Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

Students come to class late.

Students don’t perceive the beginning of class as important.

The first minutes of class are often the most critical, since this is when instructors share important administrative information, present the day’s agenda, frame the content of the lecture or discussion, connect the current content to past content, and so forth. Yet students may not recognize this.


Explain why the beginning of class is important.

Like the beginning of a film or the introduction to a book, the beginning of class supplies students with critical background and organizational information necessary for deeper understanding. When students miss this framing information their learning suffers. By the same token, make sure that students know that coming on time also has social benefits in that it gives students time to chat with one another and the instructor before class begins, thus contributing to the morale of the class as a whole.

Make the beginning of class meaningful.

Make sure there is a clear benefit for students who are on time by getting started on time and beginning with important, relevant material. Don’t waste the first few minutes of class; this only encourages lateness!

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