Small Changes: Big Results

We are a month into Spring and the time for adjustments or changes may seem to have passed. It is not too late to make a small change that could make a big difference for your students. I often return to the Small Change Series from James Lang during these moments because it is such a pragmatic guide to making adjustments during the semester (you only need a free Chronicle account to access these). In this tip I want to recommend an excerpt from his short essay on the last five minutes of class (library link) where instead of cramming in another example or theory you could try out a connection exercise. 

Closing connections. If we want students to obtain mastery and expertise in our subjects, they need to be capable of making their own connections between what they are learning and the world around them — current events, campus debates, personal experiences. The last five minutes of class represent an ideal opportunity for students to use the course material from that day and brainstorm some new connections.

Finish the last class of the week five minutes early, and tell students that they can leave when they have identified five ways in which the day’s material appears in contexts outside of the classroom. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they can come up with examples when this activity stands between them and the dining hall.

I liked this suggestion because it promotes student activity and a solution to something we sometimes struggle with–helping students see themselves in the work we are doing. 

Finally, just a reminder that we are still soliciting feedback on our summer programming through tonight at 11:59pm. Please help us better understand your needs by filling out this brief survey.

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

All past Tuesday Tips are curated on the FDEV website.

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