U-CLaSS: Flexibility in Instruction (Feb 24, 2022)

On February 24, 2022, six Teaching Academy members met with 12 campus students leaders in an event organized by ASM and the Teaching Academy. This list results from the prompt to the students to ‘Reflect on course flexibility practices — what works and what doesn’t?’ For the full list of their responses, see the UCLaSS Feb 24 data summary

What Works:

  • Timely access to recorded lectures, lecture slides, and/or lecture notes.
  • Built-in course flexibility, such as allowing all students a set number of excused absences (without needing to provide documentation or share trauma) or allowing all students to drop a set number of assignments.
  • Multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery (rather than a midterm exam, final exam, and a paper being the only opportunities to demonstrate mastery).
  • Variety in assignments (e.g., modality or materials).
  • Opportunities, scaffolded by the instructor, for students to connect with one another during the course.
  • Remote synchronous office hours (via Zoom, phone call, or other synchronous form of communication) and mechanisms for students to engage with instructors via asynchronous modes of communication (email, text chat, and the like).

What Doesn’t Work:

  • Expecting student to get lecture notes or other information about a missed class session from fellow students rather than the instructor. 
  • Relying solely on teaching assistants for one-to-one student-instructor interaction.
  • Night exams, because they are challenging for students due to their work or family schedules and due to having already completed a full day of classes.
  • Timed exams, time-limited quizzes, and other assessments that cause anxiety, as well as test surveillance software (e.g., Honorlock) that can be biased.
  • Assigning students to use technology that the instructor themselves hasn’t used.
  • Providing disability-related accommodations only when requested by the McBurney Center (and only for students who are registered with McBurney) rather than building accommodations into the course and making accommodations available to all students.