Reading Guide Launch Sheet

With the Reading Guide, students see you–the content expert–in conversation with another content expert.  Some tips to remember:

  • Be conversational. Write as you if you were speaking to your students in class.
  • Avoid commenting on every paragraph. Be strategic in the content and text you want to annotate. What do you want them to remember, most of all? 
  • You don’t have to provide comments in-text. While it can help students to see comments in relation to one another, sometimes the software or content you assign doesn’t allow editing. Assigning a worksheet with questions and considerations can work just as well.


Additional Resources:



Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Tyler Kinnear

Dr. Tyler Kinnear

Instructor of Arts in the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts at Western Carolina University

This fall Western Carolina University pioneered a new P5 course designed as a large section lecture/experiential learning course that engages students in not only the fundamentals of the arts but actual art experiences. Over the course of the semester, students attend and participate in music, theater, and visual arts events across the college. Part of its learning focus is on self-awareness, specifically how an individual’s experiences intersect with the arts and how the arts help to inform those experiences. At the heart of this initiative is the work of Dr. Tyler Kinnear in his third year of teaching at WCU. 

Born and raised in Cullowhee, Kinnear has always been interested in music and art, but he became fascinated with soundscape when attending British Columbia University. Now that his journey of education has brought him back to his hometown, he has found the opportunity to take his passion outside of the classroom inviting the community to participate in exhibits, soundwalks, and more with the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts CenterThe resource that Kinnear is most excited about it is the outstanding campus. He is a true believer in applied learning and believes that you can find anything on campus to relate to, “We have this laboratory right on campus!” 

Kinnear’s goal for all his students is to grow, obtain self-awareness, and gain confidence. When asked what the most rewarding part in his teaching career has been, he replied when a smile on his face and said, “every day is a reward!” But more specifically, he finds himself most enjoying teaching students how to play gamelan, which is an Indonesian traditional instrument. In addition to helping his students think outside of their own culture, the most rewarding part this teaching is seeing the light come to the face of a student who has never touched an instrument before, when they suddenly realize, “I can do this!”  

Dr. Kinnear has discovered that his true passion is to encourage students to “wake up to their potential” and tap into their creative side.  “We all have it whether we recognize it or not,” he says. One of the ways students discover this is through engagement, not only with each other but with the things around them. After participating in a campus event, students will work together to create online video responses using a software called Panopto, which is one of many tools the Coulter Faculty Commons (CFC) offers the faculty at Western Carolina University. 

To help facilitate teaching and learning with such a large class, Kinnear depends on support from technology. He said he came to the CFC asking for help with a few technological challenges and left with not only clarity, but more amazing ideas: “JD Hawes at the CFC told me about Poll Everywhere and now it is used regularly to make the classroom more interactive. In addition to this, the Quick Course Diagnostic helped to show what aspects of the experimental classroom design were working and where students wanted to see improvement.  

Kinnear believes that the CFC is a very valuable resource that not only helps you with practical situations, such as but also helps you have a personal connection with others on campus by offering different workshops and guest speakers. The CFC is not only a problem-solving resource on campus, but it is a partnership for excellence in teaching and learning. And like all great teachers, Tyler Kinnear says, “we are always learning.” 

Ready to take group assignments to the next level?

“Group work!” 

The mere phrase elicits dread in the heart of almost high performing college student and many time spells frustration for the faculty who know its potential benefits but wonder why it is so hard to get this important teaching tool to work right.

Dr. Maurice Phipps

Dr. Maurice Phipps

Professor Emeritus, Parks and Recreation Management

Dr. Maurice Phipps, faculty emeritus for Western Carolina University has developed a guidebook for teachers and students to rediscover the value and the joy of cooperative learning.

“Cooperative Learning is a highly effective method of instruction and students trained in effective group skills are valued in the workplace but groups can be dreaded without some assurance that group skills and group processing are properly taught and applied.” – Maurice Phipps

He has simplified the challenge of group work by using the five elements of Cooperative Learning, which he says must all be present in order for students to form a high performing cooperative learning community. He breaks down group work into concepts, skills and roles, and tactics and strategies.

What does cooperative learning look like?

  • Positive interdependence (ways to ensure students work together)
  • Individual accountability (making sure all students are learning)
  • Face-to-face interaction (many ways to interact)
  • Interpersonal and small-group skills (to enable effective group functioning)

The Group Book

Dr. Phipps cowrote and published The Group Book: Effective Skills for Cooperative Groups as a reference manual for teachers and students to use in bringing together the necessary pieces.

Faculty can use it as a workbook for students (e.g. study p.5-10 and come into class prepared to practice the skill).

Or they can review it themselves and deploy the strategies as needed.

Some teachers give it to students to help them take ownership of their group learning and solve the kinds of 21st century problems they will encounter throughout the rest of their life.



  • Faculty who want to use this, do it because they want their students to learn soft skills (that combine with technical skills) for student success.
  • Compared with other dynamic group learning methods (e.g. team-based learning), cooperative learning is flexible and adaptable to any learning environment.
  • The only way to enable high-functioning student groups in your classroom is to equip students with group processing and group skills while setting a context for them to succeed.

Want to learn more?

  • Read more about Cooperative Learning using the resources below.
  • Keep an eye out for upcoming events hosted by the CFC for Excellence in Teaching and Learning that may include a workshop hosted by Dr. Phipps on the art of facilitating group work.
  • Dr Phipps is also hosting a regular faculty discussion for WCU faculty on the benefits, challenges, and strategies of group work. Please send him a message for more details.
  • Schedule an appointment with one of our educational developers to see how you can implement this unique learning design.
  • Don’t forget to pick up a copy of “The Group Book: Effective Skills for Cooperative Groups” online or at the Coulter Faculty Commons for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.