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Tip: Course Facilitation Thoughts
If instructor presence is who you are in the classroom, then facilitation is how this is expressed in your practices and policies.
Note: This Tips comes to you a day late as I was celebrating Eid al-Adha with family.
So far this summer series has considered learning outcomes, assessments, learning activities/course materials, overall course structure, and instructor presence. The final component that I’m thinking about is facilitation: communication practices, student participation, grading policies, and providing feedback to students. If instructor presence is who you are in the classroom - your instructor persona - then facilitation is how this is expressed in your practices and policies. Making decisions about practices and policies, like instructor persona, is so personal.
So, turning to the final step in the course (re) design summer series…
I think course facilitation is about the “soft” aspects - not the assignments and assessments, which we’ve already designed if you have followed the backwards design process, but how you think about your communication practices as encouraging or discouraging students, what your participation policies tell students about what you value in the course, and how grading and feedback practices can be helpful and manageable for you and for students.
Setting the tone for your class - tips (like using a seating chart to help you remember student names) can easily be adapted for online/hybrid classes.
Communicating via creative syllabi
Staying in Touch with “high touch” practices that are particularly helpful for community college students
Encouraging online engagement will continue to be important through this second pandemic year
Connecting participation to retention on an institution level
Connecting students to campus activities and support services supports their learning and sense of belonging
Adopting new grading schemes to better communicate what you value in your course
Setting up low-stakes assignments to provide encouragement & frequent feedback
Giving supportive “wise” feedback
Providing feedback in performance-based courses
Thinking about transfer-of-learning when giving feedback
For more reading: What Makes an Excellent Professor suggests four categories of behavior for instructors, while How Should a Professor Be offers twenty-two suggestions for new and experienced instructors.
The best professors treat students like people, not numbers; they go beyond their call of duty in terms of helping students and holding office hours; they not only know their material, but they also know how to teach it well. They understand the student and concerns the class may have.
What comes next?
I’ll be attending a research seminar (virtually) over the next two weeks, and will take a brief break from publishing Tips. I’ll return on August 10th with some ideas for ramping up to fall teaching…