Thursday

Students Feedback

6 Ways to Improve Organization

  • Have clear learning goals for the course and communicate them to the students early and on a regular basis. State goals in terms of observable skills rather than vague generalities.

  • Have a well-organized syllabus showing major themes of the course, how they play out in the activities of the semester and the way you will evaluate student learning. Try to stick to key dates, such as exams and paper deadlines.

  • Use evaluation methods (tests, papers, projects) that are closely tied to your overall goals for the course.

  • Periodically update students on their progress toward the course goals.

  • Help students understand the underlying structure of the course content and how it fits together and relates to other courses. Draw a map or chart showing the organization of the content.

  • Prepare for each class period so that you have a clear idea of what is supposed to happen. Put an outline of the agenda on the board at the beginning of class.

6 Ways to Improve Communication

  • Lectures are enhanced when the lecturer places an outline of the presentation up throughout the session so that students can see where they are in the overall scheme of things. Refer to the outline as you move between topics.

  • Clearly signal the type of information you are presenting: Is it a key concept or just an elaboration? Are you still in the same topic area or are you about to move on? Use relational transition words (next, on the other hand, in contrast, etc.) to cue student attention and understanding of relationships.

  • Find the right density of information to use. Things that increase information density are technical terms, rapid presentation, abstractions with no examples, and overcrowded visuals. Things that reduce density are concrete examples familiar to the students, redundant sources of information, repetition, and pausing to allow for note-taking.

  • Include good, clear concrete examples with which students can identify to support communication. Also, invite students to give own examples.

  • Vary communication components: your voice, position, demeanor, use of visuals, and others, to add interest.

  • Be interested in your topic, your teaching, and your students and let your interest come through in your voice and expression.

5 Ways to Improve Interest in Students' Progress

  • Be aware of student understanding. Ways to monitor understanding include watching student reactions and note-taking patterns, interjecting questions or activities that require students to respond using the material being presented, inviting student questions, and acknowledging when material difficulty varies significantly.

  • Include activities in the class session that will give you feedback on how well students are grasping what is being taught. Communicate to students that you are aware of that understanding by building your class sessions on their responses.

  • Come to class early or stay later to interact with students and invite questions.

  • Learn your students' names and note how they are doing as you grade papers or tests.

  • Do not over-react when a student makes a mistake in class. Instead use it as an opportunity to guide some further learning by helping the students and you understand where the miscommunication came from.

5 Ways to Assure Prompt Return of Assignments

  • When scheduling assignments at the beginning of the semester, consider your own schedule and whether you will be able to return the materials promptly. Schedule accordingly.

  • Even if you can not give individual feedback to every student, you can create a summary sheet describing the most commonly occurring problems and their possible source and solution.

  • If you set rules, be sure to have a reason for them and stick to the rules for all students.

  • Include several measures of student performance in a variety of formats so as not to bias a student's grade because of difficulty with a single format.

  • If you supervise TAs, be sure that the TAs understand how you want grading to be done and that they return papers promptly.

8 Ways to Improve Students' Questioning and Idea Expression

  • Model how to react to difficult or challenging questions so that students understand what scholarly discourse sounds like. Think aloud as you solve problems so they can see what strategies you employ.

  • Be open and interested in what your students are saying and asking by making eye contact, actively responding to their comments, not interrupting them in mid-comment, and using all the other courtesies that you would accord to another adult.

  • When responding to student comments and questions, respond in a way that will not discourage future comments from this student or others. Agree to the extent you can, explore the basis for difference when you can not, and build on their ideas.

  • When you do not know an answer, say so and then model how you would go about thinking about the question in order to estimate an answer.

  • Engage students in active learning strategies that require them to think in more depth about the material being presented.

  • Use activities in class as a way of preparing for exam questions.

  • If you are teaching a controversial topic, have the class discuss the guidelines for handling disagreements and discomfort that might arise during the discussion.

  • Praise the student, not necessarily the answer.

3 Ways to Improve Course Value

  • Make connections between the course content and future courses, career uses, and ongoing events in and outside the class.

  • Bring in former students who have had opportunities to use the information in other arenas.

  • Keep the course content current and look for ways of stimulating your own interest.

5 Ways to Improve Course Workload

  • Give students a clear idea about the course requirements at the very beginning of the semester and then stick to that schedule.

  • Provide alternative ways for students to meet course requirements that might fit their needs or schedules.

  • Before giving a reading assignment or test, time yourself completing it to get a feeling for how long it is going to take.

  • Give students suggestions about ways to work smarter rather than harder in the class.

  • Have challenging, but clear expectations for student work quantity and quality. Provide models of the level of work you expect by putting student work from previous semesters up for comparison.

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