Taking the temperature of your class

It’s hard to believe that classes began five weeks ago, but somehow midterm is already on the horizon, and the deadline to drop a class is coming up in two weeks (on October 13). By this point in the semester, both you and your students need some feedback on their learning.

Students are justifiably anxious when they don’t know how they’re doing in a class, and their learning suffers without expert guidance. Losing a week of class so early in the term created a gap between our students’ first forays into the semester’s material and the opportunities they needed to apply, test, and build on their new knowledge. We’re off-balance, too, but we can preserve that learning if we maintain the cycle of clear goals, practice, and feedback. Hopefully, in addition to quizzes, homework, and exercises, your students have already taken at least one exam, or submitted a major assignment, so they know whether they’re on the right track. They need timely and targeted feedback on their work, so that they can make educated decisions about where to direct their effort and how to study, and you can decide whether to adjust any of your strategies or materials for the remainder of the term.

Grades provide essential data (for students and for you) but it’s useful to supplement with less formal strategies for taking the temperature of the class. Class-wide discussion of the learning goals, formative assessments, clicker questions, and minute papers are all great strategies. You might also try mid-course evaluations (more examples here).

You can also invite CAT to your class: we can talk to your students about how the learning experience is going, and meet with you to discuss what we hear. It only takes about 25 minutes of your class time, and is completely confidential. If you’d like to schedule a “midterm interview,” please write to us at pro-teaching@fsu.edu. We look forward to working with you!

Join us for the first CAT social hour, co-hosted with the University Libraries, on Thursday October 5, from 5-7 in the Robert Bradley Reading Room at Strozier Library. There’s no agenda, just a great chance to meet colleagues from across the university. See attachment below.

Sign up now for FALL 2017 Faculty Reading Groups!

Learner Centered Teaching
Tuesdays, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 12:00-2:00 pm

Make It Stick
Mondays, 10/9, 10/16, 10/23, 2:00-4:00 pm

Now You See It
Wednesdays, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 12:00-2:00 pm

Lunch will be provided at the noon meetings; coffee and snacks will be provided at the afternoon meetings. To RSVP, just email pro-teaching@fsu.edu and we’ll send you your copy of the book.