Trying Something New

By Hailey Otis

In the article “Trying Something New? Seven Things that Boost Success Rates,” Dr. Maryellen Weimer provides tips for optimizing your success when trying something new in one or more of your courses with an eye toward student learning (summarized below):

1. Plan for it carefully – Don’t just up and do it because you think it sounds like a cool idea. Consider questions such as which learning goals it is best equipped to accomplish and what point in the course in should be implemented.

2. Modify, adapt, and alter – Don’t plan to do it exactly the same way as the person you learned it from.  Be creative and develop a new approach that’s appropriate to your teaching style and your class/students.

3. Talk about it – Consult a trusted colleague as you plan and make alterations but, even more importantly, involve students in discussions about the change so as to avoid negative feedback and to demonstrate that you recognize that instructional change directly affects them.

4. Implement confidently – Confidently commit to the change and adopt an “I know how we make this work” attitude for when things don’t go completely smoothly. Your confident commitment decreases student anxiety and helps them get more involved, and that, in turn, grows your confidence.

5. Forage for feedback – Aggressively seek feedback, and then devour it. You need to know the impact of this new policy, practice, activity, or assignment on student efforts to learn. Use that student input to confirm, deny, elaborate, or adjust your sense of how things went.

6. Try to fix it before you toss it – Sometimes a few minor changes can make a big difference. Students are usually quite articulate about what didn’t work. They should be challenged to help you figure out what could make it more effective.

7. Finally, loop back to the beginning – Start planning what you’ll do differently the next time you implement this approach.


Weimer, M. (2016, August 10) Trying Something New? Seven Things That Boost Success Rates. In Faculty Focus. Retrieved November 25, 2016 from articles/teaching-professor-blog/trying-something-new-seven-things-boost-success-rates/,%20accessed%20November%2027,%202016.