Resources for teachers

We create and manage a range of resources on teaching and learning for teachers, teaching assistants, sections and students.

Resources we have produced include: 

  • the Teaching Portal: a one-stop site for both practical and pedagogical questions related to teaching at EPFL
  • Student group work supports: a series of short videos (in French) which were developed in response to a study of student difficulties and challenges in undertaking group work
  • An annotated list of recommended reading on teaching and learning in higher education.

Resources which are part of services we manage include:

  • Clickers: in addition to making equipment available and providing support for teachers who want to increase student participation and feedback in lectures, we also offer both technical and pedagogical information online on our dedicated website
  • Optical mark reading software: this allows teachers to streamline the process of correcting multiple choice type examinations
  • Maths resources for incoming students: including an online self-assessment and a maths text which is sent to all incoming EPFL students every year 

If you have ideas for a resource which is likely to be of benefit to teachers or learners across EPFL, please feel free to contact us.

The process of accreditation for EPFL programmes requires that all courses are written in terms of learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes also help clarify the goals of the course for students and can be used by teachers in providing feedback for learning to students and in planning course assessments.

What are learning outcomes?

Learning outcomes are short statements of what a successful student will be able to do when they complete the course.

Here are some examples:


At the end of the course the students must be able to:

Low-level cognitive outcomes

  • Define the concepts of thermodynamic efficiency
  • Explain the formation of p-n junctions, and the limiting of current flow across the junction
  • List and explain the hygiene and safety rules applicable to biomechanical testing of tissues
  • Explain the operation of sensors, actuators and of the respective control algorithms

Mid-level cognitive outcomes

  • Analyse, according to multiple criteria (technological, economic, environmental), design and production solutions
  • Model, analyse and optimize the internal logistics of a production and distribution system
  • Compare the performance of JFET and Bipolar Transistors

Higher cognitive outcomes

  • Design mechatronic systems (choice of sensors, actuators, embedded systems)
  • Evaluate the performance of a closed loop system, drawing on simulation or experimental data, and draw conclusions
  • Design and optimise energy conversion systems and industrial processes

Transversal skills

  • Co-ordinate a team to develop, agree and deliver upon a work plan
  • Write a scientific or technical report
  • Take responsibility for health and safety of self and others in a working context

Checklist for writing learning outcomes

  1. They begin with an action verb (such as compare, model, analyse, explain, describe, etc.) 
  2. Where there is more than one verb, the more complex action is listed first.
  3. They can be observed, and in most cases measurable. Therefore verbs such as “know”, “understand” or “be aware of” are typically not used. Instead more observable verbs like “describe”, or “explain” are normally used.   
  4. They are short and precise.
  5. They refer to the right level(s) of cognitive thinking. IS Academia will automatically suggest to you the probable level of cognitive complexity of the learning outcome based on the verb used.  However, since the complexity depends on the material being studied as well as the tasks performed, the teacher will be the best judge of how complex the learning outcome is.
  6. They focus on what students will be able to do rather than on teacher’s intentions.
  7. A transversal skill will figure as an aim in many courses of a same program. While most learning outcomes are specific to the course and its content, there are some cross-cutting or transversal skills that are developed across many courses. These type of learning outcomes may not be taught explicitly in a course, but the student will often develop these skills through the course activities (writing reports or working in teams, for example).These learning outcomes are important for accreditation purposes, since these type of skills are required for professional practice. IS Academia proposes transversal learning outcomes which teachers can select in relation to their course.

If it seems that an important verb or transversal learning outcome (or an appropriate synonym) is not available in the IS Academia list, please contact the Teaching Support Centre and it can be added. 

Course summary

The summary of the course states the key knowledge and skills students will acquire in a course. Such statement must be brief, maximum 300 characters, and resemble the overall objectives of the course. This will be included in the students’ diploma supplement.

Some examples of the summary are included below:

1. Course « composants semiconducteurs »

Les étudiants comprennent et appliquent la physique des composants semiconducteurs, tels que diodes Schottky ou pn, transistors bipolaires, JFET et composants MOS. Ils savent les utiliser dans des circuits électroniques de base, par exemple dans un inverseur CMOS ou un amplificateur de tension.

The students understand and apply the physics of semiconductor devices like Schottky and pn diodes, bipolar transistors, JFET and MOS devices. They use such devices in basic electronic circuits, for example in a CMOS inverter or a voltage amplifier.

2.Course « méthodes de détection optique »

Les étudiants analysent les caractéristiques fondamentales des détecteurs optiques. Les détecteurs thermiques, photoémissifs, les photodiodes et les capteurs infrarouges leur sont familiers. Les caméras CCD et CMOS sont analysées en détail. La détection de photons singuliers est expliquée.

