Making the Last Day of Class Count

"last day of school" spelled out in game letters
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This post is a modified version of an article that originally appeared on BizCommBuzz.


By the end of the academic year, both students and instructors are ready to call it quits. Students are bleary-eyed from finishing assignments and studying for finals. Instructors are gearing up for marathon grading sessions. It’s no wonder that in the hustle of the last few days of class instructors may forget to tie things up gracefully—especially when many of us just made it through our first couple months of teaching online.

Below are some ways instructors can take advantage of the last day of class and help students remember what they have accomplished.

Return to the beginning

Remind students of the course’s objectives and how the tasks they completed linked to those objectives. By reviewing the major concepts the course has addressed, students will come away with a sense of accomplishment.

Ask students to think about their new knowledge

Either in groups or individually, ask students to consider the new skills they have acquired compared to what they knew before the course. Doing so highlights what students have accomplished in a few months that will stay with them as they enter the workforce.

Have students reflect about their performance

To help students take responsibility for their own learning, ask them how their approach to the class helped or hindered their performance. Students can identify their successes as well as what they might have done differently. Ask students to send themselves a letter with these conclusions before the next term—a “note-to-self” reminder of lessons learned.

Invite current students to write to future students

By advising future students about how to get the most out of the course, current students think about their own learning experience. The suggestions to the next class can forewarn new students about potential challenges. Some instructors even take these suggestions and post them on the course website.

Create an end-of-class ritual

Mark the importance of ending the course as a community. Instructors can recognize students by presenting awards for excellence, most improved, and most engaged students. For in-person courses, some instructors ask students to organize a pot-luck for part of the last day as a way to celebrate everyone’s efforts. In today’s online setting, instructors can spread last-day merriment with a video dance off to their institution’s fight song, a virtual game show or an internet scavenger hunt!

Make their exit personal

In the final moments of the course, instructors might consider offering words of encouragement to each student, either as a class or individually. This creates an upbeat feeling as students step into their futures.


Looking for other peer-tested tips for boosting student engagement all year?