Learning Environments


What is meant by Learning Environments?

The following video Framework for Effective Teaching Dimension 4: Learning Environments provides a brief description of this dimension of the Framework for Effective Teaching.


How can I reflect on my teaching with respect to this dimension?

Below are some questions to consider with respect to your Learning Environments:

Physical and Virtual Infrastructure
  • Does the physical or virtual environment invite, promote or limit learning?
  • How well is the physical or virtual environment of the classroom utilized?
  • How innovative and interactive are the technologies used to support learning? 
  • How is technology used to promote student engagement and facilitate learning in courses? 
Additional Supports
  • What learning supports are available to assist with students’ most common challenges with course-specific content?
  • What accommodations have you planned and implemented to promote success for all students?
  • How responsive, well trained, informed, and empowered are teaching assistants?
  • How conducive to learning is the amount of contact time scheduled including course meetings, instructor office hours, Lab or TA availability?
  • How conducive to learning is the availability, intended workload, and structure of online course modules?

Below are some strategies that you might use to collect evidence to reflect on your teaching with respect to this dimension:

Evidence from Self

Some evidence you might collect on your own which might help you reflect upon your own learning environments includes documentation of:

  • Personal responses to those questions asked above.
  • Journal of observations, insights, and reflections about how well your learning environment promoted student achievement of course outcomes.
  • Reflections about the changes made or intended changes to improve the learning environments.
  • A list of literature and professional development with which you have engaged about learning environment design and best practices and short reflections about how each of these elements changed your teaching.  
Evidence from Peers

Some evidence you might collect from your peers which might help you reflect upon your own learning environments include: 

  • Colleagues’ informed opinions and discussions about the extent to which your learning environment has the qualities that you believe it has.
  • Documented peer-review, including critical conversations, focused on the learning environment. e.g. consider having a colleague complete the Course Design Rubric about your virtual learning environment (Sections A & D).
Evidence from Students

Some evidence you might collect from your students which might help you reflect upon your own learning environments includes: 

  • Analysis of student’s patterns of interaction with the course on eClass.
  • Collect students’ perspectives about what they liked the most about your/their learning environment and record insights obtained from data.
  • Student Course evaluations (summary of numerical results, selected comments or emerging themes), Mid-course feedback (summary, form), Mid-semester feedback solicited.
  • Recent solicited or unsolicited letters and emails from students and teaching assistants commenting on the learning environment.


How can CTL help

CTL’s mandate is to support teaching and the professional development of instructors and to support the improvement of teaching at the University of Alberta. To this end, CTL provides formative feedback on teaching observations, consultations about the types of relevant evidence of effective teaching, and information about wise reflective practices.

Any feedback from the CTL is confidential and will only be shared or discussed with the instructor.

CTL supports teaching reflection for formative but not evaluative purposes. Should you require feedback for evaluative purposes you will need to contact your department head or an administrator.


What do I do with this evidence?

Of course, you can use this evidence and reflections to make changes to your course, and we suggest that you do. We also encourage you to share these changes with your students and peers and explain why these changes were made.

Should you wish to document this evidence (and your reflections) we encourage you to consider developing a teaching dossier and other forms of engagement further explained in our What to Do After Reflecting on Your Teaching page.