Students analyse the fundamental characteristics of optical detectors. Thermal and photoemissive devices as well as photodiodes and infrared sensors are studied. CCD and CMOS cameras are analysed in detail. Single photon detection is explained.


University Teaching

Nilson, Linda B. (2010) Teaching at its best: a research-based resource for college instructors.
A comprehensive and user-friendly guide to university teaching and learning skills. It includes chapters on a range of different teaching approaches and issues, including lecturing, group work, using questions and managing student behaviour problems.

Svinicki, Marilla D. and Wilbert J. McKeachie (2013) McKeachie’s teaching tips, 14th edition
The standard text for university teaching and learning, contains chapters on basic skills for getting started in lecturing and testing as well as ideas on more specific situations like lab work and large classes.

Entwistle, Noel (2009) Teaching for understanding at university, deep approaches and distinctive ways of thinking
Not so much focused on specific teaching skills, but more an exploration of the key concepts underpinning effective teaching and learning. This book seeks to clarify what university teachers should know about educational psychology and what that means for how they should approach teaching.

Ramsden, Paul (2003) Learning to teach in higher education, 2nd edition.
A book that focuses on core principles of good teaching rather than on specific skills, the core of this book is the focus on what it means for students to learn and what this means for how we should organize teaching. The principles for good teaching outlined in chapter 6 are particularly useful.

Bligh, Donald A. (2000) What’s the use of lectures?
Focused on lecturing in specific rather than university teaching in broader terms, Bligh’s book is richly informed by research evidence and extremely detailed on a range of aspects of successful lecturing.

Teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Disciplines

Crawley, Edward et al. (2014) Rethinking engineering education, the CDIO approach, 2nd edition
The Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) model for engineering education curriculum was developed originally in Sweden but has now become influential throughout the world. This book outlines 12 standards that aim to educate professional engineers to meet the challenges of 21st century engineers.

Kalman, Calvin S. (2008) Successful science and engineering teaching
This book draws on the literature on the psychology of learning science and on the philosophy of science to explore what it means for students to learn to see the world scientifically. From this, it develops a model for helping students to develop not just scientific knowledge but a scientific perspective.

Baillie, Caroline and Moore, Ivan (eds.) (2004) Effective learning and teaching in engineering
This edited book addresses a number of themes in engineering education, including curriculum design, and the use of teaching methods like case studies, studio courses and workplace-based learning.

Wellington, Jerry and Ireson, Gren (2012) Science learning, science teaching, 3rd edition
Although designed with secondary school science classes in mind, the chapters on planning and managing learning, on lab work, investigations, and practicals are likely to be useful to those teaching science and engineering in university.

Assessment/ Examinations

Wakeford, Richard (2003) ‘Principles of student assessment’ in Fry, Heather et al. (eds.) A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education, enhancing academic practice, 2nd edition.
As well as describing the range of assessment types and the key principles of reliable and valid assessment, this chapter includes case studies on assessment problems in university settings.

Haladyna, Thomas M. (2004) Developing and validating multiple choice test items, 3rd edition.
This is quite a dry, rather technical, text on Multiple Choice Tests. The discussion of formats, the guidelines for developing multiple choice items, and the casebook of exemplary items are all very useful.

Stevens, Dannelle and Levi, Antonia (2005) Introduction to rubrics
Grading rubrics are a simple and powerful tool for communicating to students and colleagues what it is you want students to be able to do at the end of a course. They also can make the grading process more valid and reliable. This short book explains what rubrics are, how they can be developed and provides examples from different disciplines including laboratory classes.

How people learn

Ambrose, Susan A. et al. (2010) How learning works, 7 research-based principles for smart teaching
A very readable account of the research evidence on how people learn, organized in a way to make it accessible to those who are not psychologically trained.  This book is full of practical insights about what educational research means for higher education teaching.

Bransford, John et al. (2000) How people learn; brain, mind, experience and school
The result of a review of learning sciences literature undertaken on behalf of the US National Research Council, the focus of this text is on pre-university students. Nonetheless the chapters on how expert knowledge is organized and on effective teaching in mathematics and science are very useful for university educators.

Hattie, John (2009) Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement
This book is a landmark in the movement towards evidence-informed teaching. It reviews the quantitative research evidence on student learning in a way that allows different teaching approaches to be compared. In doing so it teases out some key principles that seem to underlie different effective teaching methods. Although quite dry and somewhat repetitive, it is an incredibly powerful resource for thinking about teaching.

Bain, Ken (2012) What the best college students do
A very readable account of effective student learning in higher education and how teachers can facilitate such effective learning.

Innovative Teaching Methods

Cohen, Elizabeth (1994) Designing groupwork, 2nd edition
A classic work on what the research evidence tells us about group work and the implications of that for designing student group work tasks.

