1. What are some tried and true ways of increasing student attendance?
The best way to increase attendance is for students to see that there are benefits to coming to class. Give points for class participation and/or regular short quizzes to test preparation for class. These approaches need to be appropriate for the learning goals and class size. A lecture that expands upon the textbook, activities that engage the students in the curriculum, and a focused plan where students clearly understand what each class period will deliver are ways to create a classroom environment where students want to attend.
2. Can I institute a mandatory class attendance policy in my class?
Yes, this is within your authority. However, it needs to be clearly specified in the syllabus.
3. What is the generally agreed upon guideline for the amount of time that students should expect to devote to each of their classes (outside of class time)?
Typically it is two hours of study time per credit (6 hours for a 3 credit class) for students who are dedicated to learning the material and performing well. This will be more in some weeks and less in others.
4. Can I forbid the use of cell phones and non-class use of personal computers during class time? What are effective ways of enforcing this policy?
Yes, you can have such a policy which is generally motivated by respect for fellow students. Enforcement has to be on a case-by-case basis, but consistently asking offenders to cease the activity will reinforce the policy to the entire class.
5. How can I find out if students understand the material before a formal quiz or exam? Are there different types of real-time, in-class assessments that have worked for other faculty?
It is very useful to have in-class assessments. It helps student see whether they understand the lectures and it helps the faculty understand where there are gaps in knowledge. There are a number of simple, in-class assessment techniques. The best source is Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross (ISBN-13: 978-1555425005). The Academic Affairs office has a few copies that can be checked out to faculty.
6. Are there campus resources for working in teams?
WSU Vancouver’s College of Business has a team project policy and students learn how to work in teams in their introductory management class. That protocol is used in each team project assigned in the business school. This lengthy excerpt from the WSU Vancouver College of Business manual provides useful guidance regarding when to use group projects, how to assign students to groups, and how to develop team skills:
Use of groups according to the WSU Vancouver College of Business:
Please see full policy detailed in “Instructor’s Guide to Developing Team Skills” available through the WSU Vancouver Business Department (firstname.lastname@example.org). Note: the highlights of the policy include:
- Every instructor must have a sound pedagogical reason for putting students into group/team projects.
- Students may not be put into groups to reduce grading load or simply because “more team experience is always good for them.”
- Know that any student has the right to work alone on an assigned group/team project, except if the specific learning goal(s) creates the need for mandatory group work (e.g., the class Accounting and Culture has mandatory teams to support the learning outcome of working with individuals of diverse backgrounds and Management 301 has as one of its primary learning goals, “the teaching of successful team performance”). However, in a course where a student has an option to work alone, any student who works alone cannot have a reduced project scope or be graded more leniently.
- Students must be allowed some in-class time to work in their groups. During such times, both students and instructor must be present (otherwise, it’s not an official “contact hour”). Thus, class cannot be cancelled for team time, the instructor must be there to interact with the teams, and class attendance policies should be applied to any students who are not there.
7. Can/should I prohibit certain internet sites as sources for student research papers?
One of the goals of educating students in the information age is to teach them how to discriminate regarding the source and value of knowledge/information. Some classes, particularly those that emphasize academic research skills, may wish to teach students about the process of peer review and instruct them in the use of library databases appropriate for specific kinds of knowledge. Therefore, it may be appropriate to prohibit students from using public internet sources for particular assignments or across-the-board in a particular class and to state this policy clearly in the class syllabus.