Individual Meetings With Students

Checking in

My class reached the halfway point this week. One of the things that I had planned was to have individual meetings with my students. This is a luxury of having a smaller class.

Basically, I built a week into the course schedule where I didn't add any new material. I had no idea about how quickly or slowly the couse was going to go at the beginning. So I added a week of flex at the half way point. It was there to allow me to catch up if I needed to, to give students a week to catch their breath, and to assess how they are doing.

This was really smart

Since my students are all physics majors, I found it weird that I hadn't met many of them, and if they are going to be around for the next four years, I felt like I should have at least one conversation with them.

I learned a bit about each of them, how they are handling quarantine, how they are adjusting to the pace and format of the class, and what they understood about the grades and grading system.

Some of the things that I heard were that while the course was going ok, it also is a big difference for them. One student said, it is fine, but “I miss going to breakfast after class with the other students.” The need for connection was poigniant. A study of Drexel students revealed recently that students expect to pay substantially less for online classes. While this is problematic if you are a university administrator, the converse of this is that students value the interpersonal connection between student/faculty and student/student.

Other things included that they weren't looking at the gradebook (more on this later), and that they appreciated the opportunity to ask `little’ questions (e.g. “How much explanation is enough?", “How do I see the comments on the homework?").

Finally, I was able to encourage all of them to take the opportunity to resubmit homework for regrades. And as the week rolls on, I keep getting re-submissions.

Plus it was a week away from grading, a week where I could catch my breath.

So on to the second half!

Eric Brewe
Professor of Physics and Science Education

Physics Education Researcher