End of Semester — A Time for Reflection and Growth

By Dr. Erin Bell, Assistant Director of Educational Development

There is much to accomplish at the end of the semester. Instructors are moving through grading examinations and other assessments, bringing closure to course outcomes, and inputting final grades, but this time can also be a period centered on reflection and growth. As we close out one semester and move into the next (or perhaps, a summer break), instructors can reflect upon the work that has occurred throughout the semester and think through how they may revise assignments, sequences, and content by engaging in a continuous cycle of reflection, feedback, and continuous learning. The following list provides some ideas to effectively utilize the time at the end of the semester to prepare for the next teaching assignments. 

Reflect on the Semester: Instructors can reflect on their teaching methods, course content, and student engagement over the semester. They can consider what worked well and what did not and reflect on how effectively students met learning objectives and how they met the needs of their students. This is the perfect time to tweak the nuances of an assignment or sequence, revise reading lists, and more.

Breaks between semesters are an excellent time to book a course evaluation with the CETL. Our team can provide insights about the strengths of a course as well as ideas about improvement or how to utilize supported technology for a more effective course. 

Collect and Analyze Feedback: Gathering feedback from students can provide valuable insights into what students understood and where improvements can be made. In addition to reviewing data from the Student Reflections on Learning provided via the institution, professors can conduct their own, informal end-of-semester surveys or hold one-on-one meetings with students to get more in-depth feedback about student perceptions of the course flow.

Review Course Materials and Content: During the periods between semesters, instructors can examine course syllabi, readings, and materials to ensure they are up-to-date and relevant. They should consider revising content to improve clarity, incorporate new developments in the field, or address and consider global current events.

Set Professional Development Goals: Additionally, the summer months are an excellent time for educators to identify areas where they want to grow and to set specific goals for their professional development. This might include learning new teaching techniques, attending workshops or conferences, or seeking mentorship. The NCFDD has numerous resources for professors at the University of Detroit Mercy to review and pursue.

Experiment with New Teaching Methods: As instructors map out their teaching plans, they can consider trying new teaching methods or technologies in their classes to keep things fresh and engage students in different ways.

Prioritize Self-Care: Teaching is demanding, so it is important for professors to prioritize self-care and well-being. Take advantage of the summer months to pursue hobbies and relaxing activities. A healthy and balanced professor is more effective in the classroom.

By implementing such practices, instructors can utilize the time between semesters to continuously improve their teaching methods and create a more engaging and effective learning environment for their students.