Coplin’s Principles for Undergraduate Teaching

1. When designing a course, decide whether or not you want to treat students as scholars within your field or as users of your knowledge and skills outside of the field. In most cases, you can’t do both.

2. Clearly Distinguish between Stuff Goals and Skill Goals

Skills require modeling and student practice
Stuff can be delivered through lectures, reading, videos, simulations and research
3. Always start with the concrete; never start with the abstract

4. Use a two-fold grading system

Points Gained
Points Lost –writing mistakes, lateness, disorganization
5. Use undergraduate teaching assistants to:

Take role
Punish misbehavior like Texting Obsession Syndrome (TOS)
Grade papers using a clear rubric
Tutor and mentor students
6. Promote student participation by:

Keeping your mouth shut and looking for student discussion
When reacting to what students say, comment on the positive and if you have something negative to say, ask the class what they think first
Break the class into groups and use extra credit points to create competition among these groups
If you ask a question and there is silence, say talk to the person next to you and come up with an answer
All of these are tips I have successfully implemented in my classroom. Please don’t hesitate to contact me about any of the above principles; I would be honored to discuss these and others.