April 16, 2013
Closing the term: Solicit advice from current students for future students
Recruit your successful students to serve as mentors to students in your future classes. Near the end of the term, ask your current students in your classes to write down advice they would give to students who will take the course the next term. What should these students do to be successful in your class?
On the first class day, distribute the letters. Give a different letter from a previous student to each new student. After reading their letter, ask the students to exchange letters with a nearby student. Repeat this process several times so that each student has the opportunity to read a few letters. Then have a class discussion in which students identify common themes in the letters of advice.
The student mentors will write things like, “Be sure to do the homework Dr. Jones assigns for the chapter about ____ because it really helps you understand the concepts,” or, “Get yourself into a study group to go over the material outside of class—that really helped me and all my group members make it through this class,” etc.
Current students generally write advice for new students that is positive, even if the recommendations are things like, “This is a really hard subject; you will have to work in this class. But if you follow the syllabus and ask Dr. Jones for help, you will get through.”
The fact that the advice comes from students who survived your course is a key attribute to the persuasiveness of the advice. Your new students would likely value such advice if they had a chance encounter with your former students, knew those students passed the course, and had the opportunity to get pointers on how to ace the course. This strategy ensures that current students will “encounter” several previous students.
This tip is based on a teaching strategy submitted to the Teaching Issues Writing Consortium by Jeff King, Ed.D., Executive Director, Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching & Learning, University of Central Oklahoma.
WKU Writer’s Consortium
April 17, 2012
Reflecting on learning during final class meeting
People are meaning-making beings. We make meaning based on our experiences and on the information and ideas we encounter.
L. Dee Fink (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences. (p. 106)
How we end a course can influence the long-term impact our teaching will have on our students. Take some time during the final class meeting to provide closure for you and your students.
During the last class meeting, facilitate a discussion about “lessons learned” during the term.
Organize students in small groups and ask them to reflect on the content covered in the course and identify the “big ideas” they will take away from the term. After 5-10 minutes of small group discussion, ask each group to share 1 or 2 significant ideas the group generated. Collect the responses from the groups and post the list to your course webpage, blog, or eLearning site. As the instructor, you’ll be able to see which ideas resonated most strongly with the students during the semester.
Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. This book is in the CULTA library and available for check out.
This tip is based on a teaching strategy suggested by Linda Serro, Ph.D., Director, Teaching, Learning & Assessment Initiative, Florida Gulf Coast University. (http://www.fgcu.edu/tlai)
April 5, 2011
Engaging students at the end: Wrap-up activities for the last week of class
In the final weeks of a term, students and faculty can become so focused on “getting finished” that they neglect to reflect on the learning that has taken place during the term.
If you have succeeded in pacing the discussion of course content and managed to preserve one day in the final week of classes for a reflective activity, you might consider one of the following activities to help students identify and articulate their learning during the term. If you have spent more time than planned on some topics and find you need every remaining minute to address content you intended to include in course discussions, consider assigning one of these activities as an out-of-class reflection that can be uploaded to a drop box in D2L, turned in on the last day of class, or offered as a bonus essay with the final exam.
Reflections on student learning
Ask students to write down three things they think they will remember most about the class. Give students an open agenda for these reflections, including memorable comments from other students, examples or demonstrations, or unexpected interruptions or unplanned events during class. In addition, ask students to write down two things they know now that they did not know before they took your class (that is, two things specifically related to something they learned in your class).
Students can complete this activity during class time or bring this to class as an assignment on the final day. For the class activity, ask students to share their memories and descriptions of new learning as a group activity. Begin this discussion by describing a couple of highlights or events from the class that will be memorable to you and then invite students to share their class memories and reflect on their learning.
Advice to future students
Ask students to write a brief letter to future students who will enroll in this course and include tips on strategies future students should adopt if they want to do well in the course (read the material before class, see the instructor during office hours as soon as you can if you don’t understand something from class). Ask the students to describe one thing future students will learn in this class that will benefit them in their major or that they will be able to apply to real-life problems.
As with the class memories activity, these comments can be shared among students as a group activity. The most useful suggestions for future students can be compiled in a handout for future classes or included in the syllabus.
This tip is based on a compilation of suggestions to a question posed on PSYCHTEACHER (Society for the Teaching of Psychology Discussion List) by Jordan Troisi, University at Buffalo—SUNY.
April 29, 2008
Create a Strong Ending for Your Class
Ask students to write a letter to the future students of the course. Have them summarize the course material, discuss study techniques and learning strategies that helped them learn, explain problem areas they encountered with the material, and describe the class in terms of a general introduction for future students. Grade this work as a pass/fail (done/not done) assignment. The comments and suggestions might be used as part of a handout for students on the first day of class the next time you teach this course.
Haussermann, Carol. "How do you end your class?"
Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching, Western Kentucky University
Updated 4/16/13 cdw
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