3 Steps to Prepare for a Better Spring Semester

December 17, 2014 Kristen Hicks

The end of the fall semester comes suddenly in a flurry of overwhelming work, finals, and holiday celebrations. Your break will feel well earned. But before you turn off the work thoughts entirely, take some time to gather ideas on how to start out the spring semester better prepared to meet your educational goals.

Good planning is a cornerstone of faculty success. Some extra preparation can make your spring semester stronger and help you come back to your classes recharged and ready to go.

1) Give (and pay attention to) class surveys. Take time before the fall semester is over to let your students weigh in on how the class is going. Are there assignments they’ve found especially valuable? Is there anything about the course they’ve found challenging?

You can pick up on a lot of what’s working for students by paying attention in class, but you can’t see everything they’re going through. One of the best ways to support struggling students is to listen. As the saying goes, it never hurts to ask. Your course could end up much stronger and more useful to your students based on their feedback.

2) Review the data. Students can provide some valuable input themselves, but you may have another powerful tool to gain insight into how the class is going: learning-assessment data. Faculty members that use embedded assessment can review the data they’ve collected to get a clear picture of how students are performing in the class and what teaching methods are working best. This data can provide a wealth of information to help you make your courses more effective and produce better learning outcomes.

Do students respond better to multimedia than to written text alone? Use that information to create successful exams. Are some students struggling with certain concepts or subject areas? Step in to help them get the student-remediation help they need.

The data can tell you if you need to reemphasize subject areas the class still doesn’t quite get, or if you can replace lessons regarding concepts they already have down with something more useful. If you don’t have any embedded-assessment data today, we can help you correct that so you can use it in future semesters.

3) Incorporate what you’ve learned into the syllabus. Every class is a little different, and even if you’ve taught the same course for a long time, you can still find ways to improve student learning that are based on the specific needs of today’s students. The feedback and data will give you what you need to know to provide a more student-driven version of the course.

By tailoring your spring semester’s syllabus to the needs of your students, you’ll provide them a more effective learning experience and produce better learning outcomes. It takes a little time to plan effectively for an above-average semester, but the results for you and your students can make all the difference.

Numerous ExamSoft clients have already seen firsthand how embedded assessment can improve faculty success. If you’d like to learn more, let us know.


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