Two Ways to Improve Course Quality in Five Minutes or Less
If you’re looking for a quick way to improve your course quality, here are two (often overlooked) items you can incorporate in five minutes or less.
Communicate Pre-Requisite Information
Your students need to know your course prerequisites, even if there are no pre-requisites.
Quality Matters Standard 1.5: Prerequisite knowledge in the discipline and/or any required competencies are clearly stated.
Providing this information allows students to fully understand whether they are ready for the course, and prevents them from searching to determine whether they are eligible for the course. (Yes, some students are really that savvy!)
To capture this quality element, all you need is a short statement below the course description in your syllabus. Here’s an example:
Pre-Requisites for this course: There are no official pre-requisites required for this course.
It almost seems too simple, right? Although a seemly small change, this information impacts the quality of your course because of the valuable information it provides students.
Share Your Feedback Time Frame
Another element often left out of a course is information stating when students can expect to receive grading feedback from the instructor.
Quality Matters Standard 5.3: The instructor’s plan for classroom response time and feedback on assignments is clearly stated.
Sharing your feedback time frame is vital for students in the online environment (especially adult learners) because it can greatly reduce their anxiety—it also reduces the number of emails piling up in your mailbox.
Typically, the feedback time frame is placed with other information regarding assignments and grading scale, like the syllabus. Here’s an example:
Grading Feedback: Normally, you should receive feedback on your written assignments within one week of the due date for the assignment. I do my best to get grading done promptly, but if for some reason it appears that I will not be able to return grades within that time period, I will post an announcement to let you know when to expect them.
Be sure that the time frame you post is realistic for the subject you teach and fits in with any departmental or university guidelines.
What other quick tips do you recommend faculty incorporate in their course? Share with us in the comments section below!