How to Leverage the Rhythms of the Semester

Attitudes and emotions change throughout the semester, according to research from Mann and colleagues and Duffy & Jones. A recent article in Faculty Focus examines those “rhythms” and provides tips on how faculty can leverage changes to improve their teaching. For example, many faculty and students approach the beginning of the semester with positive attitudes or beliefs about new beginnings. A faculty member during this time can clearly define expectations for the class and talk about what it means to be a learner in the course to build community and trust. By the end of the semester, stress is prevalent among faculty and students as final exams, papers, and projects culminate. Faculty can acknowledge these challenges by discussing productive ways to study and helping students see how much they’ve learned since the beginning of the semester.

“The arc of the semester often catches students off guard, and they’re surprised that faculty not only notice the arc, but we experience it too. Using our understanding of the effects and predictability of the arc, we can help students effectively navigate through the highs and lows of a course,” Linda Shadiow, Ph.D., and Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D., write in the article.