Students can’t stop sharing memes in class? Won’t turn their cameras on during your virtual lecture? Would rather take a zero than raise their hand to ask a question?
We can help! We’ve gathered a quick list of tips and tricks from your fellow instructors to help you ensure your students are feeling excited and ready to engage in your course, no matter what format it’s taking.
Prepping for Your Course
- Set up a “course essentials” module in your Learning Management System (LMS) so students can easily find key information about your course.
Math Instructor Elisabeth Peters, University of North Carolina Wilmington, said, “I create a ‘course essentials’ module in my LMS so students can find the most important information to get started at any time (especially for those who add the class late). This course essential module includes a ‘"Start Here’" page with 5 or so tasks students need to do the first week, important documents such as the syllabus and course calendar, online learning platform information and links, and university resources/student support.”
- You know all the ins and outs of your course. But, have you tried exploring your course through a student’s eyes?
Math Instructor Kim Berge, SUNY Morrisville, relayed, “I recommend working through the course in student view. In my online learning platform, ALEKS®, I complete the Initial Knowledge Check and work in learning and practice modes, so that I can better understand how the course looks and works from a student perspective and better answer their questions.”
- Depending on the size of your class, start students’ semester off on the right foot by providing them with the tools they need for success in your course.
Chemistry Instructor Cassandra McCullum, Bishop State Community College, explained to do this, she likes to give her students a small gift packet that includes basic supplies they would use throughout the semester, such as a black pen, a calculator, and a lock.
Kicking Off Your Course
- For students, what could be better than starting off your first day with some extra credit?!
On the first day of class, Cassandra McCullum likes to give bonus points to the early arrivers to show the importance of attendance and arriving on time.
- It wouldn’t be the first day of class without knowing your class roster will likely undergo some changes.
Because so many students are adding and dropping classes in their schedules during the first week of class, Elisabeth Peters recommends spreading your first day of class content throughout the week (where possible) to ensure all students are aware of your course expectations.
- What’s more classic on the first day of class than some ice breakers?
While it may seem silly to have your students share 2 truths and a lie about themselves, it’s a great way for not only you to learn a little bit about your students, but to set a precedent that students are encouraged to share their thoughts in class and to begin creating a community. Kim Berge relayed she likes to complete these ice breakers on the first day before diving into her course expectations.
- Community is key!
Instructor Elisabeth Peters explained it’s important for her students to understand that open dialogue is encouraged in her classroom, and students should feel free to respond to and ask questions. She said, “I like to give students opportunities to work with and teach each other during class time. This could be a 5-minute ‘try this problem with the people around you' or a more formal group activity or problem set in class.”
- Reward students who follow the guidelines of your course.
Instructor Cassandra McCullum shared, “I give evaluation points for students who follow all guidelines the entire semester, are never late, submit assignments on time, do not break or lose glassware (in the lab), clean up their work area and equipment, and participate during class discussions.”
- You don’t have to be tech support!
Instructor Kim Berge recommends posting contact information for Tech Support (whether it be for ALEKS, McGraw Hill Connect®, or any other digital solution you are using) to your LMS so students always know where to go for questions.
We hope you find these tips helpful, and we wish you and your students success this upcoming semester! Have a tip you’d like to share with us? Let us know!