August 31, 2017
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McGill University - Focus on Teaching



On behalf of Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) and our partners, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the 2017-18 academic year! This is an exciting time to meet new students, reconnect with colleagues, and explore new teaching strategies. I encourage you to read our Focus on Teaching infobulletin, issued bi-monthly, which highlights upcoming events, teaching resources, and other information to support your teaching and supervision activities at McGill. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, share ideas, and send us your feedback by email at or phone, 514-398-6648.

Laura Winer
Director, Teaching and Learning Services


First Day Course Outline/myCourses Scavenger Hunt

Want to get students to pay attention to your course outline? Read one instructor’s suggestion for a 10-15 minute in-class activity and share your own ideas. 

Religious Holy Days

What kinds of accommodations should you make to ensure that the University environment allows students to fulfill both their university and their religious commitments? This document describes the procedures recommended at McGill. 

What the Research Says

What do you have planned for your first day of class? Gaffney and Whitaker (2015) offer suggestions for setting expectations, developing a supportive learning environment and building trust within a physics classroom. (Suggestions are transferable to other disciplines.)



Fall 2017 Checklists and Resources

Below is a list of checklists and useful resources to help you prepare for teaching this fall:


Writing Effective Reference Letters for Student Fellowships

September 8, 10:00am-12:00pm

Professors are often by students applying for awards and employment to write letters of reference. While time-consuming and sometimes difficult, a strong reference letter can change the outcome of an application. This workshop will help you write reference effective letters for all situations, and even handle unreasonable reference requests.

Understanding Discrimination: Frameworks and First Steps

September 18 or 27, 1:30-4:00pm
Designed specifically for the McGill context, this workshop will introduce participants to a number of concepts related to equity and discrimination.




myCourses Tip: Use Rubrics in myCourses to Support Learning

By creating a rubric that students can view while completing their assignments, you provide students with a tool to improve the quality of their work. A rubric can help students self-assess their work against the criteria you provide. In myCourses, you can link a rubric to assignments, individual discussion topics, individual grade items, and quizzes to provide feedback to students. Rubrics can make grading more efficient and standardized among your graders.




Polling @ McGill (TurningPoint) Updates for Fall 2017

If you have used Polling @ McGill previously or have requested its use for the Fall 2017 semester, please note that some changes have been made to the software, including:

  • An upgrade to TurningPoint 8;
  • A change in the license process;
  • Anonymous polling.

Connect your Google Scholar to McGill Library Full Text 

Did you know you can configure your browser’s Google Scholar results to use the McGill Library WorldCat Full Text link resolver to obtain articles? See the McGill Library Links in Google Scholar page for simple instructions on set-up.  


Posting Course Readings on myCourses

The Library can help you make course readings available to your students at no cost with myCourses. It’s easy to link to the Library’s millions of articles and ebooks or to scan and upload books and articles directly to myCourses. Read more or contact for assistance.

Interpretation of Course Evaluation Results

Resources and help are available for interpreting your course evaluation results, including documents to help you make sense of your numerical results and written comments. 


Support Student Writing: Courses, Workshops, Tutorials

Concerned about the quality of your students’ written work? Spending too much time wading through unclear ideas or poor grammar? Help your students improve their academic writing skills by referring them to the McGill Writing Centre’s courses, workshops, and tutorial service. These services are available to both graduate and undergraduate students.


Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) | IT Customer Services (ICS) | McGill Library | Social, Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE) | Student Services 

If you have comments about this e-bulletin, or require additional information about the above, please contact us at or 514-398-6648.

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