

Presented at William Paterson University's Virtual Teaching and Learning Conference May 2020

Dynamic Lecturing Webinar

Presented at William Paterson University's Virtual Teaching and Learning Conference May 2020

Beyond Discussion Forums: Engaging Online Learners

Presented at New Jersey City University January 2020

The Syllabus Can Do That? Strategies to Motivate and Engage Students Before the Semester Begins

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Webinar sponsored by Stylus Publishing.

Increasing Academic Rigor in First-Year Seminar Courses

Plenary speech at the 36th Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Creating a Powerful Syllabus

Discover how your syllabus can be used as a motivational and informational resource to help students be successful.

Dynamic Lecturing

In this video, you'll discover research that demonstrates the value of lecturing and perhaps more importantly several strategies you can use to enhance or improve your lectures.

The Value of Teaching Research

In this video, we'll explore the value of teaching first-year seminar students about peer-reviewed research.

Teaching Students about Research

This video focuses on how to teach first-year students about research, emphasizing the different components of a peer-reviewed research article.

The Jigsaw Classroom Exercise

The Jigsaw Classroom Exercise is an excellent example of how to effectively use group work in class.  In this video, you will see how the Jigsaw Classroom Exercise works.  You'll discover how this approach gets every student engaged and why this approach is so effective.

Group and Presentation Skills

In this video, we'll discuss strategies to help students function effectively in groups.  We'll also focus on how we can help students apply Mayer's (2008) multi-media principles to create amazing presentations.

Goal Setting and a Visual Imagery Activity

Discover the ABC'S Approach to Goal Setting:  Aim High, Believe in Yourself, Care and Commit, and Specify and Self-Reflect and the importance of teaching students about goal setting.  In this video, you'll also see a visual imagery activity demonstrated.

Outcome Driven Design

Explore outcomes driven design to improve student learning. In particular, the backwards design process will be reviewed.

Creating a Welcoming Environment

Discover strategies you can use at the start of the semester to create a welcoming environment that fosters inclusion and learning.

Group Work

Explore strategies to increase learning through group work.

Written and Verbal Feedback

Explore ways to improve the quality of feedback provided to students without taxing your time.

Peer Feedback

Discover strategies to improve how students give and receive feedback.

Getting Students to Read their Textbook

Explore the research on whether students read their textbook and strategies to increase the likelihood that they will do so.

Online Discussions

Explore strategies to create effective online discussion prompts and facilitate meaningful online conversations.

Grading Policies

Do your grading policies result in student grades that accurately capture whether or not a student has achieved the course learning outcomes?  During this presentation, several grading policy issues will be discussed.

Academic Integrity: A Video for Students

This video was created to help students learn about academic integrity and how to avoid unintentional dishonest actions.

Academic Integrity: A Video for Faculty

Explore how you as a faculty member can promote academic integrity among students.

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Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • Harrington, C., Lyken-Segosebe, D., Braxton, J., & Nespoli, L. A. (in press).  Community college faculty engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning:  A critical component of guided pathways student success reform.  New Directions for Community Colleges:  Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Community College.  

  • Harrington, C., & Rogalski, D. (2020). Accelerated learning programs for high school students. Journal of Developmental Education, 43(3), 2-11.

  • Harrington, C., & Melendez, J. (2020). Launching an Ed.D. in community college leadership program with activism in mind.  Impacting Education:  Journal on Transforming Professional Practice.5(2), 11-19. https://impactinged.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/ImpactingEd/article/view/114 

  • Harington, C. (2020).  Envisioning public scholarship for our times: Models for higher education reform book review. Impacting Education:  Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 5(1), 33-35.  10.5195/ie.2020.117

  • Aloni, M., & Harrington, C. (2018).  Research-based practices for improving the effectiveness of asynchronous online discussion boards. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 4(4), 271-289.

  • Harrington, C., & Gabert-Quillen, C. (2015).  Syllabus length and use of images:  An empirical investigation of student perceptions.  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 1(3), 235-243. 

  • Dynamic Lecturing in First-Year Courses:  Continuing a Proven Tradition

  • Using Peer-Reviewed Research to Teach Study Skills in First-Year Seminars

Podcasts, Blogs and Other Articles

Sample Syllabi

A Syllabus Checklist

This syllabus checklist provides an overview of key content that should be included in the syllabus and poses questions to consider as you strive to use your syllabus as a motivational tool.  For a syllabus rubric and additional information, check out Designing a Motivational Syllabus:  Creating a Learning Path for Student Engagement.

Student Success Course

A first-year seminar syllabus that focuses on both career exploration and developing strategies for academic success.

Student Success Course

A backwards design approach to the student success course syllabus that can be easily customized.

