Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

Teaching Tips & Links for SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING

Issue 63 - Simple Ways to Connect with Students

July 30, 2019

At all levels of education, knowing your students is a key to developing effective learning that is relevant to the students. We have explored this theme in previous Teaching Tuesdays@CSU bulletins (Issue 8, Issue 55) and this week we are exploring strategies for learning about students at the start of a subject.

Part 5 of our five-part series focusing on Peer Review of Subject Design - Learning Support looks at Dimension 5: Knowing the Students. The five dimensions of Learning Support that we review in this series are: Subject Site, Student Needs, Student and Teacher Interactions, Flexible and Adaptive Learning, and Knowing the Students.

This week's topics:

  1. How Can I Use Icebreakers to Connect with Students?

  2. Learning Support: Knowing the Students, indicative strategies

PD Opportunities this week

Magna Publications. Explore the excellent sources on offer through our subscription to Academic Leader, Magna Commons, Mentor Commons and The Teaching Professor. How to subscribe: There is a single CSU subscription code to access all four of these resources. Staff with a CSU login can obtain the code and subscription instructions from this What's New link. An example of the many resources related to our theme of Learning Support:

How Can I Develop Online Instructor Presence?

See below for this week's Professional Learning opportunities at Charles Sturt University.


1. Use Icebreakers to Connect with Students

How Can I Use Icebreakers to Connect with Students?

By Alice Cassidy

Source: https://www.magnalearning.com/learn/video/how-can-i-use-icebreakers-to-connect-with-students

Reading time: <2 minutes (19 minutes for original video)

In this very practical presentation, Alice Cassidy presents ways for you to learn about your students, with examples for you to try and additional resources for you to explore. The talk is supported by extensive supplementary material that provides specific examples for each of the strategies discussed in the talk and it is well worth downloading.

The presentation includes strategies to implement techniques that are commonly used:

Ask questions before the start of session (via email) and/or in the first class.

  • Ask open-ended questions. For example, how would you respond to [a quote]? TRY this exercise yourself!
  • Ask for input on the fine-tuning of assignments and/or activities.
  • Ask for creative representations of their perceptions of the upcoming subject - draw, photograph, link.

Conduct introductory surveys or pre-tests

  • List [relevant facts related to the upcoming subject].
  • What is your definition of [relevant concepts related to the upcoming subject]?
  • What 1-2 things would you like to explore in this subject?

Use Icebreakers

  • Descriptive - "I am" statements, 3 things I like, 2 truths and a wish.
  • "Unique in common" - in face-to-face settings.
  • Fun - connected to the subject, or not. For example, "human bingo", personal philosophy statement, metaphors for the subject.

Personal connections and goals

  • Learn here what experiences students bring to the subject and what they want to know
  • Start to develop Individualised Learning Plans with students.

Background Information Probe

  • A form of pre-test that can be tailored to any upcoming class, module or assignment.

The PROFESSIONAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES section below has details about how to get FREE access to our Magna Publications quality Learning & Teaching resources subscription.


2. Learning Support: Knowing the Students, indicative strategies

Source: www.csu.edu.au/division/learning-and-teaching/home/teaching-staff/peer-review

Learning support refers to how the learning environment has been designed to support the learner, with a specific focus on the online environment.

The standards on which the dimensions for Peer Review of Subject Design Practice are based are:

  1. Administrative, technical and learning support details and information are provided.
  2. Student and teacher interactions are designed to support and progress learning.
  3. The design of the online learning environment supports a positive user experience.
  4. The online environment is appropriately designed to support and facilitate learning.

