The end of another academic year!

Here we are in the last week of classes and starting final exams. While it is easy to let off the accelerator a little bit, this is the time to put all our efforts into the final lap around the track. Role model the behaviors and attitudes that you want to see from your students–help them carry their natural momentum to the end of the academic year. With final exams fast approaching, we need our students to stay focused and committed to learning.

The last day of class is a time to praise students and show them how far they have come in a few short months. Everyone deserves and needs a pat on the back! Read what some faculty do to end the semester on a high note and ideas for the last day of class and  think about how you can adapt these ideas to fit your students, discipline and teaching style.

Think about incorporating some new review techniques into final exam preparation. Show students that getting ready for the final exam can be fun and productive.

Share these studying tips and techniques with your students. They can help this semester and in the future! Encourage study groups and ways of connecting that might make this time of year less stressful.

Once the grades are calculated and entered, it is easy to out the semester to bed and forget about our own learning. We have all learned so much this semester, from our students and our colleagues—reflect on this learning. Review your syllabus from the semester and decide NOW what worked well and what needs revision.  The postmortem should include assessment of how well you believe students met learning objectives and course competencies. Your assessment will give you a head start on next semester.

 

 

Wrapping up the Semester

At the end of the semester we are often preoccupied with crossing the finish line and getting grades submitted. We may overlook opportunities to wrap up the semester in a meaningful way for both our students and ourselves.  Faculty struggle over what has been left out and how to make sense of all the ground that has been covered from day one until now. By providing course closure and acknowledging student learning, we can promote a sense of achievement and recognize next steps in the learning process.

The last day of class is a time to praise students, examine teaching effectiveness and plan for the future–everyone deserves and needs a pat on the back!

Read what some faculty do to end the semester on a high note and ideas for the last day of class and  think about how you can adapt these ideas to fit your students, discipline and teaching style.

 

 

Creating a Rubric: The why and how…

Creating an effective rubric can seem daunting, but is well worth the effort and will save time grading. Grading rubrics are valuable tools for both instructors and students not only for grading purposes, but also as a tool to communicate expectations about skills and information mastery.

Sharing student learning goals and how these will be measured helps students to understand your assessment strategies. Rubrics also describe the importance of individual grading items and can emphasize learning priorities for students. Rubrics help students meet learning objectives and actually do better on assignments. It is a measure of respect we provide to students about how they will be assessed—they are less likely to be caught off guard.

Many resources exist for rubric construction, but most start with learning objectives for each lesson that are clear, specific and measurable. Once we know what students need to learn and how they are going to accomplish it, we can look at how to assess their progress and how to weight each learning goal in terms of relative importance.

This link to Carnegie Mellon University provides a strong induction to using rubrics and examples of rubrics for assignments, projects, presentations and more.

This primer on creating rubrics offers a simple how-to for creating a rubric. How to Create a Grading Rubric

MA is now designated as a Leap State which means that the AACU Value Rubrics are important for measuring program level student outcomes. Look at this resource for more information on Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE).

For examples of rubrics for assessing different types of learning, multiple disciplines and skills, look at Stephen F Austin State University, Association for the Assessment in Higher Education or the University of West Florida.

If you have interest in sharing a rubric you use any an assignment, please do. Send them to sheldonl@gcc.mass.edu and they can be added to the T & L site.

Syllabus

Creating a syllabus can be a daunting task. With so many approaches to teaching and course design, instructors often fall back on the ways in which they were taught and the policies they followed as students. Considering innovative approaches to course design can allow instructors to meet student needs in new ways and provide important flexibility for adult students. Even if you have been teaching a course for many semesters, there are little tricks to keep your syllabus fresh and on-target.

While there is no one right way to design a course, there are some mandates for what is included in your syllabus. Be sure to include course learning objectives–you want students to know what they will learn. Make sure that your policies are clear–the syllabus is a contract and will act as a reference point if issues arise later about late work, attendance or other common problems.