First_Day_of_Class.pdf - College faculty insider’s guide...

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College faculty insider’s guide to the first day of class Dave Ferreira “The first class meeting of any course is more important than many faculty realize. It sets the tone for what is to follow and can greatly influence students’ opinions about the course and the instructor for the remainder of the semester” (Perlman & McCann, 1999, p. 277). Introduction The first day of class is one of the most crucial classes you will have during the semester. This class can also be the most challenging. Some instructors use an icebreaker and briefly go over the syllabus before dismissing their students 30 minutes early. Others feel the need to cover everything to the point where students are overloaded with information. A research study by Perlman and McCann (1999) found both approaches to be counterproductive. Students do not have high expectations for the first day of class. This is due in part to previous classes that ended early and a student’s desire to use the first week of classes to “shop” for the right set of courses. They want to know what is in the syllabus, how much work to expect, and what the instructor’s policies on attendance are. The first day of class is the time to introduce the course, gain the students’ interest, and start the semester on a positive note. This guide is mean to help faculty in establishing goals for the first day of class and strategies to meet these goals. A sample lesson plan for a 50 minute class is provided and can be replicated as needed. Goal 1 – Foster instructor-student rapport Research on the first day of class by Knefelkamp (1985) showed there was a desire from students and teachers for connectedness, but neither group realized the other shared that desire. Planning some specific activities not only reduces the anxiety of meeting strangers, but can get students to share in the sense of purpose you hold for the class. One activity that has been shown to foster instructor-student rapport is a group activity that allows the student to interview the instructor (Hermann & Foster, 2011). This activity gives students an opportunity to think about what is important to themselves and their peers. It also creates an environment where meaningful questions about the course are not only wanted but expected.
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