This summer, the CETL will be presenting one tip per week, to provide a more in-depth discussion of evidence-based teaching practices. If there are specific topics you would like to see CETL explore, please let us know! We also welcome guest posts from faculty who have a teaching tip they would like to share with their colleagues. 


High-Structure Courses Support Inclusion and Success

In their book, Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom (2022), Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy note that instructors can easily assume that underperformance is due to a lack of motivation, but the real issue may be that underperforming students lack knowing what, how, or even when to apply various learning strategies needed to be successful.  

In college, students are typically assigned readings and asked to demonstrate their learning through various formative and summative assessments. Instructors often assume that college students understand how to prepare for different types of assessments. But, while students know they need to study, they do not always know how to study effectively.   

Not all students have the privilege of attending high schools that have a consistent instructor all year, provide AP course work and college preparation services, or have college-educated parents who can help them navigate through the transition and demands of college. So, what can WE do to ensure that all students succeed here at Chapman 

Through her research, Hogan found that learning environments that are highly structured can reduce the impact of institutionalized inequities, build a sense of belonging, and promote student success (Supiano, 2018). Putting more structure in place will not harm students who already possess and apply effective learning strategies. But research suggests that more structure is critical for the students who have not yet developed effective study strategies, metacognition, and time management.

As we work to remove identified inequities, providing students with more instructional scaffolding and required practice based on how students learn can help close existing achievement gaps. In a high-structure course, scaffolded practice combined with continual and timely feedback equates to all students having a clearer road map for meeting expectations.

For more ideas on how to add structure, see High Structure Active Learning, 2023. You might also consider these suggestions from Hogan & Sathy (2022): 

  • Make learning and practice activities required, not optional; providing frequent, low-stakes assessments provides students opportunities to practice before a higher-stakes assessment. 
  • Provide a set of guided questions to go along with assigned readings or videos that students must answer and submit before class. 
  • Provide a skeletal outline to accompany class lectures that students fill in during class.  
  • Provide clear, explicit instructions that indicate what students need to do before, during, and after class.  
  • Present directions for in-class activities both verbally and in writing – either on a slide or on a handout students can refer to at any time during the activity. 
  • Facilitate class discussions that provide an opportunity for everyone to participate in some way (not just those vocal students who are the first to raise their hands).
  • Consider providing a recording of the lecture (or create mini-lecture videos) to share with students who benefit from viewing the lecture more than once, and/or at their own pace.  
  • Provide objectives for each lesson to indicate what students should be able to know/do after the lesson. Consider starting the class with this list of objectives and checking them off as they are completed.  
  • When resources are provided to help students learn something integral to a course, they need to be required to ensure students take advantage of them (e.g., requiring completion of a study guide you’ve created prior to an exam). 


Join us for our upcoming Conference on Innovative Teaching and Student Success to learn more about inclusive teaching and other strategies for supporting students in and out of the classroom. 

Interested in exploring any of these ideas further or discussing how you might implement them in your own teaching practices? Is there a tip you’ve tried that you would like to share with colleagues? Contact CETL or schedule a consultation to continue the conversation.