Marva Barnett, TRC Director and Department of French
How courses begin and end can have a powerful impact on students. Introductions and conclusions offer special opportunities to engage students with the subject matter and course materials and to inspire them to learn as much as possible during the course and beyond. Since many U.Va. colleagues have given a good deal of thought to effective starts and finishes, we chose "course beginnings and endings" as the theme of this Teaching Concerns issue. The following three approaches provoke students to consider how a course relates to their interests and help students see at the end how much they have progressed in knowledge and understanding.
At the request of a TRC colleague, Cassandra Fraser agreed to describe how she focuses students' attention on their own course goals and keeps the spotlight there by relating students' course comments and evaluations to their individual goals. Also in response to TRC staff interest, Lisa Reilly highlights the importance of asking questions and helps students see, through the quality of their questions and answers at the end of the course, how much they have learned. Finally, inspired by Cassandra's and Lisa's experiences, I adapted Ted Panitz's "letter to the students" to focus on goals; as my students revisit their goals on the last day of class, they offer thoughtful suggestions for improvements.
these strategies that have proven successful for colleagues at U.Va.,
we encourage you to try them, to adapt them, to share with us your own