The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning has previously done research in Organizing Your Course to Facilitate Student Learning. In the article, analysis is shared of Yale’s Course Evaluations, revealing high ratings for a course’s “organization to facilitate learning” as a strong predictor of high overall course ratings. In addition to the structure of materials in a course, the Poorvu Center’s Educational Technology team found through analysis of survey data collected through Canvas that much of the heavy lifting in building a successful and organized learning environment is through clear, consistent and concise communication.
It is crucial for instructors to stay in touch with their students during any course. Faculty members have a wide range of synchronous and asynchronous tools for communication at their disposal. Utilizing said tools and opening space for dialogue on concepts stimulates critical thinking, encourages high quality resources and centers belonging and inclusion. In action, communication can look different based on the needs and desires of the course and class community. However, common practices include transparency. Instructors are often sure to begin practices by discussing preferred methods of communication with students and where to look for course-related information as well as how to get in touch if they have any questions. For consistency of practices, instructors reiterate preferences and remind students by including this information in the syllabus and making announcements in class.
In his large lecture of sometimes upwards of 500 students, Assistant Professor of Economics, Cormac O’Dea, does just that. Through low stakes polls, announcements and providing “pre-notes” ahead of lectures, Professor O’Dea’s students have found great value and purpose in participation and community. Listen along to our brief interview on how he upholds communication and organization strategies in his Introduction to Microeconomics course.