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How to help your students come to class prepared

Class is much more engaging and interesting for both students and instructors when students take the time to prepare outside of class. Last week, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning held a seminar for faculty to discuss how to motivate their students to prioritize their academic work and come to class prepared. Here are some helpful techniques that were discussed:

Create expectations. Katie King, associate professor of psychology, believes that instructors can create a classroom culture that encourages students to do their work outside of class and participate actively in class. “In small discussion-based classes or in larger classes when students are working in groups to accomplish a task, it can be awkward for a student to be unprepared,” King says. “Group grades or opportunities to evaluate the degree of responsibility taken by other group members can heighten the social pressure to come prepared.”

Show that you care about their participation. While many instructors use attendance policies to motivate students to come to class, simply showing up isn’t enough. Cindy Conn, assistant professor of management, gives her students a participation score she calls CCL, or Contributing to Class Learning, to show her students that their participation is crucial to everyone in class.

Put students in your shoes. King has had her students help redesign her class so they can see what she does firsthand. “Students are more likely to prepare for class when they see how hard we work,” she says. If students understand the thought their professors put in, they’re more likely to put effort in outside of class as well.

Enthusiasm doesn’t go unnoticed. “Never underestimate the power of your own enthusiasm,” says L.D. Russell, a religious studies professor. Showing your passion for the subject you teach or going out of your way to help students will help them genuinely want to engage in your class.

To learn more about upcoming events, visit the teaching and learning website here.


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