Classroom Practices Library

Welcome to the Practices Library

Research in a variety of disciplines demonstrates that when learning environments are designed to promote a sense of belonging and support learning, students are more likely to take advantage of campus resources and persist through challenges, ultimately helping to close outcome gaps by group membership.

This collection of evidence-based, field-tested resources draws on this research base in social psychology, educational psychology, and brain science, along with feedback from students, instructors, and staff to provide practical recommendations for steps that instructors can take in their courses to: 

  • Increase equity in students' experiences of their learning environments
  • Promote engagement
  • Support academic success

The resources in this library address six different psychological aspects of student experience. To view these same resources organized by the experience they address, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions:  Answers to common questions including: Where do the resources included in the Practices Library come from? Where do I start?

Getting Started

Growth Mindset & Social Belonging Foundations

The following resources provide an overview of research and best practices pertaining to social belonging and growth mindset - two of the key social psychological constructs informing the library.

Overview: Effective Social Belonging Messages: A foundational overview on how to craft messages that promote social belonging, why they work, and how to use them

Overview: Effective Growth Mindset Culture Messages: A foundational overview on how instructors can convey a growth mindset about student abilities, why they should, and how to use growth-mindset messaging

Foundational Practices

Practices to Promote Equity in Students' Experiences & Outcomes

Evidence-based approaches that, when used together, can help instructors to design a course that promotes equity in students’ experiences and outcomes in its structure and content throughout the term.

Syllabus Review Guide: A step-by-step guide for using syllabus development or revision as a tool for creating a course that promotes equity, belonging, and growth for all students. This resource corresponds with the Syllabus Revision Module; most effective when implemented prior to the start of the term/during course planning, and reiterated in welcome messages and first day of class discussions

Policy Review: Creating Student-Centered Course Policies: A step-by-step guide for crafting course policies that promote equity and acknowledge and accommodate the lived experiences of diverse student populations; most effective when implemented prior to the start of the term/during course planning, and reiterated in early course messaging and during stressful times of the term

Establishing Expectations: A Growth Mindset Approach: Approaches for communicating about academic standards and course expectations in a way that promotes student engagement, learning, and academic success; most effective when implemented during the first week of classes; revisit principles throughout the term

Creating a Wise Feedback Framing Statement: Guidance on delivering critical feedback in a way that engenders trust, increases academic engagement, and helps close academic outcome gaps; most effective when implemented on all significant assignments or assessments 

Ensuring Classroom Identity Safety: Approaches for creating classroom learning environments where students from diverse identities feel welcome, valued, respected, and as though they are recognized as having the potential to succeed; most effective when implemented continuously throughout the term 

Expanding Your Practices

Practices to Foster Social Belonging & Connections

Approaches that build on the Foundational Practices section of the practices library to provide additional approaches that can be used to support connections in the classroom and further promote feelings of social belonging.

Creating a Belonging Story: Guidance on developing and adapting a brief exercise to help students understand that belonging concerns in college are normal, and not a signal that they do not belong or cannot succeed

Encouraging Connections in the Classroom: Approaches for encouraging connections between students and the instructional team, and among students


Practices to Promote Academic Engagement & Growth

Approaches that build on the Wise Feedback Framing Statement resource to provide instructors with additional recommendations for providing critical feedback and opportunities for reflection in a way that promotes student engagement and learning.

Creating An Attuned Assessment Wrapper: Resources for bookending (or “wrapping”) key assessments with practices that help students prepare for, and debrief their performance in a way that emphasizes potential for growth, connects to resources, and does not inspire identity threat

Supporting Self-Efficacy by Integrating Self-Relevance and a Sense of Purpose into Your Course: Approaches to help students see their coursework as relevant to their own experiences and their future goals


Practices for Creating & Sustaining an Inclusive Classroom Environment

Approaches that build on the Ensuring Classroom Identity Safety resource to provide additional recommendations for creating a classroom environment where all students feel valued, respected, and as though they can reach their full potential.

Addressing an Identity Threatening Incident: Guidance on a straightforward and practical approach for addressing identity-threatening incidents in a way that promotes students’ identity safety and social belonging, and builds connection and trust 

Supporting Financially Stressed Students: Recommendations for practices that can help support financially stressed students' learning, sense that they belong in college, and belief in their ability to succeed 

First Day Toolkit

While the resources in this library can be used by individual instructors, evidence from the Student Experience Project indicates that the change ideas may be most effective when used collectively by groups of instructors in a community of practice.  

The First Day Toolkit is a suite of resources designed to help administrators engage groups of instructors in revising their syllabi and other messages that students receive on the first day of class to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment. The First Day Toolkit was created by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), CTC, and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) as part of the Student Experience Project. We thank our SEP University Partners and Peer Learning Network colleagues who piloted this toolkit and provided feedback for its refinement.


The following is a list of references cited throughout the above-linked resources. 

Classroom Practices Library References

Read what Faculty and Administrators have to say about the Practices Library...


The Classroom Practices Library was developed by CTC, with feedback and collaboration from university partners, for the Student Experience Project.
(© 2022) Copying, reproducing, or monetizing this resource without express permission from the College Transition Collaborative is prohibited.

Email with any questions.

Have feedback on the library? Share it here!