Setting Positive Class Expectations through Shared Language, Civil Practices, and Clear Directions


  • Amy Carney Pennsylvania State University, the Behrend College
  • Kat Ringenbach University of Massachusetts Global



Student Evaluation, Teaching Practices, Course Policies and Expectations, Engagement with Students, Clear Communication


Instructors seek to create meaningful learning experiences for their students, and through student evaluations and self-reflection, teaching practices can be improved. While feedback from student evaluations at the end of a term can help to improve the experience, there are many proactive tactics instructors can use to create a positive and beneficial learning experience for students. The first step is to evaluate teaching practices and to create and revise courses as needed to reflect the constantly evolving challenges of teaching at a university. Given how content delivery is evolving, instructors need to reflect on how they can create a positive environment that provides structure and support for all students. This article discusses a few ways to improve teaching, including setting up clear expectations for communication and performance, providing clear directions and rubrics, engaging and communicating with students, building a safe community for learning, and providing substantive feedback. While the main goal is to increase student learning, another possible outcome of creating a safe and open space is more positive end of the term evaluations.

Author Biographies

Amy Carney, Pennsylvania State University, the Behrend College

Amy Carney is an associate professor of history at Pennsylvania State University, the Behrend College. She teaches classes on modern European history, including courses on both World Wars, Fascism and National Socialism, and the Holocaust. Her research, including her 2018 book Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS, focuses on family life in Nazi Germany.

Kat Ringenbach, University of Massachusetts Global

Kat Ringenbach is a professor of psychology at University of Massachusetts Global, where she has taught for twenty-nine years, including traditional face-to-face, blended, and asynchronous online formats. She has presented on a variety of topics, including job performance, critical thinking, best teaching practices, student success, assessment, interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, work-life balance, interracial mentoring, substantive feedback, and quality teaching. She is one of the authors for UMass Global’s innovative Competency Based Education Program, focusing on multidisciplinary approaches to understanding the human experience and human behavior, as well as critical and creative thinking.




How to Cite

Carney, A., & Ringenbach, K. (2023). Setting Positive Class Expectations through Shared Language, Civil Practices, and Clear Directions. Proceedings of the H-Net Teaching Conference, 1(1), 5–25.