Jessica Guerrero, Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy

Some instructors are naturals when it comes to teaching, but like everything, teaching has evolved over the years. Pedagogy practices also highlight ways of how studying learning has changed. Research studies demonstrate that the traditional thoughts of “the instructor performing certain actions to facilitate learning, and the student, in turn, explicitly or implicitly promises to behave in ways to receive that learning” have changed (Owens & Tanner, 2017). Altogether, these changes can be looked through the lens of differentiating learning and teaching as a practice.

In practice at the University of California, Irvine, there are courses part of the Undeclared/Undergraduate Advising Program that utilize the changes in learning and teaching to foster the transition of first-year students. For example, University Studies 190 and 192 (Group Project Discussion Leaders Courses) trains a diverse group of upper-class undergraduates to teach discussion sections of first-years. University Studies 1 is the lecture portion for first-years that complements its discussion section. The lecture incorporates learning and teaching practices, including teaching students Bloom’s Taxonomy and other student development theories, for students to incorporate in their learning. Conversely, discussion sections include collaborative learning environments where ice breakers and group activities help students learn a variety of topics. Examples include campus resources, through student preparation of a campus skit, and reflection papers, where students interact with online tools to learn more about themselves in order to be successful students.

To illustrate, the techniques utilized include:

Learning Developments

  • Brain: Synaptic connections affect learning and memory when students are exposed to concepts in a variety of ways, using repetition as a key to learning (Owens & Tanner, 2017).
  • Student Learning Outcomes: Clear and well-thought out outcomes or standards of learning facilitates the learning experience and expectations.
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy: Classifying student learning experiences through the stages of remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create (Armstrong, 2018).

Teaching Practices

  • Backward Course Design: A technique in teaching that focuses on designing learning experiences first, ensures outcomes are met second, and connects to final assessment last (Caruana, 2015).
  • Active Learning Practices: When designing a lesson plan, prepare active learning activities that engage students and facilitate a more collaborative learning environment (Examples: Kahoot!, Jigsaw, Speedfriending, etc.)
  • Final Assessment: Every class generally ends with a final assessment, but making sure students get the most out the exam, test, or assessment by choosing a formative rather than asummative approach (Examples: quizzes, portfolios, projects, etc.) (Dixson & Worrell, 2016).

Learning and teaching practices are complementary to each other and make the learning and teaching process more effective and enjoyable.

2018-2019 Discussion Leaders


Armstrong, P. (2018). Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Caruana, V. (2015). How a Course Map Puts You on Track for Better Learning Outcomes.

Dixson, D., & Worrell, F. (2016). Formative and Summative Assessment in the Classroom, Theory Into Practice, 55:2, 153-159.

Owens, M., & Tanner, K. (2017). Teaching as Brain Changing: Exploring Connections between Neuroscience and Innovative Teaching. PubMed16(2).

Matthew Mahavongtrakul edited this post on June 4th, 2019.