Blog Post

Ten Ways to Save the End of Term--for You and Your Students

Ten Ways to Save the End of Term--for You and Your Students

Please note: I'm bringing this thead over unedited from Twitter for those who aren't on that tool.  The abbreviations etc are for the word count of Twitter. (You might also want to read a prior blog, that has had over 72K downloads that offers one basic bit of advice: "Be human first, prof second." "The Single Most Essential Requirement Designing Fall Online Courses," ) 

(NB: Everyone's anonymous in this thread: they can out themselves! Profs all are "they" pronoun in this thread; "Friend" is because I know all of these people first hand, some only through social media.)



1-Every prof and teacher I know is having a really hard time at end of term. Everyone is overwhelmed. So are our students. So are university staff and administrators (hard to believe, right?) Everyone is working night and day, feeling inefficient, overwhelmed...
2-One way to address this, for those still having classes post-Thanksgiving, is like a friend who told students, if they wished, they could end their term w all the work they'd done pre-Thanskgiving and be done.  About a third of the class took them up on this--mostly the A students did, interestingly.
3-Another friend announced post Thanksgiving that the final exam would be "open everything" and the students could work together if they wished as long as they also submitted a signed "study/crib sheet" along w the final. The prof warned working together might hurt them because it slows.
4-Another friend--genius scholar and prof at an Ivy--had a "PJ day" where they came to class in flannel pjs and students did too. The prof played them a thank you song for their resilience and care on the guitar (the prof's Covid hobby is learning to play guitar). So human, so basic, so humble, so absolutely inspiring.
5-Another friend called off a week of class and held "open collective off hours" in those slots where anyone could ask and talk about anything--the most responsive week they' prof had all term and everyone learned far more than usual and it nourished them all.
6-Another friend told students in advance that they could take the regular final or write questions out and answer them. They recommended students answer during the prescribed exam time so this stayed manageable.
7-Anyone who thinks these make classes "too easy" is thinking in the "sequestered problem solving" mode which makes higher ed ludicrous, a pretense that in everyday life and work we don't search for just about everything and make judgments based on that knowledge.
8-Once you realize this is a ludicrous assumption, and we should be teaching how to learn, how to judge good info from bad, how to take what's out there and turn it into something that addresses the question at hand, college becomes more relevant, meaningful, and less stressful
9-"Sequestered problem solving" is high stakes in that it minimizes the goal of "learning" and maximizes sequestering--cordons learning into: what did you learn in 'this' class, how did you learn to answer 'me,' with 'my' (the prof's) assumptions and knowledge in tact.
10-One-way learning in a closed system (trad higher ed), in pandemic world, where everything is closed off, adds trauma of an archaic high stakes system of judgment and credentialing to what should be the joy, agency, and empowerment of learning. @AnyClassroom @nemersonian
11-Final bonus: if you as prof value learning (not grading, testing, one-way data transmission etc), it's not being "soft" (students learn more!) but is far easier emotionally on students and you too. @AnyClassroom
12- @CUNY we have embarked on a new program "Transformative Learning in the Humanities" that embodies all of these principles. You can follow us on Twitter @TLH_CUNY or on@cunycommons
REFERENCES :  Two meta-studies of benefits of active learning: 

Scott Freeman, Sarah L. Eddy, Miles McDonough, Michelle K. Smith, Nnadozie Okoroafor, Hannah Jordt, and Mary Pat Wenderoth, “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111, no. 23, 2014, pp. 8410-8415,

Theobald, E. J., et al., “Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117, no. 12, 2014, pp. 6476-6483,

1 comment

"I canceled the traditional final project. Class won’t meet the last week,
but instead students have the opportunity to complete any missing work
from the semester revise any assignment for a higher grade. And because
we won’t have zoom meetings, I’ll actually have time to give feedback on
their missing work & revisions. It’s the least stressed my students
& I have felt all semester!"