Lifespan Development

A syllabus for Lifespan Development.  This syllabus has been peer-reviewed and identified as an exemplar by Project Syllabus, Teaching of Psychology, American Psychological Association.

Educational Psychology

A syllabus for Educational Psychology.  This syllabus has been peer-reviewed and identified as an exemplar by Project Syllabus, Teaching of Psychology, American Psychological Association.

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Presentation Handouts

Keeping Us Engaged FYE 2021 3.jpg
Keeping Us Engaged:  Student Perspectives (and Research-Based Strategies) on What Works and Why

Presented at FYE Conference February 18, 2021

Dynamic Lecturing

Presented at the ACCA  Scholarship of Pedagogy Conference, November 14, 2020

Engaging Full and Part-Time Faculty in Guided Pathways

League for Innovation in Community Colleges, Seattle, WA

Service Learning and Leadership Development Programs

League for Innovation in Community Colleges, Seattle WA

Equity-Minded Teaching Practices and Policies

FYE, Washington DC, 2020

Why the First Year Seminar Matters

FYE, Washington DC, 2020

Beyond Traditional Career Activities in FYS: Engaging Students in Networking

FYE, Washington DC, 2020

Pathways to Becoming a Campus Leader

FYE Conference, Washington DC, 2020

Motivational Syllabus Bootcamp

Preconference Session, FYE in Washington DC 2020

Engaging Online Learners

New Jersey City University January 2020

Course Design Institute

Presented at 2-Day Institute at North Carolina Center for Student Success

Developmental Education meets Dual Enrollment: ALP for High School Students

Presented at League for Innovation at Community Colleges, Manhattan, NY

Institutional Strategies for Career Planning: Guided Pathways in Action

Presented with Sabrina Mathues at the Annual Conference of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, Las Vegas, NV

Training and Supporting Part-Time First-Year Seminar Instructors

Presented with Maria Buchta at the Annual Conference of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, Las Vegas, NV

Designing a Motivational Syllabus

Presented with Melissa Thomas at the Annual Conference of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, Las Vegas, NV

Exploring the Why behind Our Grading and Classroom Policies

Presented at the Annual Conference of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, Las Vegas, NV

Guided Pathways: Critical Role of Teaching and Learning Centers in Improving Student Success

Presented with David Alstadt at POD Conference in Portland, Oregon.


Improving Student Success through Teaching and Learning Center and First-Year Experience Partnership

Presented with Chris Hakala at POD Conference in Portland, Oregon

The First-Year Seminar: An Essential Component of Guided Pathways

Presented to Oregon and Washington state in Portland Oregon

Draft Learning Outcomes and Course Content Areas

Re-designing the First-Year Seminar to Increase Student Success

Presented at the SUNY Student Success Summit, Albany, NY

The First-Year Seminar: An Essential Component of Guided Pathways

Presented at the Two Year First Year Conference, Orlando FL

Sample Syllabus for First-Year Seminar

Exploring the WHY behind our Grading and Classroom Policies

Presented at Lilly Teaching and Learning Conference in Bethesda MD 2018

Designing a Motivational Syllabus

Lilly Teaching and Learning Conference in Bethesda MD and the Annual Conference on the First-Year Seminar in San Antonio TX 2018

Click here for Syllabus Checklist

Click here for sample First-Year Seminar Syllabus

Click here for sample Educational Psychology Syllabus (in appendix of Designing a Motivational Syllabus book)

Strengthening Your Career Guidance Skills: Questioning as an Engagement Strategy

NACADA Regional Conference, March 2018

Using the Science of Motivation to Engage All Learners

Annual FYE Conference, Pre-Conference Session 2018

Dynamic Lecturing

FYE Annual Conference, 2018

Helping Students Choose a Career Path: Engaging Students in Career Exploration

Presented at New Jersey Advocates for New Students Association (NJANSA) Conference on October 20, 2017

Increasing Academic Rigor in the First-Year Seminar

Plenary Address at FYE conference 2017

Infusing Research-Based Study Skills into First-Year Classes: What Works?

Presented at FYE Conference, 2017

Rock, Rigor, and Roll in Action: Building Student Success into Your First-Year Seminar Syllabus

Presented at FYE Annual Conference, Co-Presented with Stephanie Foote, David Sabol, and Lee Anne Thompson, 2017

Maximizing Learning via Feedback: In Person and Online Strategies

Presented at the Engaging Learners in the 21st Century Conference on August 24, 2016 at Mercer County College NJ

Study Skills: The Faculty Role

Presented at the Lilly Teaching and Learning Conference in Bethesda MD  June 2016

Exploring the Flipped Classroom: Does it Work?

Presented at the Lilly Teaching and Learning Conference in Bethesda MD  June 2016

Beyond Interests and Abilities: A More Comprehensive Approach to Career Exploration

Webinar sponsored by Cengage Learning.

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