By Joyce T. Povlacs Teaching and Learning Center, University of Nebraska-LincolnIntroduction
Beginnings are important. Whether the class is a large introductory course for freshmen or an advanced course in the major field, it makes good sense to start the semester off well. Students will decide very early - some say the first day of class - whether they will like the course, its contents, the teacher, and their fellow students.
The following list of "101 Things You Can Do..." is offered in the spirit of starting off right. It is a catalog of suggestions for college teachers who are looking for a fresh way of creating the best possible environment for learning. Not just the first day, but the first three weeks of a course are especially important, studies say, in retaining capable students. Even if the syllabus is printed and lecture notes are ready to go in August, most college teachers can usually make adjustments in teaching methods as the course unfolds and the characteristics of their students become known.
These suggestions have been gathered from UNL professors and from college teachers elsewhere. The rationale for these methods is based on the following needs: 1) to help students make the transition from high school and summer or holiday activities to learning in college; 2) to direct students' attention to the immediate situation for learning - the hour in the classroom: 3) to spark intellectual curiosity - to challenge students; 4) to support beginners and neophytes in the process of learning in the discipline; S) to encourage the students' active involvement in learning; and 6) to build a sense of community in the classroom.