Learning Support, Dimension 5: Knowing the Students

Indicative strategies for demonstrating this dimension may include:

  • Design strategies to learn about student backgrounds and prior knowledge and understanding.
  • Addressing, as appropriate, different learning needs and styles within the group.
  • Focussing on building confidence, enthusiasm and intrinsic motivation.
  • Fostering students' responsibility for their own learning, encouraging them towards being self-directed learners.
  • Designing appropriate strategies for different needs, balancing discursive interactive strategies with those that are more didactic.
  • Recognising, at times, the need for teacher-directed strategies and designing for effective implementation.
  • Designing balance between challenging and supporting students.
  • Designing activities/tasks that allow students of differing abilities to participate/engage and demonstrate/enhance their learning.
  • Providing examples or opportunities for discussion that cater for cultural diversity.


Implementing the CSU Value IMPACTFUL in your teaching.

As a community of impactful professionals we are each thinking about how to best direct our efforts to secure results for our students and our communities.


Follow Teaching Tuesdays on Twitter.
Our Twitter feed includes links to further hints, tips and resources in the broader field of teaching in higher education.


Charles Sturt Ed 2019

This year's Charles Sturt Ed conference, Working together for student success, will be held on 20-22 November on the Wagga Campus. This will be an opportunity to discuss learning and teaching in the context of our Student Strategy which is part of the University Strategy 2017-2022. The main themes for the Charles Sturt Ed 2019 conference are:

  • Student-centred courses, teaching, services and culture
  • Quality learning and teaching
  • Innovative learning environments



1....Teaching support resources at CSU
2....CSU Professional Learning
3....Bonus CSU resource - Lynda.com

4....Magna Publications Subscriptions
5....Links to previous bulletins


1. Teaching support resources at CSU

You have access to a range of quality CSU resources to help you incorporate educational resources and techniques into your teaching. Check out the following:


3. Bonus CSU resource - LinkedIn Learning

All Charles Sturt University students and staff members have access to LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com).

This online subscription library provides high-quality instructional videos to teach the latest business, creative and software skills, as well as an extensive range of teaching tips.

NOTE: Lynda.com is now LinkedIn Learning and all Charles Sturt University Lynda.com accounts were transferred to LinkedIn Learning accounts on July 8.

A video of the demo session for your transfer to LinkedIn Learningis available at:


Get to know LinkedIn Learning with a tour and getting started options available at



4. Magna Publications Subscriptions

All staff with a CSU email address have free access to our annual

CSU subscription to the four different high quality resources for enhancing practice.

Video seminars: Mentor Commons (20 minutes) and Magna Commons (40-90 minutes) also include the presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources that are available for download if you don't have time to listen to the seminar.

Text-based resources: The Teaching Professor (for teaching staff) and Academic Leader (for those in academic and administration leadership roles).

How to subscribe

There is a single CSU subscription code to access all four of these resources.

Staff with a CSU login can obtain the code and subscription instructions from this What's New link.

Alternatively, contact

Ellen McIntyre elmcintyre@csu.edu.au or

Matthew Larnach mlarnach@csu.edu.au


5. Links to previous bulletins

Folder with all previous issues.

Other CSU Learning & Teaching Newsletters

Division of Learning and Teaching: DLT News

FoBJBS Newsletter: BJBS-News

FoA&E Newsletter: NeXus

Click below to download a list of previous Teaching Tuesdays@CSU topics

Upcoming Teaching Tuesdays issues...

Suggest topics that you would like for Teaching Tuesdays; or
Share your own teaching tips article.

Contact Ellen McIntyre elmcintyre@csu.edu.au to offer your suggestions.

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Teaching Tuesdays@CSU Contacts

Learning Academy, Division of Learning & Teaching, Charles Sturt University

Teaching Tuesdays@CSU bulletins are edited by Ellen McIntyre
Lecturer, Academic Development in the Learning Academy at Charles Sturt University

Kogi Naidoo

Dr Kogi Naidoo, FHERDSA and PFHEA, is Associate Professor and Director of the Learning Academy, Division of Learning and Teaching at Charles Sturt University, playing a strategic role contributing to and enhancing teaching, the curriculum and assessment practice, meeting both staff and student needs.