Teaching Amidst Class Cancellations

Click here for the February 13, 2015, announcement from Provost Stephen Director on options to make up missed classes.

As the Northeastern University Boston campus community continues to experience repeated cancellations due to winter storms, the learning scientists at the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research hope the following tips will be helpful as you address the stress of meeting educational goals and student needs:

Connect – when you return to class, reestablish connections and a feeling of normalcy through interactive learning and reorienting students to the course’s big picture.

Prioritize – look over the material you’d planned for the semester and—given these extraordinary circumstances—reconsider what content is “must know,” what is “important to know,” and what is “nice to know.”  Revising the course schedule by reprioritizing content can help you and your students still achieve the outcomes. Perhaps certain topics can be shortened or covered by students on their own and assessed by doing exercises, problems or sharing their learning in a discussion via Blackboard. When making such changes, it is important to be explicit with students about what changes you are making.

Plan – present students with a revised plan for achieving the course outcomes that takes into consideration the limitations that the weather has placed on the course.  Whatever you decide to do, put your revisions in writing and distribute the revised plan to your students as quickly as you can. This approach may give the students a sense of comfort and security that you have realigned the course and will not just jam everything into the remaining time.

Accommodate – consider that students might not have the same access to the university or to other resources necessary to complete revised assignments or achieve course requirements during interruptions.

Consider Alternative Methods of Instruction – introduce micro-lectures online to free up class time for targeted learning activities. Lectures can be recorded or classes can be convened synchronously or asynchronously (http://www.ats.neu.edu/how-to-podcast-using-blackboard/).  For more information about ways in which to utilize technology to put some course material online, please visit: http://www.ats.neu.edu/teaching-technology/.  Additionally, you can facilitate discussions on material that students engage with through online discussions.

Connect with a Learning Scientist – Set up a consultation with a learning scientist at the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research to discuss any of the tips above within the context of your own courses.  Learning scientists can suggest efficient and effective approaches to reorganizing your course to ensure that you are able to achieve all of the course outcomes that you had established.

To set up a meeting with a learning scientist at the Center, please email us at learningresearch@neu.edu.