Teaching Tips for Reducing End-of-the-Semester Stress


From Debra Ballard:

Faculty and students tend to get overwhelmed by the frantic pace of the end of the semester. One undervalued process that often gets lost in the rush is time for reflection, a metacognitive activity that asks the students to critically think about the course, question concepts, draw conclusions, transfer knowledge, and synthesize. It is during reflection that deep learning occurs. Some teaching tips that support and encourage reflection are:

  1. Don’t introduce anything new. Concentrate on reviewing rather than new material that students don’t have time to absorb.
  2. Provide a sense of reflective closure by having students write about something they learned during the semester that surprised them or was an unexpected insight.
  3. Return to the syllabus and have students review the learning outcomes or goals of the class and consider how well they achieved them.
  4. Referring to the syllabus, ask students to argue what grade they think they should get and why.
  5. Have students compare work they did in the first week to what they are doing now.
  6. Ask students to reflect on how their thinking has been changed or enhanced.
  7. Extrapolate by asking students to consider how something they learned in the semester might be used in the future.

From the Katie Phillips:

  1. Positive reinforcement is the best teacher.
  2. It helps students to have an open, positive and clear discussion with the student when the work fails to meet grading criteria.

From Carol D. Branch, Students with Disabilities Services:

It is the professors, not just the accommodations that ensure success for students with disabilities. The majority of these tips are found inFaculty Training Tips: Guidance for Teaching Students with Disabilities, located in the SRC.

  1. Fill out Academic Warnings. Many times instructors are unsure if they are supposed to fill out an academic warning for a student with a disability. The answer is yes. While you should not include any reference to the disability, you should include the student’s progress and any deadlines that you have given the student. Extensions on assignments do not preclude the student from receiving an academic warning.
  2. When lecturing, use advance organizers and provide and outline. An advance organizer is when you explain what you will be discussing, how it fits into the previous lesson and why it is relevant. This sets the stage for learning. Outlines, whether on the board, handout, or on O-Space help students be able to see the structure of the lesson and know what to expect.
  3. Psychiatric Disabilities – It is perfectly alright to stand close to a student, but do not crowd his/her space when talking with the student. This may cause anxiety.
  4. Listen carefully when students speak in class. According to a study by Roxanne Ruzic, students with disabilities put forth more of an effort in the class when they felt “listened to by their professors.”
  5. Students with hearing impairments – Talk to the student. If a student uses an interpreter, you still should face the student when addressing him/her. The interpreter is a translator and does not necessarily have to look at you face to face. Talking to the interpreter may cause the student to feel left out.

See also the SDS website: http://www.otis.edu/disability-services