Organization and Accessibility
Students want to know how to succeed. They want clear grading, and professors that are accessible in class for questions and via office hours. Many students appreciated that online learning increased avenues for getting questions answered. They also appreciate when professors check in for understanding.
Students appreciate clear organization, such as a clear syllabus and roadmap of key ideas. [6.1.1]
“Roadmapping farther than syllabus led to more intentional dialogue and task completion.” - Anthropology/Environmental Sciences/Digital Marketing
Photo: Anthropology/Environmental Sciences/Digital Marketing
Clear grading. Students want advance notice for how they’ll be graded and how to succeed. [6.1.2]
“The new tech we tried (Gradescope) made grading more transparent, students liked that. Students could retain their work at all times. Professor retains work at all times. TAs grade by problem not group of students. More fair grading.” - Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering Faculty
Photo: Chemical Engineering
Accessible professors. Students want to have access to professors via office hours or email. [6.2]
“Class worked because instructor was accessible. Accessibility was integral to my success. Helped me understand underlying concepts.” - Mathematics
“I did well because I felt supported in office hours. I was able to ask in-depth questions.” - Finance
Virtual office hours. Students say it’s more accessible to join online, rather than find time travel across campus. Students appreciated the increased options for getting their questions answered online, whether via the Zoom chat, online TA office hours, email, and re-watching lectures. [6.2.1]
“Loved the calendar to sign up for online office hours. Much easier to fit in time when online.” - American Studies/ Sociology
“In the chat (function on Zoom), I can get an in-depth response.” - Science Business
Top Photo: Political Science
Bottom Photo: Science Group
Checking for understanding. Students appreciate professors that check in to see whether students are understanding the material, and whether assignments are helpful. [6.3]
“Frequent quizzes allowed me to consistently gauge how I was doing.” - Mechanical Engineering
“Quizzes and frequent check-ins encourage me to engage more in lecture and homework.” - Mechanical Engineering
Photo: Program of Liberal Studies
Ideas for Organization and Accessibility
Below are some tangible ways to implement the above insights into your classroom structure.
Options for Office Hours
Allow students to come to office hours via Zoom or in-person depending on their schedule ability and learning needs.
Allow students to send emails during office hours for a quick response, if the above options aren't accessible.
Allow students to raise questions at the beginning of lecture from the homework.
Checking in For Understanding
Have students talk in pairs about what they still have questions on, or thoughts on a deadline. Write them down on a slip of paper to be anonymously passed in.
Low-stakes quizzes that model exam questions to gauge exam-readiness.
Modeling Success Leading Up to Exams
Students want a transparent understanding of what is expected of them on exam day. Ways of preparing students for how they'll be tested include:
Low-stakes quizzes that model exam questions to help students study effectively.
Practice tests for students to gauge exam readiness. Practice exams that provide a clear model of what students will be expected to do on the exam.
Homework and assignments that translate into exam-readiness. The content and style of homework and assignments translates to exam-preparedness.
An exam format sheet that details the various sections and problem types the exam will cover.
Ideas for Road-Mapping
A master timeline slide of the course that starts off each class, showing where the class is at in the content.
Segue. Taking the time to show concretely, or asking students to explain, how the current unit relates to the subsequent unit.
Key ideas lists, that summarize the most important points or chapters from each unit, for students to pay attention to as they prepare for final exams.
Incremental assignments that ask students to consolidate or practice problems using the key ideas and skills from that unit. One assignment per unit is sufficient; together, the assignments sum to all the important knowledge from the course, which the student can take with them.