Humanities: Teaching Faculty

Design a lesson plan incorporating universal design


Teaching or instructional faculty are focused on advancing the teaching mission of most colleges and universities by teaching courses and mentoring and working with students in both individual and group settings.

Instructional faculty are largely focused on teaching with some service responsibilities, in contrast to research faculty, who normally divide their time between research, teaching, and service. Instructional faculty members are often experts in their field and many, though not all, will have attained a terminal degree in the field they teach. Depending on the specific context of an instructor’s college and department, they may teach a wide range of class sizes and will generally teach between three and five courses each semester with the possibility of additional teaching responsibilities in resource or advising centers. In all contexts, however, instructors will work with diverse learners who bring different experiences and knowledge to the table, and it is the responsibility of the instructor to meet students “where they are.” One of the most effective frameworks for creating lessons that do this is Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

The Process

The process below includes information that is necessary to develop and then implement an effective lesson plan that incorporates universal design.

The Exercise

Develop a lesson plan for a course in your field. Read through the following scenario and then develop a lesson plan for one 50 minute class session.

For this exercise, you are a teaching faculty member who has been asked to teach a course for another instructor in your department. Try to identify a course that you think you might like to teach (check the course catalog if you’re unsure) and, if possible acquire a copy of a syllabus for this course (emailing the instructor or a department program associate can be a great way to get access to these).

Scenario: Sarah, one of your colleagues in your department at MidWestern University, has to go out of town for a conference next Friday and has asked you to come in and lead a class in one of the lower division undergraduate courses in your field. There are about 25 students in the class and Sarah says that they are a good group, but the course is at 8am and they are occasionally a little slow to engage, especially on at the end of the week. One of the expectations for the course that the class created at the start of the semester was that it be structured around the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines to promote student learning and accessibility. Sarah says the class is a bit ahead of schedule, so she’ll leave deciding on the class topic to you and she is mainly hoping that you can lead an energetic and engaging class session to help keep the students on track and maintain the momentum that she has spent the semester building.

Task 1: Identify Learning Objectives

Find a course description online (and the syllabi if you were able to track one down), and using these course materials, think about the types of skills or knowledge that you would want students to walk away with if you were teaching the course. What should they know or what should they be able to do? Start jotting down a list of possible takeaways from this class and try to generate a list of 15 or 20 possible learning objectives. Try to make them as specific as possible and be sure to include multiple means of demonstrating learning. Once you’ve created this list, go back through and identify one or two that you could address or begin to address in a single 50-minute session.

Task 2: Create an Agenda

Once you have your learning objective(s) in mind, brainstorm strategies for helping students to achieve them. Think about your own undergraduate experience and what your most effective learning experiences were and how you might replicate them. Create a list of possible activities that could include reading or homework to do before or after the class session, brief lectures, group activities, or lab activities. Remember to make your lessons as  engaging and effective as possible by optimizing relevance, value, and authenticity and by checking for comprehension. Estimate the amount of time each activity would take and then put together an effective class session from your list.

The Deliverable

Teaching faculty spend a lot of their time designing and implementing their lesson plans as they shape, more than anything else, each student’s classroom experience and learning.

For the lesson plan, you should identify the main learning objective or objectives for the day and map out the agenda for the class session (looking at these lesson plan templates might be helpful). Include information necessary for you as the instructor to guide the class through the session such as instructions for activities, questions to prompt discussion, or reminders about the amount of time for each portion of class so that you stay on track. You may also want to include points where you stop and check in on how the class is doing and responding. Provide as much detail as you think you would need to effectively lead the class session, but also try to be concise and flexible. Many of the best class sessions have room for adaptation in response to student needs or desire.


Skills Used to Perform These Tasks

  • Strategic thinking
  • Synthesizing and prioritizing information
  • Creativity
  • Organization

Skills Needed for This Career

  • Planning
  • Empathy
  • Problem solving
  • Time management
  • Communication & presentation skills
  • Writing skills

Additional Responsibilities

A teaching faculty member may also perform these activities:

  • Design and utilize assignments and evaluation materials like rubrics
  • Work with students one-on-one in office hours or in a tutoring session
  • Serve on department committees such as the curriculum or textbook committee
  • Conduct program assessment or evaluation

You are viewing a job simulation. To get started, set up SMART Goals to perform this simulation in a reasonable timeline. If you have completed the task, fill out the Self-Reflection Sheet.

Simulation author – Brady Krien, PhD candidate at the University of Iowa

Simulation vetted by professionals at the University of Iowa