While students look forward to turning in their last test or paper and commencing on their summer activities, you still have work to do before you end the school term.
For the next few weeks, you’ll have a lot on your plate, but before you close the books on this semester, consider taking these four steps, which can help you end the term on an especially productive note, and put you in good stead for your next term.
Four Activities that Will Help You End the School Term Well
1. Reflect on what you’ve learned and observed this semester.
Think through the assignments and exams from the term. Which ones truly supported your course’s learning objectives and goals? Which ones didn’t? Which ones could work, with a bit of revision? Also give some thought to the class discussions: would your course benefit from more, or less? How about your lectures: how might you revise or update them before teaching this course again? Have any teaching tools or technologies you’d like to try out next term? By considering these things now, rather than later this summer, you’ll have your thoughts and experiences fresh in your mind, as well as adequate time to start addressing those areas where you’d like to make changes.
2. Review your students’ end-of-term feedback.
Taking a careful look through students’ evaluation forms will help you consider your students’ perspective on what proved successful, and what you might need to re-address.
The “official” feedback forms distributed by your institution can, of course, provide useful insights. However, as Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie suggest in McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, you might also ask students to respond to such questions as:
- “What has the teacher done that has helped you learn?”
- “What have you done that has helped you learn effectively in this course?”
- “What suggestions do you have for improvement?” (Svinicki and McKeachie, 336)
Want additional suggestions for using students’ evaluations to update or refresh your class? Read our post about using end-of-term student feedback for classroom growth.
3. Go over the assessment data from this term.
The data you glean from students’ performance on your examinations will also provide you with a window into the effectiveness of your methods, strategies, and (of course) the exams themselves. What, in particular, should you look for? As Erin Doppke, instructional designer, notes: if most students fail to perform well on a given exam (or a particular question), that could be a signal that you may need to revise your test questions for greater clarity, or that you might need to adjust the way you deliver course content. However, if all students perform equally well, it may be a sign that they aren’t challenged enough, and you should consider ways to increase the rigor of the exam or your course materials. Glean more specific advice on this topic in our post Using Assessment Data to Tweak Next Semester’s Instruction.
4. Relax and celebrate!
Once you’ve wrapped up your last lecture, graded your course’s final assignments, turned in your grades, and completed any other administrative tasks, take some time to celebrate! Whether you’re getting ready for a vacation, heading out on a trip to work on your own research, or moving on to your summer courses, do make sure that you have room for some R&R on the schedule. You might want to start crafting your summer reading list, or have lunch with your colleagues at a favorite local restaurant before everyone goes their separate ways. Whatever you do, make it a relaxing and fun way to transition into the summer season.
Reference: Svinicki, Marilla and Wilbert J. McKeachie. 2014. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 14th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.