Interested in using research based methods to transform your teaching? Got a TA assignment, and looking for some ideas to help you out? Here are some tips and ideas, to facilitate improved teaching in whatever environment you teach.


John Taylor's teaching tips: A "top 10 list": short, sweet, and important!

Steve Pollock's teaching tips: 3 pages, breezy and readable, aimed at common TA duties here at CU.

Physics Education workshop: 8 pages, a little stiffer. This is not just "teaching tips" - it's a first guide to some deeper ideas about teaching as a scholarly activity (and the research behind it).

The Graduate Teacher Program (GTP): An option for further graduate teacher training.  (Workshops, lead TA positions, and more) 
They also have a teaching certificate program, something that might be quite helpful for your vita if you're thinking about a faculty position some day. Check them out.

Associated with CU, but a national scale program, visit CIRTL (Center for integration of research in teaching and learning) This is a graduate student organization, focused on science/math/engineering in particular, with lots of good tips, webinars, and networking opportunities.

References and further reading: Just a few links to get you going if you'd like to learn more about physics education research, and how it applies to classroom teaching.



  1.  A site from the AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers) with teaching materials and lots of research-based assessment tools (like the Force concept inventory, but many more!) Highly recommended.
  2. The Colorado SEI physics page This contains many resources (guides, materials, videos) from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, specifically targeting upper-division physics courses.
    1. The most centralized place on that SEI site to get some nice short guides to teaching is here:  
    2. Another handy guide is   (a short and very practical pamphlet on how to use clickers effectively)
    3. For books (see below),  the SEI has recommended books  you might draw from too:
  3.   This is from CSL, the Colorado Center for STEM Learning site, many good resources here!!
  4.  Phet simulations with pedagogical wrapper ideas, from CU.
  5.,  if you or your department are thinking about using Learning assistants.
  6. See also the Educational Reform Initiatives tab on the left of this page for other local links... 

BOOKS:  (Starting "Physics Centric", then getting more general)  

  1. "Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite” by Joe (Edward) Redish, a leading PER physicist. This is my favorite introduction to PER theory (and practice).  The first few chapters are very broad, then it gets pretty narrow/specific (you might stop reading it around Ch 8 or so).  Joe has put up a nearly-final pdf version online at   
  2. Five Easy Lessons” by Randall Knight. (Amazon link here, Quite cheap)  This is very explicilty focused on first year physics content, it is very concrete. If you are teaching intro physics, this is a step-by-step how-to guide for lecturing, with concept tests, homework and exam ideas, etc.
  3. How Learning Works by Ambrose. (Amazon link here, not too pricey)  This is more an overview of major principles of learning and cognition and what they mean for instruction.  (Not focused on Physics.)
  4. National Academies report, “Reaching Students.” (NAS website here, with a free pdf download tab) Practical and theoretical- aimed at new faculty,  walking you through the steps of course design using what is known from education research.
  5. How People Learn” (National Academies Press) (free, pdf link at top of that page)  More theoretical, less “practical tips”... this is sort of a precursor to #4 above, if you want to learn more about theories of learning.
  6.  “Teaching Tips” by McKeachie. (Amazon link here. This one is more "textbook cost") Practical and quite general. (I read it before I got involved with any PER, and just found it to be what it says - helpful tips, down to practicalities like grade-handling) . Over the years, his book has evolved to include more research-based ideas, so find a fairly recent edition.