January 7, 2015

Ideas for the first day of class

Posted by Laura Guertin

A handful of us have started our semester already.  For the rest of us, the first day of classes will be here all too soon.  Are you ready for the first day?  Do you have an established practice for how you kick off the first time you meet with students?  Or maybe you are looking for some fresh ideas to start 2015?

If you haven’t already, you should check out the material on the SERC (Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College) website for the First Day of Class.  Here, you will find suggestions on how to engage and motivate students, and how to establish a positive classroom climate.  Do you want to survey your students on prior knowledge or their learning style?  The SERC site has information to help.  And there are 58 examples in the activity database for the First Day of Class – I bet one of those examples could get you and your students excited about starting the semester!

If you are looking for additional ideas, I encourage you to check out the link in the tweet at the top of this post, and another article on the Chronicle Vitae website where one faculty member teachers his last day of class on the first day.  I have also included citations to articles below that explore other models for the first day, including an idea for how to use video on the first day of an online course.

However you decide to start Winter/Spring 2015, best of luck to us all!



Additional sources for exploration

Dinan, F.J. (2006). The Case Study: Opening Day – Getting Started in a Cooperative Classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 35(4): 12-14.

Dulaney, E., & T. States. (2014, June 11). How to make the most of a video introduction for an online course. Campus Technology. Available at: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/06/11/how-to-make-the-most-of-a-video-introduction-for-an-online-course (Article online)

Eves, D.J., & J.T. Redd. (2014). General Chemistry II: Setting the Stage on the First Day With Jeopardy. Journal of College Science Teaching, 43(6): 41-45.

Houston, N. (2014, August 25). From the archives: the first week of the academic term. ProfHacker: The Chronicle of Higher Education Blogs. Accessible at: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/archives-first-week/57949.

Ribbens, E. (2013). Point of View – The First Day. Journal of College Science Teaching, 43(1): 12-13.

Williams, G. (2014, August 13). 5 Things You Can Do To Prepare For The New Semester. ProfHacker: The Chronicle of Higher Education Blogs. Accessible at: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/5-things-you-can-do-to-prepare-for-the-new-semester/57721.

Wilson, J.H., & S.B. Wilson (2007). The first day of class affects student motivation: an experimental study. Teaching of Psychology, 34(4): 226-230. (Abstract online)