Methods, Pedagogy, and Technology

Teaching methods are the approaches of learner engagement you pursue as the educator in the classroom. Do you play the role of learning facilitator, coach, and/or content expert? There are four main schools of teaching methods and it is very helpful to let your students know at the beginning of the semester which approach you subscribe to and why.

  1. Teacher-centered methods
  2. Learner-centered methods
  3. Content-focused methods
  4. Interactive/participative methods

The curricular structure developed in the syllabus needs to be put into action through deliberate pedagogy, methods of teaching, and the integration of technology where appropriate. This is as important for interdisciplinary electives as it is for structured prerequisite courses that have threshold concepts that must be learned to advance in the program. The construction of teachable units, whereby faculty develop instructional materials with goals and evaluation in mind are created by combining the teaching method with the pedagogical strategies inside that approach. When used appropriately, technology can help students to interact with the content of the course, as well as engage with each other.

Trauma-Informed Teaching

The anxieties and dislocations brought on by COVID-19 induced changes to how we work and live can negatively impact learning. The added stresses student experience can impact their abilities to self-regulate learning behaviors and focus on their work. It is important to devise strategies for your course design and classroom to support learning during trauma, not least because of COVID-19. In general this involves being flexible and allowing students to use their voices to make choices about their learning.

Teaching during trauma and crisis approaches are well detailed on the Yale-NUS College CTL website.

Assessing Students' Prior Knowledge

In your course design, build in activities and space for conversations around students’ prior knowledge.

Here are six steps, adapted from Ambrose et al. How Learning Works, you can take to better understand your students’ prior knowledge

Small Group Discussions

Low-structure teaching methods can leave some learners behind and hinder participation. Adding structure to each lesson, each week, and the course, enables a more inclusive learning experience for all your students.

Adding structure to small groups/small classes

  • Take time to teach students how to participate in small groups
  • Assign and rotate roles
  • Provide clear instructions on a screen or worksheet

Three Examples of Activities for Small Groups

Note that these work well in online learning as well as in face-to-face formats.


  • Get comfortable with the silence so that all students have the time they need to think
  • “I’ll give you two minutes to think or write silently, and then I’ll prompt you to pair up with your classmates.”

Source: VIJI SATHY and KELLY A. HOGAN, Want to Reach All of Your Students? Here’s How to Make Your Teaching More Inclusive July 2019


Answer a question in the full group. One person can record the answers. You can optionally arrange the list into two or more categories to get at higher order thinking.
Example Question: What does a plant need to survive?
Categories: abiotic vs. biotic factors.


  • Elicits responses and aggregates them into a single list
  • Provides an overview of the group’s collective knowledge
  • By categorizing, students must evaluate how well they understand the role of each response in a specific context

Source: Jo Handelsman; Sarah Miller; Christine Pfund, Scientific Teaching, Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, W.H. Freeman & Co, [2007]

Mini Mind Map

Arrange the following terms in a logical order. Explain (using arrows or words) how the terms relate to each other.
Example terms: tRNA, DNA, protein, mRNA, amino acid, translation, transcription, replication, and promoter.

Objectives: Mini-maps engage students in developing a non-verbal representation of a concept. The process of developing a visual arrangement requires students to evaluate different ways that terms can relate to each other and to appreciate that a biological process (or economic one, or historical one, or theatrical one) may not be unidirectional or linear.

Source: Jo Handelsman; Sarah Miller; Christine Pfund, Scientific Teaching, Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, W.H. Freeman & Co, [2007]

Documenting and Measuring your inclusive efforts

  1. Document your efforts
  2. Survey the students
  3. Ask a colleague to observe your class
  4. Collect data on student learning through the AART dashboard in NYU Classes

Teaching with Technology

Humans are crucial to inclusive teaching, and using tech successfully in the classroom starts with relationships.

Bryan Dewsbury, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Rhode Island.

There are extensive resources available across the NYU Global Network with tutorials on how to deploy online tools for the remote delivery of your course. Below are some useful likes to tutorials and further resources.

Technology tools can help organize course materials, student ideation, and assessment. NYU Abu Dhabi uses the learning management system, NYU Classes to help you organize your course. Inside this tool there are messaging features, assignment submission pages, a Chat Room tool, Discussion Forum, and a Resources folder. Together, these folders can help you to organise a “Lesson” folder where all the materials for a given week are in one place for your students.

For remote instruction options we deploy Zoom for live small group discussions, small break out groups, and recording and transcribing lectures.
There are extensive resources available on how to deploy Zoom for learning.

Here are a series of tutorials on how to use Zoom and its many features:

It is important to inform yourself about privacy features and safety features of using Zoom.

Additional Resources