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Although we often expect students to automatically link what they are learning to prior knowledge, they may not do this automatically. Help students activate relevant prior knowledge by highlighting particular lectures, discussions, or readings in relation to material learned previously in the semester.
As a starting point for finding out what prior knowledge students bring to your course, talk to colleagues who teach prerequisite courses or ask to see their syllabi and assignments. This can give you a quick sense of what material is addressed, and in what depth. It can inform you to differences in approach, emphasis, terminology, and help you address potential gaps or discrepancies.
Give students ideas about how to study and prepare for class. Give examples of study strategies and examples of questions they should think about when approaching course material. Estimate how much time they should spend outside of class to study. For more tips visit http://teaching.berkeley.edu
A key factor in student success is the attitude of the instructor. An instructor’s enthusiasm can motivate students. An instructor’s facial expressions, energy, and intonation are as important as what the instructor says. When instructors take time to reflect on the passions they feel for their discipline or profession and they communicate this to others, explicitly and implicitly, they can dramatically improve their teaching effectiveness.
Email can provide a successful avenue of connection and information between students and faculty outside of the class, but can also create expectations and workloads that are unmanageable. To save time, set electronic office hours when you’ll be available live (through chat) or when you will respond to emails. Also, you can create one email by using student questions from individual email questions and generate a class “FAQ” list to post on the course website.
Just as it helps students to see a skilled writer’s rough drafts, it helps them to see a skilled reader’s marked up text, marginal notes, and note taking system. Take a book or article to class full of your notes, underlining's, along with the entries you made in your note system. Explain what you underlined and why. Show them how you distinguished between what the author is saying and your own reflections on the material.
To promote critical thinking in class, provide opportunities for students to relate the material to their life experiences and to evaluate and question what is said, rather than immediately accepting it as truth. When we promote critical thinking skills, we teach students to argue both sides of an issue, compare answers and judge the “best” answer based on evidence.
Summarize major points at the end of class or ask students to do so. Immediately after class, write comments on your class notes about what didn’t seem clear to students. Then use the notes as guides for the revision of content for the next class session or the next time you offer the course.
It can be difficult for experts to recognize how they organize their own knowledge, which makes it difficult to communicate this organization to students. One way to make your knowledge organization apparent is to create a concept map. Concept mapping is a technique that helps instructors understand their knowledge organizations visually. Concept maps are particularly helpful to visual learners.