We’ve been teaching and learning during a pandemic for a while, and let’s face it- it’s not easy for us, or our students. You are probably thinking a lot about the challenges faced by your students as you put the final touches on your course and begin meeting learners this week. Showing compassion and your commitment to equity in your courses is likely on your mind, but can be challenging to find even a smidge of time to build this into your plans. We’re here to help! Read on to find strategies and resources that can help you help your students feel confident and ready to succeed.
1- Consider making some specific moves in your online course design which can help students feel connected and reduce their stress. These can be small moves, such as providing estimates of how long it might take to complete a reading, video, or activity, to help students manage their time. More sustained strategies include staying in touch with students through weekly class messages, learning students’ names, or starting each class with a check in to let students share how their day or week is going. Check out these and many other Course Design Tips to Help Decrease Student Stress on CTAL’s site!
2- Help underline the importance of mental wellness, and its connection to academic success by linking students to mental health resources. A syllabus statement which helps students locate campus mental health supports can be an important bridge for a student in need of support, and the many services that are available. A sample syllabus statement on mental wellbeing is included in the UD syllabus template. You may also wish t point students who may wish to explore these topics on their own to Cameron’s Collection, a collection of eBooks available in multiple languages and geared toward college students which provides students with a safe, private and easy-to-use resource on mental health.
3- Have you reduced your course costs by moving away from expensive online textbooks or access codes? If so, let your students know! Research has shown that students report perceptions of kindness and encouragement from faculty that convert their course materials to open or affordable resources. This is also a great way to reduce one possible barrier and/or source of stress for students in the course. We know it’s a bit late to make a large change to your learning materials this semester, but if you’re interested in learning from UD faculty colleagues who have made the switch, join us for Open Education Week workshops and panel presentations.
4- Stressed-out students may need some encouragement to connect to the rich academic support resources available to them. Consider sharing information about tutoring, writing, or research consultation services that offer services beyond the bounds of the classroom. The Office of Academic Enrichment provides a variety of peer tutoring options and other academic support. These include inexpensive individual tutoring on Zoom and in person, drop-in tutoring in numerous courses and more. OAE offers additional academic support to students such as free workshops on time management, goal setting, and study strategies, academic coaching, and special services for students identified as at-risk. Things have not slowed down at the Writing Center, which is offering virtual writing support in two ways: etutoring, an asynchronous service, where students upload a draft and receive written feedback; and online tutoring, a synchronous service, where a student uses a virtual platform to have a real time conversation with a tutor. Librarians are also standing by to provide virtual support to students conducting research.