What Did I Miss? + Upcoming Events

Recovering After Absences

At this point in the semester, you may be noticing an increase in absences or missing assignments. There are plenty of reasons: Students may be feeling overextended, and they often have trouble managing competing priorities. They may stop showing up because they’re stressed. Viruses are still making the rounds as well. After a student has missed a class or two, it’s all too easy to give up on a course. There’s still time to salvage the semester, though, even for students who have missed a week or more.

Student absences can put us in an awkward position. When we’ve designed engaging class sessions that advance their learning, we want to communicate that it’s essential to attend. At the same time, we need to be humane and flexible, since illnesses and other disruptions happen to everyone, including college students. And of course, they may infect others if they come to class when they’re ill, so we want sick students to stay home and recover.

So what can faculty do to help students who miss class? Here are some ideas:

  • Keep updated information about each class session’s goals, activities, and assignments on Canvas so that students can see what they’re missing when they’re absent. Providing a guide to what’s happening in and out of class can also reduce the number of queries you receive asking, “Did I miss anything when I was absent?” (The answer is always yes.)
  • Encourage students to make connections with each other during class. If they work together and get to know each other, they can help one another keep up with what’s happening in the course and catch up if they fall behind.
  • Ensure that assignments, exams, and grades are well distributed so that there is flexibility for the inevitabilities of life. Frequent low-stakes assessments also have many other benefits.
  • Make reasonable adjustments. Allowing students to make up the same assignment or activity that they would have done if they were present works well in some cases, and in others, you might need to adjust what students should do to catch up on their learning.
  • Proactively reach out to students who have missed multiple classes, communicating both concern and your expectations. A student who has missed several classes might feel too embarrassed or hopeless to reach out to you, but may respond if you contact them first.
  • If a student seems to have disappeared from class and you’re worried about their well being, you can report “concerning behavior,” like unexplained absences or deteriorating health, at report.fsu.edu.

Some approaches to attendance can actually be harmful. Here are a few to avoid:

  • Creating punitive attendance policies that might compel sick students to come to class.
  • Communicating about attendance, in the syllabus or in class, in a way that conveys suspicion or irritation.
  • Making attendance policies that are too complicated and time-consuming for you. For example, if you teach a large class and require all absences to be excused with written documentation, you might have to manage hundreds of excuses each semester. (Not to mention that not all students can afford to go to a doctor for every minor illness.)
  • Responding to student explanations or apologies for absences by disregarding or minimizing their concerns, or by assuming they’re untruthful.
  • Responding too quickly to student requests to make up missed work. It’s okay to let students know that you need some time to think about whether or how they can catch up.

If you’d like support with building flexibility into your course, or with communicating with students about their attendance or missed assignments, please contact us at pro-teaching@fsu.edu. We look forward to working with you!


Provost’s Showcase of Scholarly Teaching

Friday, April 5th | 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. | SSB 201/203

We are delighted to invite all faculty, staff, and teaching assistants to attend the inaugural Provost’s Showcase of Scholarly Teaching hosted this spring by CAT and FSU Libraries. This FSU-based mini conference offers opportunities to attend poster sessions where you’ll learn more about your colleagues’ innovative teaching practices, and to participate in roundtable discussions on a variety topics relevant to teaching across disciplines and contexts. We hope you’ll be inspired and enjoy building community around teaching with colleagues you might not otherwise have a chance to meet. Please join us to celebrate FSU colleagues’ outstanding teaching and energize yours, too!

Summer 2024 Course Design Institute

June 24-27 | 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. | In-person, lunch provided | Click to apply
Note: Based on requests from colleagues, this year we’re holding the CDI in Summer B.

CAT’s Course Design Institute (CDI) provides faculty with the time, structure, and support they need to craft transformative and inclusive learning experiences that reach and inspire their students. Course design and planning need not be lonely work; they are best accomplished in a community of peers who are similarly engaged. The seminar is a four-day series of hands-on workshops, during which faculty will hone their goals for student learning, plan effective use of class time, and work on sequencing and scaffolding coursework, as well as gathering valid evidence of learning. They will also work on strategies for fostering welcoming classroom climates and cultivating student motivation. Participants will gain:

  • Structured support to (re)design a course for maximum learning
  • Assistance and feedback on course design, including learning goals; assignment and exam design; effective use of class time; class activities; active-learning strategies; etc
  • Expertise in learner-centered teaching and backward design
  • Strategies for motivating students
  • Collegial community and peer feedback

Each faculty participant will receive a stipend of $2,000 upon successful completion of the course redesign. Seats are limited, and full-time faculty of all ranks are eligible. Priority will be given to courses that reach large numbers of students, and to applications from teams of faculty, either teaching multiple sections of the same course or courses that students take in a series. Participants must be able to attend all sessions of the workshop, complete pre-work, and submit final revised plans by August 1st.

You can apply through the link above. Please include a brief letter of support from your chair. The deadline to apply is Sunday, March 31st, and decisions will be made by Wednesday, April 3rd. If you have questions about attending the seminar, please email us at pro-teaching@fsu.edu. We look forward to working with you!