Home » 2021 Spring » What strategies have been most successful in your STEM courses over the past year?

What strategies have been most successful in your STEM courses over the past year?

In our first meeting this semester, participants responded to the following questions. Their answers appear below. The intention was to share ideas about success strategies that have worked well in our STEM classrooms during the past year.

What are the top three things you do that contribute to student success?

• Teach a concept, then give an example, have the students practice, and check their work
• Use an “exit question”/poll at the end of class – is your answer right, and how did you get it?
• Use scaffolding with feedback week by week
• Do research (including hypothesis development and testing) as part of class activities – especially preps the students to get internships (ex. REUs).
• Have students “do math” as part of their learning at every opportunity (including using Excel to organize and analyze data)
• Post a “postmortem” for each exam (video, power point, or written doc)
• Ask students, “How do you know if you’re doing well in the course?”
• Manage student expectations – anticipated time spent on each course activity (including outside of class), how to take notes, how to study for specific courses, etc.
• Provide students with multiple “early warnings” before WN, and offer help
• Have students search scholarly databases to find and then read / interpret primary literature
• Involve students in large-scale citizen science (e.g., using iNaturalist) to help them experience how data are gathered and how science is done

What are the top three things students can do to succeed?

• Read assignments before class
• Ask the instructor for help
• Get to know the professor (office hours)
• Talk to successful classmates and find out how they study

How do we decide which strategies to prioritize?

• Professional development, student research, live interactions, course design, assignments/assessments, creation, etc.—there are so many, and we can’t do all of them every semester.
• Choice of strategies depends on course outcomes, program level, etc. For example, research in class may not be prioritized in a nonmajors course, but probably should be in an upper division majors course.
• Some strategies should always be employed in any course—such as managing student expectations and identifying students who need help early on

What would you like to discuss/read this semester?

• Assigned readings can feel overwhelming for a FIG
• Instead, focus on questions that faculty can respond to and share experiences / ideas
• Share a challenge or success from the current class

With respect to the above, for the next meeting, Kristin will send out a Google Form asking participants to identify a challenge and a success from the previous week for the group to discuss.

Next meeting time TBA (probably in one month—third week of April).


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