October 17, 2017 - Olivia Mode-Cater
Dance ED Tip #15:
Let college students know where they stand mid-semester
For K-12 educators doing a mid-marking period report isn’t anything new, but for college professors this isn’t always required. I've found that in technique classes midterm juries are routine; however, for dance theory classrooms this isn't always the convention. This is something I’ve decided to add to my own higher education teaching practice and have found really builds a sense of trust and accountability in the classroom.
Reasons why this works:
1. Students know where their grade stands and if they are unhappy with their performance they still have time to improve.
Although we give graded assignments back to students, sometimes they don't understand how the points or percentages are dictating where they actually stand academically. Sharing their current standing at the midpoint will be sobering as they realize how the weight of certain assignments is affecting their grade.
2. Students won’t be surprised at the end of the semester why they earned the grade that they did.
Having a midterm check in will forecast their final grade. This is why I have students sign a document confirming that they agree that this is where their grade and absences currently stand. This strategy protects you as a teacher from complaints at the end of the semester. If a students asks why they received a B, for instance, you can reference your midpoint sheet in addition to your other data points.
3. It builds trust in the classroom.
Building trust in the classroom in 14 weeks is a challenging thing; however, communicating effectively with students about information that is sensitive and important is one big step in creating trust. Having this midterm conversation shows that you are willing to discuss their grades and explain where they are doing well and where they need to improve. This shows that you are fair, consistent, and direct.
I challenge you to try Dance ED Tip # 15. It's takes only about 15 minutes to throw all the data into a spreadsheet. I then print out 2 copies: 1 for the students to sign and 1 for me to cutout and hand out to the students. Here is my spreadsheet below for your reference. For obvious reasons, the students' names have been blocked out.