Faculty Matter Tip #12: Wrapping Up the Semester

With the exams and Winter Break looming, this is a time when faculty can feel particularly pressed for time. In the spirit of the “A stitch in time saves nine” adage, we offer this last Faculty Matter Teaching Tip for the semester.

Faculty Matter Teaching Tip #12:  Before you wrap up for the semester, leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help you reconstruct how you’d like to modify your courses before you teach them next.

Many of us tend to shove all of our teaching materials aside as soon as we are done submitting students’ grades. The essence of this final Faculty Matter Tip for the semester is that it might be productive to take some time to review the courses we have just wrapped up, and make some notes before moving on to other commitments and activities. Next time you teach the class, what might you want to add, what might you want to delete, what might you want to tweak a little bit, what might you want to change significantly, and what might you want to leave exactly as is because it went really, really well.

As you review your course materials, consider the following:

  • Were there topics that didn’t grab students’ attention as much as you had hoped or expected?
  • Were there concepts that students struggled with more that you had envisioned they might?
  • Were there activities or techniques that required more of your time than warranted, given the student gains you can attribute to them?
  • Did you come across resources that you didn’t have time to draw upon this semester?
  • Have you gotten ideas about things to try next time you teach the class?
  • Were there topics or activities or teaching techniques that really engaged your students or helped them master the material?

We encourage you to make some notes while these observations are still fresh in your mind.  Without this “trail of breadcrumbs” to jog your memory, as you sit down weeks or months from now to “refresh” the course, you may find it frustrating to try to reconstruct what changes you had thought might be fruitful. We also invite you to participate in any of the CFD sessions or workshops starting in January, or to sit down one-on-one with CFD staff, to flesh out your ideas about the changes you would like to make to your courses. In the meantime, please add your own strategies using the comment link below.

One thought on “Faculty Matter Tip #12: Wrapping Up the Semester

  1. I spend 20 minutes in the last class going over the assignments with the students and asking for their input. What worked to help them learn the material? What do they know now that they didn’t know at the beginning of the semester? What do they suggest I add, and what do they suggest I drop or change? How did the timing of the assignments work? Where did they have enough time to successfully complete the assignment, too little time, or just the right amount of time? What challenged them? What excited them? What did they think was boring and wasted their time? I take notes, take them seriously, and try to incorporate at least one of their suggestions in the next semester of the same course. I have received great suggestions that I have incorporated!!