(from Faculty Focus) Higher education has recently changed in faster and more dynamic ways than anticipated. COVID-19 is an immediate factor, but the access to information is more prevalent now than 15 years ago. Many students’ learning habits do not include long nights in the library reading through textbooks or searching through library stacks. Information is at students’ fingertips, and the desire for immediate access to information is only growing. There is a real sense in which students want answers now, and as educators, we are tasked with cultivating the intellect, which is a laborious process. “Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful” (Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel, 2014). In other words, deep learning is hard work. We know this, and we are faced with convincing students that deep learning is meaningful and rewarding.
Ending the Semester
(from Georgetown University The Teaching Commons) A semester is a marathon effort, and, by the time you reach the end of it, it’s quite possible that everyone—you and the students both—will be exhausted, and perhaps very ready to leave the course behind. But one last thoughtful push can ensure that the course’s conclusion is meaningful in its own right. Think about a) looking back, b) gathering feedback, and c) looking forward regarding this semester's courses.
Fizzle or Finale: The Final Day of Class
(from Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence) Many courses end with a fizzle. Frank Heppner (2007) aptly says, “In most classes, The Last Lecture was about as memorable as the rest of the class had been – that is, not very.” The final class should bring the course to an appropriate conclusion or finale. “For many..., the last day of class comes and goes without ceremony, yet it provides an opportunity to bring the student-teacher experience to a close in a way that students appreciate and enjoy” (Lucas and Bernstein, 2008). How can you make the final day into a finale? Some ways are: give a memento, “pass the torch,” and make emotional connections.
Assigning Course Grades
(from University of Illinois Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning) The end-of-course grades assigned by instructors are intended to convey the level of achievement of each student in the class. These grades are used by students, other faculty, university administrators, and prospective employers to make a multitude of different decisions. Unless instructors use generally-accepted policies and practices in assigning grades, these grades are apt to convey misinformation and lead the decision-maker astray. When grading policies are practices that are carefully formulated and reviewed periodically, they can serve well the many purposes for which they are used. What might a faculty member consider to establish sound grading policies and practices? With careful thought and periodic review, most instructors can develop satisfactory, defensible grading policies and procedures.