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Center for Teaching & Learning: Engaging Your Students

Supporting the MCPHS faculty and staff in their commitment to excellence and innovation in teaching and learning

Be Present

Challenge Your Students

Encourage active participation during live sessions through discussions, polls, and breakout rooms.

Assign challenging and thought-provoking tasks that require critical thinking and problem-solving.

Provide opportunities for students to apply course concepts to real-world situations.

Use asynchronous discussion forums for students to reflect on course content and engage in deeper discussions.

Offer timely and constructive feedback on assignments to support student learning and growth.

Supporting Your Students

Reduce Student Stress

Lower their feelings of isolation: Check-in with them. Ask them how they are doing. Listen and be authentic. Make it easy to meet with you – try Office 365 Bookings for easy office hour scheduling.

Increase their sense of control: We’ve lost control over many aspects of our lives. Give some back to your students. Offer choice by offering options for completing an assignment (a presentation, poster, infographic, paper). 

Lower their cognitive load: Establish consistent course structure and weekly pace. Create a learning space where the expectations are explicit, the connections between assessment and course objectives are transparent, and your students know “what’s next”. 

Build connections for all: Support student-student and student-instructor connections on a personal level to build trust and a sense of safety within your class. These enhance motivation and improve learning outcomes. Include ice breakers, offer personal perspectives, create an open discussion forum for informal discussion and questions, ask for student feedback more often, or take time for a “fun” day (invite students to coffee or tea during a live class, create a discussion forum for posting a pet picture).

Pare back the coursework and retain the rigor: Review how each assignment aligns with the course objectives. Do you have too few or more than enough assignments to achieve and measure your students' learning? In a learning management system, it's easy to keep adding more content and more assignments - there's always room. Reducing the number of assignments, substituting a high-stakes final paper with several lower-stakes assignments, or extending the timeframe for an important assignment while removing some quizzes or a discussion are all pedagogically sound approaches that reduce student stress. 

Attracting and Maintaining Student Attention

Attracting and Maintaining Attention

Attention comes before motivation, engagement, and learning. But, when students are stressed, gaining their attention is harder. Adopt these simple practices to create more compelling content.

  • Keep them watching and listening. Vary your facial expressions, tone, and pace.
  • Enhance student attention and retention through shorter presentations. Break up (chunk) your longer lectures by sub-topics or objectives. Think about 10-15 minutes (or less) per recording.
  • Instead of text-dense slide presentations, create a Notes document to share with students.
  • Reserve slides for relevant pictures, diagrams, or brief outlines. Then, supplement them with narration and a transcript (if possible). 
  • Use strong color contrast when including text in slides or video, but avoid neon.
  • Use fonts designed for online reading. Arial and Verdana decrease eye strain and increase retention. Whichever font you choose, be sure to use a san-serif font.

Flipped Classroom

What is a flipped classroom?

Online or on campus - you can flip your class!

The Flipped Classroom is a blended learning model. Instead of a lecture hall full of students listening to a professor, imagine a classroom filled with students working in groups to solve problems. Students interact with new material (recorded lectures, videos, readings) for homework. They use class time to discuss the new information and put those ideas into practice.

What does it mean for my teaching?

If you use lectures as your primary mode of delivering new content, you'll record those presentations in advance and share them in the learning management system. Class time can then be spent eliciting questions, correcting misunderstandings, observing groups, posing questions for deeper conversations. When you flip a class, you need to develop a class routine to structure that open time previously devoted to lecture. 

Learning Activities at Home

  • Watch an online lecture
  • Review online course material
  • Read physical or digital texts
  • Participate in an online discussion
  • Perform research

Learning Activities in the Flipped Classroom *Yes, you can do much of this online too!

  • Skill practice (guided or unguided by teacher)
  • In-person, face-to-face discussion with peers
  • Debate
  • Presentations
  • Station learning
  • Lab experiments
  • Peer assessment and review
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