Markers of spring: the trees have flowered and are now sporting baby-green leaves, the daffodils have come and gone, and some of your students may have already started to check out.
Summer is upon us! But not just yet. How do you keep your content delivery interesting and your students motivated during these last few weeks of the semester? From Edudemic, here is a short run-down of four ways to increase engagement in the classroom. With the exception of moving around the classroom, the other three suggestions (high expectations, real-world applications, and technological engagement to build connections) would work equally well in an online course. And, if you interpret “moving around the classroom” as part of a larger strategy of mixing up your presentation and student participation styles, even this piece of advice becomes applicable to the online classroom. For example, if you’ve always had students respond to your discussion prompts, you might ask them to submit discussion questions based on the week’s content.
If you prefer your information in visual form, this is a lovely infographic about reaching distracted students. I especially like that two of their suggestions (cooperative learning and peer instruction) focus on the students as communicators and meaning-makers. After all, at this point in the semester, your students should have a decent understanding of the larger course themes and be able to work together to situate new knowledge in that context. This could be done in pairs, small-groups, online in threaded discussions, or in some other format appropriate for your subject, such as a role-play or case-study.
If nothing you’ve read so far seems like it will work for your group of students, your classroom, or your content, this is a laundry list of 21 simple ways to motivate students. Sometimes, sharing control of and responsibility for the learning experience can go a long way toward keeping students interested. Giving students a choice – of which texts to read, which prompts to answer, how to demonstrate their skills, or with whom to work – may be just the trick. Likewise, a clear (and clearly articulated) learning objective can help students focus on what they need to be doing in order to succeed. Changes like this can be made to one lesson or one activity without needing to re-vamp your entire syllabus at this late date.
Best, if you find that some of these strategies work for you and your students, you can add them to your toolkit and pull them out as needed to keep motivation high throughout the next course you teach.
We’d love to hear from you about what you’ve found works well to keep students going in these final weeks of the semester. Comment away!