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Gleaning Insights from the Semester

Every time we teach a class, we learn something more about how students learn in our disciplines. Although we may think that we’ll remember these insights after the semester ends, the best policy is to write down our thoughts while they’re reasonably fresh. After the semester’s activities subside but before the memory fades, take a few moments to compile a list of teaching insights, successes, and missed opportunities from this semester. Doing this now will help you teach more effectively and efficiently next time.

  • How was the pace of the course? Did the schedule you planned in the syllabus “work”? What topics or concepts proved the most difficult for students, and is it possible to allow more time for those areas next time? Were there topics or concepts that seemed fallow and that could be deleted for next time?

  • What factors seemed to promote the most effective class sessions? When were students most engaged in your classes this semester? How might you prepare in order to maximize the incidence of such sessions in the future?

  • Did assignments both productively promote as well as meaningfully measure your students’ learning? Insights from your preceptors, AIs, lab instructors, and graders may be especially helpful as you consider how to make your course assessments more effective.

  • What did your students’ evaluations say about their perceptions of the course? How might their comments reflect specific difficulties in student learning? How might you address these difficulties in the future? You might find the ideas in the Scholar as Teacher tip sheet on “Interpreting Student Evaluations” helpful in gleaning more productive ideas from these evaluations.