What’s changed in how we teach, learn, and how have those changes have helped many of us better serve our students and our community? Recently, we’ve fielded questions about everything from Student (Office) Hours to in-class discussions. Here’s what’s changed and what we’ll keep working on.

Rethinking “Office” Hours

Just because students are back on campus, doesn’t mean they are beating down doors for in-person meetings with their instructors. But one-on-one, or small group discussions about course concepts are critical opportunities to both clarify misconceptions in teaching, but also build a sense of belonging and community. Many of our colleagues have started calling these moments “Student Hours” to encourage students to see the time as dedicated for their use. Whatever you choose to call, it, make sure you have a plan to encourage and engage your students. CTAL has compiled a new resource full of evidenced-based suggestions to help both you and your students make the most of this time.

Cultivating discussions in-person

Many of our students are new to in-person college courses, and that means they are not fully comfortable or prepared for engaged in-person discussions. For some students, using the chat function in synchronous zoom sessions or adding comments to asynchronous discussion boards was an easier way to connect with other students and their instructors. If discussion is an important teaching tool for you, here are some ideas to help get students sharing and engaging:

  • Tie in-person discussions with out-of-class discussion board posts. You can use discussion boards as a place for students to posit an idea, ask probing questions, or partially pull together their thoughts on a reading or assignment. Prior to an in-class session, skim those online comments and use them to engage students directly in class. Make sure your students know you’ll be doing this, so that they can be prepared when you call on them.
  • Start with a poll.
    • Poll Everywhere– Open-Ended Questions: Polling has the power to pull your students into the conversation, no matter how large the class is or where your students are participating from. Use open-ended questions for synchronous discussion that the entire class can participate in.
  • Try online annotation to start the conversation.
    • Perusall– Collaborative Annotation tool: Perusall allows students to annotate readings and asynchronously respond to each other’s comments and questions in context. In addition, Perusall provides a “confusion report” which highlights common questions and top comments. Instructors can use questions and top comments collected asynchronously to guide synchronous discussion.

What has changed for you?

Leave us a comment below and let us know what changes you’ll be keeping in the semesters to come.

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