TEACHING NOTES: How do I support my students beyond orientation?

Semester has begun. You’ve welcomed the students, developed mutual expectations, set the tone for the semester and feel like you’ve got it right. Assessment is finalised and available to students; rubrics are completed (and available to students) and learning activities are developed. Students are participating in O’Week activities, which this year stretch across the first few weeks of the semester, but beyond this, how are you actively supporting their success?

The First Year Support Strategies (FYSS) portal provides a great outline for a number of strategies you can consider across any year level to support your students’ success. Beyond orientation, consider the following:

How will you support skill and knowledge development throughout the teaching period?

There are so many ways you can achieve this. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Develop momentum in your topic – irrespective of whether you teach face-to-face or online, can you tap into any concerns or anticipation the students may have about upcoming content? You can use postcards or the Feedback tool in FLO to get a feel for this and build upon it for the next learning activity the students have.
  • Set goals within the topic – you could consider a progress bar so students can see how far along they are getting, or have them set mini-goals around their own learning to help them self-direct learning. Muddiest point activities at the end of a teaching period can be helpful to guide this.
  • Contextualise the content – for online students, you could try a short video or audio clip introducing each upcoming module. This can also be used within FLO for face-to-face students, especially where attendance is not mandatory at lectures or tutorials. Some staff will use an open educational resource that is thought-provoking to generate discussion (either in forums or in class) or have framing questions for the content (including readings) to help ground students in the learning activities.
  • Engage the students with each other – in class this might include talking to the person next to them, working in pairs or small groups. ‘Think, pair, share’ activities are good to orient students to sharing with each other as these tasks ask them to think individually about something, then share with the person next to them, then with their small (or large) group. This effectively scaffolds sharing activities allowing students to get used to them. For online students, you could try using Collaborate for synchronous discussion amongst the students. Some staff have specific Collaborate groups just for students to use with each other, as well as for teaching-specific purposes. The Chat tool can also be useful along with the usual discussion forums.
  • Encourage active learning – students who are actively participating in class are more likely to be learning than those who aren’t. Aside from encouraging discussion with others, you could try online polling to get a feel for what the students are ‘getting’ and what they are not. Active quiz is the FLO tool that allows real-time quizzing so you can show responses immediately and discuss. You could also use the Feedback tool and copy and paste the responses into a word cloud to discuss on the spot. The same tools can be used for online students but instead of discussing results immediately, they can be discussed during a Collaborate session, via the discussion forums, or even in a short video or audio clip you post.

Finally, remind students of assessments – assessment is important to students so making the link between their learning activities and the assessment and how it fits together can be very motivating for student learning. You can put prompts in FLO in the Calendar block, include links to resources in assessment activities, and you can even include examples of high and poor quality work to guide them.

So, think about what sorts of supports your students may need beyond O’Week and start building these into your teaching!

(Note: This work is based substantially on the information found in the First Year Support Strategies (FYSS) portal.)

Written by Cassandra Hood
Academic Developer – CILT

Posted in
Teaching Notes

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