Connecting with (and among) our students (Teaching Tip)

Students meeting with Joel Geske at Hixson Lied Success Center

The fall messages from Provost Wickert and Associate Provost VanDerZanden discussed the importance of wellbeing for students, faculty, and staff. As instructors, we can offer support for wellbeing in the classroom by ensuring all our students feel welcomed and included.

During the annual inclusive classroom training (AY22-23), we use the mindful and learner-centered syllabus toolkit (PDF) to guide discussions about connecting with our students throughout the semester. We incorporate active learning to connect faculty and build community while they talk about teaching inclusively. We know these facilitated peer interactions matter because, in the post-survey, we read responses such as, “… I like having to do this annually because it does force us to talk about teaching, which we rarely do with each other,” and “We have many dedicated faculty who keep working on improving their teaching — including making the classroom inclusive!”

Here are a few strategies to create connections:

Example: When teaching for 50 minutes, intentionally pause twice for 90 seconds. During those 90-seconds, request that your students review their notes, then ask a neighbor if they discovered anything unclear in those notes. Researchers found that students will recall more content if brief engagement activities are introduced into the lecture (Prince, 2004).

  • Reflect on peer interactions: Give students regular opportunities to reflect upon ways their peers enhance their learning at the end of a class with the questions, such as: “What did you learn from someone else today? How did your peers support your learning today?”
  • Promote student office hours: Now is the time to encourage students to use student office hours early and often. Connect with those seeking help, wanting to discuss your discipline, or share any feedback; see CELT’s student office hours.
  • Find out what matters: Express a commitment to continuous growth by inviting periodic feedback about the course and their learning; see CELT’s Use formative feedback page for ideas.

To discuss additional active learning strategies, attend the Simple methods to keep students engaged webinar on Sept. 26 (12:10-1 p.m., online via Zoom) presented by Megan Myers (Associate Professor, World Languages & Cultures and CELT Faculty Fellow).

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti

References and resources are available on the training (AY22-23) page.

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Connecting with (and among) your students (September 15, 2022)

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for September 15, 2022 (PDF).