Key principles of effective teaching

The most effective teaching is that which enables the most effective learning. In his book Learning to teach in higher education, Ramsden (2003) highlights six key principles for effective teaching. The table below is a shortened dot point version to consider when planning for effective teaching practices. 

View the full version, and additional resources developed by Ramsden in his career as a policy analyst, author and consultant in teaching and learning in higher education in Australia and the UK.

Interest and explanation
  • Make the subject matter interesting.
  • Arouse student curiosity.
  • Provide clear explanations and remember to clarify the reasons why a particular fact or skill is essential for understanding the whole.
Concern and respect for students and student learning
  • Take an interest in what students know and don't know.
  • Be generous and give students the benefit of the doubt.
  • Challenge students, but simultaneously make it easy for them to master the ideas and facts.
  • Strive to make the difficult parts easy.
Appropriate assessment and feedback
  • Set the right assessment and match them to the material to be learned.
  • Question students in a way that demands evidence of understanding.
  • Ensure feedback focuses on what they still need to study to get it right.
  • Make sure students know and feel comfortable in admitting they've got more to learn.
Clear goals and intellectual challenge
  • Consistent high academic expectations produce better student performance.
  • Provide clear statements of course goals, student expectations and efforts, teacher expectations and efforts.
Independence, control and engagement
  • Ensure content is engaging and delivered in way to reach understanding.
  • Allow students the space to learn at their own pace and their own sequence.
  • Provide a balance between students feeling in control of their learning and well supported with teacher direction.
Learning from students
  • Acknowledge the relationship between teaching, learning and content as problematic, uncertain and relative.
  • Evaluation of teaching practices highlights successes, challenges and identifies modifications to create more effective teaching practices.

Considering international students

Being responsive to a diverse student cohort while also needing to prepare them for life as university graduates can be daunting. The resources available on the Internationalisation of the Curriculum website can assist you with addressing some of the demands being placed on teaching staff. These can include developing strategies to engage your students, responding to their various needs as learners and assisting them with acquiring skills for global citizenship. Visit the IoC website for a range of resources to help you.

Further information and resources