The Fearless Teaching Framework (FTF) is a conceptual model of an effective course based on decades of educational theory and empirical research. When instructors receive support and guidance on evidence-based approaches to teaching, their increased knowledge about teaching and learning will help them construct climates, content, practices, and assessments that motivate and engage students3,10. Each of these four pieces of effective courses can work in tandem to promote student achievement and learning.
Classroom climate refers to the sense of warmth and support within a learning context. Inclusive classrooms with open communication, supportive relationships, and a shared emphasis on promoting academic progress are considered to have a positive climate4,14,21,24,25,30. When students feel that the context is supportive, they are more likely to ask questions, ask for help, support their peers, engage deeply with material, and achieve academically1,27,31. Learn more here: tltc.umd.edu/fearless-teaching-framework-climate
Content refers to what course topics are covered in a class. Research indicates that students are more successful when course content is appropriate for their developmental stage and academic ability11. Further, students are more likely to be engaged when they understand that the content prepares them for the next courses in their sequence of study, and is relevant to their lives outside of the classroom7,13,17,23. In other words, high quality content meets students where they are, and prepares them for where they need to go6. Learn more here: tltc.umd.edu/fearless-teaching-framework-content
Research has shown that some teaching practices promote learning better than others2. For example, providing students with clear expectations and timely feedback has been shown to promote student engagement and learning, because students are better equipped to meet the demands of the course, and adjust their approach over time8. Overall, these evidence-based practices are those that rely on supportive, active, responsive pedagogy. Learn more here: tltc.umd.edu/fearless-teaching-framework-practices
Learning assessments are most productive when they are valid, reliable measures of stated learning outcomes. Assessment structures promote learning when they provide time for feedback and growth, and include a number of different methods of understanding student mastery10,12. Transparent, attainable expectations help students believe that success is possible and devote higher levels of effort in the course28. Learn more here: tltc.umd.edu/fearless-teaching-framework-assessment
Surrounding these four pieces are the institutional and ecological contexts that are often outside of the control of the instructor5. Compensation, room design, expectations for promotion, political climate, and other extraneous factors can all affect course design and student achievement9,15,16,18,29. At the same time, students come into classrooms with their own characteristics and expectations. Students differ in their interests, academic preparation, and prior experiences in school, and these differences can lead them to engage more or less in a particular course, regardless of the instructor’s design20,22,26. The framework acknowledges the role that these contexts play on learning outcomes, but we choose to focus here on what instructors can do to increase the effectiveness of their own course.
Interested in a Mid-Semester Teaching Evaluation based on the Fearless Teaching Framework? Click Here
- Alcott, B. (2017). Does teacher encouragement inﬂuence students’ educational progress? A propensity-score matching analysis. Research in Higher Education. doi:10.1007/s11162-017-9446-2
- Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M. & Lovett, M.C. (2010). How learning works: Seven Research-based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
- Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do (Professional development collection; Professional development collection). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
- Bain, K. (2012). What the best college students do. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The BelkPress of Harvard University Press.
- Bronfenbrenner, U. (1989). Ecological systems theory. Annals of Child Development, 6, 185-246
- Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1991). Applying the seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education (New directions for teaching and learning, no. 47; New directions for teaching and learning, no. 47). San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass Inc.. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/112755258/issue
- Clegg, T., & Kolodner, J. (2014). Scientizing and Cooking: Helping Middle-School Learners Develop Scientific Dispositions. Science Education, 98(1), 36–63. doi:10.1002/sce.21083
- Cohen, G. L., Steele, C. M., & Ross, L. D. (1999). The Mentor's Dilemma: Providing Critical Feedback Across the Racial Divide. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25(10), 1302-1318.
- Fairweather, J. S., & Rhoads, R. A. (1995). Teaching and the faculty role: Enhancing the commitment to instruction in American colleges and universities. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 17(2), 179-194.
- Forsyth, D. R. (2016). College Teaching: Practical Insights from the Science of Teaching and Learning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Greeno, J., Collins, A. & Resnick, L. (1996). Cognition and learning., in Berliner, D. & Calfee, R. (eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology, Macmillan, New York: 15-46
- Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research. 77(1), 81-112. doi: 10.3102/003465430298487
- Howard, T. C. (2001). Telling their side of the story: African-American students' perceptions of culturally relevant teaching. The Urban Review, 33(2), 131-149.
- Howard‐Hamilton, M. F. (2000). Creating a Culturally Responsive Learning Environment for African American Students. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2000(82), 45–53. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.8205
- Kasten, K. L. (1984). Tenure and merit pay as rewards for research, teaching, and service at a research university. The Journal of Higher Education, 55(4), 500-514.
- Kelly, S. (2004). An event history analysis of teacher attrition: Salary, teacher tracking, and socially disadvantaged schools. The Journal of Experimental Education, 72(3), 195-220. doi: 10.3200/JEXE.72.3.195-220
- Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Martin, S. H. (2002). The classroom environment and its effects on the practice of teachers. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22(1-2), 139-156.
- McKeachie, W. J., Pintrich, P.R., Lin, Y., & Smith, D. (1990). Teaching and learning in the college classroom: A review of the research literature (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning.
- Nunn, L. M. (2014). Defining School Success: The Role of School and Culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
- Pascarella, E. T. (1980). Student-Faculty Informal Contact and College Outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 50(4), 545–595. http://doi.org/10.2307/1170295
- Renninger, K. A., Hidi, S., & Krapp, A. (1992). The Role of Interest in Learning and Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
- Resnick, M., Bruckman, A., & Martin, F. (1996). Pianos not stereos: Creating computational construction kits. Interactions, 3(5), 40-50. doi:10.1145/234757.234762
- Schmuck, R. A., and P. A. Schmuck. 1968. Helping teachers improve classroom group processes. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 4(4), 401-435. doi:10.1177/002188636800400402
- Shapiro, S. (1993). Strategies that create a positive classroom climate. The Clearing House, 67(2), 91-97.
- Skinner, E. A., Furrer, C., Marchand, G., & Kindermann, T. (2008). Engagement and disaffection in the classroom: Part of a larger motivational dynamic?. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(4), 765.
- Tanner, K. D. (2013). Structure matters: Twenty-one teaching strategies to promote student engagement and cultivate classroom equity. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 322-331.
- Wigfield, A. & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 68-81.
- Wiley, S. D. (2001). Contextual effects on student achievement: School leadership and professional community. Journal of Educational Change, 2(1), 1-33.
- Wilson, R. C., & Gaff, J. G. (1975). College professors and their impact on students. New York: Wiley.
- Zubrunn, S., McKim, C., Buhs, E., & Hawley, L. R. (2014). Support, belonging, motivation, and engagement in the college classroom: A mixed method study. Instructional Science, 42, 661-684.