After the lecture – follow up in different ways
In order to get a good flow in a course where there is a lot of online content mixed with lectures or exercises in the lecture hall, you also need to follow up with the students after a learning activity is completed. As teachers, we often think of feedback as something we give on completed assignments, but we can also follow up on other teaching activities.
What we want is to help the student focus on the intended learning outcomes of the course and therefore on the most central parts of the material. As a student, it is difficult to have the intended learning outcomes in mind, and what sticks from a lecture is often a little more random than that. So, having an online follow-up (or continuation) of the in-class session could give us an opportunity to guide the students further in the course material and steer the students’ focus towards the intended learning outcomes.
Encouraging continued work on the course material
Questions for review is commonly used to encourage students to work with the course material, and we often give these questions to the students already when reading the literature. By asking the students to think about the content of the different course modules, we can get them to focus on the most central parts of the course. It doesn't have to be more difficult than a few questions like "Can you now account for A, B and C in your own words?" or "Can you account for the differences between A and B?".
When the course module is mainly about learning facts, a possible follow-up measure could be a short quiz that helps the student see how well they remember the content (see Millican, Mates & Hanon, p. 14). Such a quiz should be relatively simple, meaning not having too many questions and preferably consisting of well-constructed multiple choice-questions. This makes the quiz fast to complete for the students and therefore it is more likely that the quiz actually will be taken. Most importantly, the questions on the quiz should be related to the learning outcomes on the course so that the quiz helps the students in the learning process. The quiz function in Canvas provides the opportunity to show the right answers and at the same time give a comment to that answer. That comment function can be used to help the students find and repeat the course material that is related to the question.
Mentors offer follow-up
Study mentors (SI mentors) are older students that can discuss the course content with those who are now taking the course. This is another way for students to work with the material. A mentor is here a conversation partner who can lead discussions about the course content, and is not an additional teacher (see Millican, Mates & Hanon, p. 16). By offering students a wide range of different possibilities to follow up on the teaching provided, we can reach different types of students, and the mentors are an important part of that work.
Continued reading as a follow-up
Follow-up measures do not have to point only to the intended learning outcomes and the upcoming exam, it can be just as important to point out further readings to show the students possible in-depth studies of the topic. Commented literature lists with further readings and recommendations for other courses related to the same field are also valuable and can show the student how this particular course fits into the entire education. As teachers, we often have a good overview, but the students usually don’t have that. So, a simple comment from the teacher of the type "we will return to AA in semester three" is a help for the students to build up their own map of the education and the subject.
The exam as a follow-up to teaching
The last and most powerful measure used to follow up on the learning activities is the exam. This is where we really point out what we consider to be the most central parts of the course. The exam should, of course, be based on the course's intended learning outcomes, but you can think about how to implement it. For some courses, a summative final exam is most appropriate, for others, a more continuous and formative examination form is a better solution. Many courses mix different kinds of assessment tools so that some tasks should be reported orally and others in writing. There is no best practice here, but you need to carefully consider the format for assessment so that it, in the best possible manner, guides the student towards the learning outcomes, both in terms of knowledge and skills.
Feedback on the exam
The last feedback we give on a course is often feedback on the examination. Canvas gives us many tools to provide feedback, with scores and grades in the grade book, with written comments in submitted assignments and/or with recorded video feedback. Educational research (see Belt & Lowenthal, p. 425) suggests that video feedback on examination has the benefits of direct feedback through conversation, but in a persistent and asynchronous form. So, video feedback is perceived as being more engaged and personal than written feedback and can be given and received in a more flexible way than at a scheduled appointment. On the other hand, at a scheduled meeting you can exchange thoughts, but in most contexts this is an all too time-consuming method.
Belt, Eric S., and Patrick R. Lowenthal. 2021. "Video Use in Online and Blended Courses: A Qualitative Synthesis." Distance Education 42 (3): 410-40.
Link to full text here.
Mates, Lewis, Adrian Millican, and Erin Hanson. 2021. "Coping with Covid; Understanding and Mitigating Disadvantages Experienced by First Generation Scholars Studying Online." British Journal of Educational Studies, September, 1-22.
Link to full text here.