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It’s Not Too Late: Making Mid-Course Adjustments

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On many campuses right now, it’s midterm season. Students and faculty are feeling the strain of heavier workloads, colds and viruses are making the rounds, and the enthusiasm that marked the first few weeks of school seems like a distant memory, at least on certain days.

But if things aren’t going as well as you’d like in one of your courses, it’s good to remember that there’s still almost half a semester left, at least five or six weeks, maybe more depending on your institution’s calendar. That’s certainly time enough to make some changes, if you’re so inclined. (Of course, keep in mind your institution’s policies: after the initial syllabus is distributed, you may not be able to change the grading rubrics or percentages, or alter major course components.) But there are usually smaller, but still effective changes you can make. Here are some things to consider:

Readings:

  • Are class lectures and discussions keeping pace with your syllabus?
  • Would dropping or changing a reading allow time for other activities you’d like to include, or help students to catch up?
  • Do students need more guidance, like reading questions, to help them understand the course materials?

Assignments:

  • Are you satisfied with the assignments you planned?
  • Would changing them help your students to better understand the material?

Class Activities:

  • Are you feeling bored with the day to day routine in your classes?

Midterm Evaluation:

  • A simple midterm evaluation, as both George and Meg Worley have discussed, can help you better understand what students are getting out of the class and where they are struggling.

Speaking personally, I’m taking some time now to change the scaffolding of the final project assignments in my courses, based on student performance in the earlier assignments. I’m also going to adjust some of the reading assignments. It’s not too late to make improvements that can still impact student outcomes as well as our shared classroom experience for the remaining weeks of the term.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Christopher Sessums]

Are you going to make some mid-course adjustments this term? Let us know in the comments!

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