In what ways does your course include teaching methods that promote community building (i.e., students getting to know one another)?
Consider partnering with the Honors GURUs program. From the web site: GURUs seek to build a community within the classroom by contributing to discussion, facilitating activities and serving as a resource to students. They aim to strengthen the relationship between the professor and student by encouraging communication in and outside the classroom, seek to foster community within the Honors Program and encourage success in the Program and the university.
Have students take a basic 20 question quiz about topics related to the class (i.e., Chemistry class-possible quiz question is “what is the notation for common table salt?”). Give them 5 minutes. Ask the class how many received a 100%, 90%, etc. Count off groups and have them work together to complete the quiz in the group. After about 5 more minutes, have students return to their seats and discuss the answers. Ask class how many of their grades improved when working with their peers. Indicate that this is not the only time they should use their classmates to learn class material.
Establishing Class Expectations (adapted from On Course Success Strategies)
- Begin the activity by stating: “Every person in this class has had previous educational experiences whether in high school, on the job training, or prior college classes. I’d like you to silently reflect on those experiences, focusing specifically on the instructors who you feel were ‘good’ instructors.” (2 minutes)
- Write a header on one board that says “Professor” or “Instructor.” Ask the students to share aloud what they think are the most important qualities of a good instructor. List the qualities under the header as the students call them out. The students will likely be suggesting such qualities as “on time,” “prepared,” and “kind.” (5 minutes)
- Write every quality/characteristic the students state without censoring (unless of course, they state something inappropriate) until they can think of no more to list. When it appears the list has been exhausted, you can suggest and record some that may not have been mentioned. (10 minutes)
- To model a positive behavior and to reinforce their participation, praise the students for coming up with such a good list, creative qualities, unexpected responses, etc. Then say, “OK, now that you’ve come up with a list of qualities that make a good instructor, let’s do the same for qualities that make a good student.” Write a header on another board that states “Student.” Follow through as before, having them list the qualities of a good student. Once again positively reinforce their participation. (10 minutes)
- At this point ask the students to study the two lists. Ask, “Does anybody notice anything interesting about these two lists?” Hopefully, someone will notice that the two lists have a lot of qualities in common. If no one notices, or wants to say, then make a statement to that effect. For example, “Isn’t it interesting that both lists share many of the same qualities?” Make a statement about the observations such as, “So it appears you think many of the same qualities you like to see in a good instructor also apply to being a good student. I agree.” (5 minutes)
- Dive a bit deeper by asking students questions such as, “How do you know if an Instructor is prepared?” or “How can you tell if a student is respectful?” Help them identify observable behaviors, such as, “A prepared instructor has handouts ready for each class. A respectful student keeps quiet when others are talking.” (5 minutes)
- Here’s the pay off. Say, “I’d like to make a deal with you. I promise that I will do my very best to exemplify all the qualities in the ‘good instructor’ list if you will promise to do your best to exemplify all of the qualities in the ‘good student’ list. Do we have a deal?” At this point you may also want to add that either you or the students can point out (kindly and respectfully) at any time if they think the other isn’t living up to their end of the deal. (10 minutes)
- Seal the deal, if you would like, by writing out and signing the agreement. This step will add approximately 15 minutes to the original time allotted.
Information contributed by the following:
- Student Learning Centers – To contact, call 928-523-5524.
- The e-Learning Center – For additional suggestions, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-523-5554.