Laurillard, Diana (2002) Rethinking university teaching, a framework for the effective use of learning technologies 2nd edition
Although now quite old, this book combines a focus on what we know about learning with some practical ideas about how that knowledge can be used to inform the use of information technology in supporting learning. Technology has developed over the years but the ideas in this book remain relevant.

Mazur, Eric (1997) Peer instruction, a user’s manual
Peer instruction is one of the most widely publicized and used methods of promoting student active learning in lecture-type settings. This user manual provides both a step-by-step approach to planning for peer instruction as well as a range of resource primarily of use for physics lecturers.

Waldrop, J.B and Melody A. Bowdon (2016) Best Practices for Flipping the College Classroom
Provides a brief overview of the objectives and context of flipped classes, followed by several case studies which present the specific organisation, assignments and assessment methods used across a range of disciplines, levels and teaching contexts.

Evénements Bootstrap

Dans le cadre de leur accueil au sein de l’école, tou-te-s les enseignant-e-s et professeur-e-s intégrant l’EPFL sont invité-e-s à un événement appelé « Bootstrap ». L’objectif de cet évènement est de fournir aux enseignant-e-s les informations clés dont elles et ils ont besoin pour commencer à travailler à l’EPFL et de leur permettre de faire connaissance et de rencontrer des membres de la direction dans un environnement informel. La participation se fait sur invitation seulement. Il est vivement conseillé à tou-te-s les nouveaux/elles
enseignant-e-s d’assister au Bootstrap les concernant

Pour les professeur-e-s (au sens du titre académique), le Bootstrap est un séminaire d’une journée organisée à l’extérieur du campus chaque année au printemps. Les sujets abordés sont les suivants :

  • mission et stratégie de l’école et rôle du corps professoral ;
  • attentes et support offert concernant l’excellence de l’enseignement ;
  • particularités de l’enseignement et du système d’évaluation de l’EPFL ;
  • mission et support offert concernant la recherche.

Pour les autres enseignant-e-s, le Bootstrap est un séminaire donné en soirée dans lequel sont abordés les sujets suivants :

  • mission et stratégie de l’école et rôle du corps enseignant ;
  • attentes et support offert concernant l’excellence de l’enseignement ;
  • particularités de l’enseignement et du système d’évaluation de l’EPFL.

Les événements Bootstrap sont organisés par le Centre d’Appui à l’Enseignement en collaboration avec la Vice-Présidence pour les Affaires Académiques, les Vice-Provosts pour la Formation et pour la Recherche, le Research Office, les Affaires Professorales et le Centre pour l’Education à l’Ere Digitale.

Services aux nouveaux enseignants

Tous les nouveaux/elles enseignant-e-s sont invité-e-s à profiter d’un accompagnement personnalisé avec un conseiller pédagogique qui peut les aider à se préparer à enseigner à l’EPFL. Les conseillers pédagogiques peuvent aider à adapter un cours existant au contexte spécifique de l’EPFL, à identifier des ressources pertinentes pour la (re)conception d’un cours ou encore répondre à des questions techniques ou logistiques.

N’hésitez pas à nous contacter par email à [email protected] ou à prendre contact avec le conseiller pédagogique de la section concernée.

To register for feedback

If you are a doctoral assistant for a course and would like student feedback on your teaching…

register to get feedback here

This is an EPFL google drive form: and so it will require your EPFL login.

If you get an error message, sign out of your (personal) Google Account and then sign in with your EPFL Google Account

The closing date for registrations for Fall 2018 is Tuesday 4th December 2018.

You can register for student feedback if:

  • you are a doctoral assistant on the course
  • other doctoral assistants on the course agree (the questionnaire will potentially generate feedback on all doctoral assistants in the course, so you need their agreement)
  • the course teacher agrees (the teacher is the person with overall responsibility for the course and so it cannot be evaluated without her/his agreement)

Two types of standard questionnaires are available:

The procedure

The procedure is as follows:

  • You register for feedback on the attached form.  The information you will need in order to register is:
    • the name and course code of the course,
    • the language preference for the questionnaire,
    • whether you want to use the questionnaire for exercises or labs, and
    • the name and SCIPER ID of all doctoral assistants teaching on the course, including yourself (SCIPER ID can be found on each person’s [email protected] webpage, under the “All postal addresses and positions” link)
    • the number of students taking the course (in order to report response rates)
  • CAPE will generate a student feedback questionnaire based on the data you provided and send you the pdf by mid-December
  • You will print sufficient copies of the questionnaire and distribute them to the students (e.g. in the final exercise session or in the exam)
  • You will return the completed questionnaires by internal post to Ludovic Bonivento, CAPE, Station 16
  • Completed questionnaires will be scanned after the end of semester exam period
  • A report with student feedback will be emailed to all of the doctoral assistants named on the registration form

The project

This is a pilot project being run in the 2018 Fall Semester by CAPE at the request of representatives of the EPFL doctoral assistants.