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Academic Technology

Finish Strong: Reflecting and Planning Ahead

Spring flowers near Talley Student Union.
Photo by Becky Kirkland.

As the semester draws to a close, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of your courses and start planning improvements for future semesters. Use this checklist to guide reflection on critical components of course design and find resources to help you make revisions. 

We also invite you to join us for lunch and learn workshops with strategies to make your teaching easier next semester. These sessions are intentionally designed to provide solutions to teaching challenges such as keeping students on track, facilitating productive conversations and managing group work flow. 

Lunch and Learn Workshops:

As you are reflecting and thinking ahead, keep these key areas in mind:

Designing Course Presentation and Delivery

A clear presentation of course materials can significantly impact student understanding and engagement. Think about how students have interacted with the course structure and layout: Were they clear about your expectations? Did they navigate the technology smoothly, or were there hurdles that made learning more challenging? 

Evaluating Course Objectives

Your course objectives lay the groundwork for what you teach and how you assess student learning. Consider how specific and measurable your objectives have been. Are students aware of these goals and their purpose? This clarity helps students see the value in their assignments and ensures that every part of the course connects — from lectures and readings to projects and exams.

Learning Activities as Building Blocks

The learning activities you design are crucial for engaging students and reinforcing the skills they need. How varied were your activities, and how well did they help students meet the learning objectives? Reflecting on the effectiveness of these activities, especially in terms of how they align with and support the course objectives, can offer significant insights into enhancing student engagement and success.

Assessing the Assessments

Assessments are essential for gauging student learning and should measure true achievement of the learning objectives. Were there any surprises in how students performed? Your reflections could be a cue to revisit the assessments and how well they are communicated and aligned with the course objectives. 

Fostering a Vibrant Course Community

The strength of the course community greatly influences learning outcomes. A supportive and interactive environment can enhance student engagement and promote a deeper understanding of course content. Consider the dynamics within your course community: Was there a positive atmosphere? Did students interact constructively? Effective communication tools and strategies play a significant role in building this community, particularly in online settings.

Finding time to reflect on the semester while it is fresh in your mind will help you target areas that could be improved or refined for the next iteration. Choose the changes you want to make based on the impact you feel they will have and the time you have to devote to course improvement. It would be overwhelming to try to perfect every aspect of your course!  Here’s to finishing the semester and building an even stronger foundation for the next one!