Explore Strategies - Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

My students don’t come to lecture.

Students feel anonymous given the size of the class and do not believe that their presence matters.

This feeling of anonymity is prevalent in large classes, but not necessarily confined to them. Students feel anonymous when they don’t have a relationship with the instructor, TAs, or other students. Overcoming these feelings of anonymity can help to create a sense of community among students and/or a connection to the instructor. Either of these can help to foster a sense of responsibility to the class.

Strategies:

Arrive early and chat with students.

Actively engage students.

Attempt to learn students’ names.

Encourage students to get to know one another. 

Arrive early and chat with students.

This is an opportunity for you to get to know more about your students; for example, you can ask questions that range from “How was your weekend?” or “Have you seen any interesting movies lately?” to “How difficult was the last homework assignment?” or “How long did the last lab take you to complete?” These quick and simple gestures will help students to build a sense of connection to you.

Actively engage students.

Find meaningful ways to actively engage students in the material, perhaps by posing intellectually interesting questions and allowing students to talk with each other during class, so that they feel part of an intellectual community. You can use the student response systems in many of the classrooms to have students “vote” on responses.

Attempt to learn students’ names.

While some people are much better at remembering names, students appreciate the attempt despite whether you are successful or not. Ask students their name when they pose a question or answer one of yours, and use the name in responding to them. Download a copy of the photo roster from ACIS and bring it to class with you.

Encourage students to get to know one another.

Building community helps foster a sense of responsibility to the class. For example, on the first day of lecture, ask students to introduce themselves to the four people surrounding them. If you assign group work, insist that groups change over the course of the semester. If you have students work in pairs during class, periodically ask students to sit in different places to broaden their interaction with peers.

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learning principles

  1. Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning. MORE>
  2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know. MORE>
  3. Students’ motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do to learn. MORE>
  4. To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned. MORE>
  5. Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning. MORE>
  6. Students’ current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning. MORE>
  7. To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning. MORE>