Gone in 60 Seconds

Setting Priorities for the Last Few Weeks

All of a sudden there are only two weeks of classes left in the semester. How did this happen?

Whether it’s a class session or a whole term, when we feel like we’re running out of time to teach, it can be tempting to speed up the pace to fit in as much content as possible before we part ways with our students. But this time of year, students are usually inundated with projects and exams, so their capacity for processing loads of new material is limited.

At any point in the semester, we know that the more content we try to race through, the less students actually learn. To learn deeply, they need opportunities to think, to analyze, to apply concepts, and to develop skills through practice and feedback.

So instead, when we feel time running short, we can prioritize. What are the most important learning goals? How did you hope students would grow intellectually, professionally, and personally because they took your course? What is most important to talk about, to do, and to work on in the final weeks, so that students have the best chance of accomplishing those goals?

You may also be giving a lot of feedback at this point in the semester, and going back to the goals and priorities can be helpful with that, too. For example, if you’re writing comments on students’ projects, it’s helpful to remember that they cannot learn everything we hope to teach them through the feedback on a single paper or presentation. If we give too much feedback, they may not be able to process it all, or know what is most important to improve in their next attempt. So, again, we have to prioritize. We can ask, what did I most want them to learn from doing this project? And we can align our feedback with the priorities: We can comment on the most important goals students have accomplished, and the most important things they should work to improve. This way we can make the most of our precious resources: our time and students’ attention.

If you’d like support as you set priorities for the end of the semester, or help giving targeted feedback on student work, please email us at pro-teaching@fsu.edu. We look forward to working with you!