A study at Bradley was undertaken to identify best practices for using Canvas in teaching and learning. The goal of the research was to develop recommendations for effective teaching using Canvas as a course supplement. A related goal was to increase student achievement and mastery of course material.
Faculty and staff from several disciplines met bi-weekly to research and discuss effective teaching. Relevant articles on best practices and effective teaching principles were examined. Presumed effective teaching principles and practices were identified and tested in the classroom, and final recommendations were drafted at the study’s end.
Based on the literature and the experience of the teaching faculty, ten principles of effective teaching were recommended: 1) create an active learning environment, 2) focus attention, 3) connect knowledge, 4) help students organize their knowledge, 5) provide timely feedback, 6) demand quality, 7) balance high expectations with student support, 8) enhance motivation to learn, 9) communicate your message in a variety of ways, and 10) help students to productively manage their time.
For example, an instructor can post problems or homework online (create an active learning environment) to be submitted prior to a traditional or online class session (help students manage their time.) The answers can be derived from reading course materials and studying narrated PowerPoint slides (focus attention and connect knowledge.) During a virtual classroom session an instructor can call on various students to give their answers (enhance motivation to learn.) Immediate feedback (provide timely feedback and faculty-student interaction) can be given. If correction is needed, a private message asking "are you in need of additional help" can be sent to the student (balance high expectations with necessary support.) The instructor could ask the student to explain how the answer was derived (connect knowledge.) Further, the instructor could pose a question to all students, such as "Why is the information relevant?" (help students organize their knowledge.)
The following pages describe each teaching principle in detail with examples of how the principle is applied in the classroom and with Canvas.