Question of the day: What do you do on the last day of class?

Here’s a question (or a set of related questions) that should be particularly relevant for all of us at this point in the semester:

What do you do on the last day of class? What do you do during the mandatory exam period? Is there anything you have tried that has worked particularly well (or gone really poorly)?

Inquiring minds want to know. Please comment below.

5 thoughts on “Question of the day: What do you do on the last day of class?

  1. I use the time to solicit the students’ opinions on what was most useful to them in improving their writing, asking questions that the college’s surveys don’t cover and that they weren’t likely to have touched on in their Reflection.

    To that end, I distribute a questionnaire, pair them up, and have them interview each other, with the answers anonymous. They rate what specific lessons and activities were most/least helpful on a scale of 1 to 5, weigh in on which units of study were most interesting, what they’d do differently if they knew then what they know now, how they assess the intellectual challenge of the course, etc. Then they swap papers with their interviewer and add to or otherwise modify their own answers. Finally, we have a general discussion, though I don’t call on anyone, making the point that their feelings and evaluations can remain anonymous if they’d like. I usually get a hearty response.

    I’m thinking of adding something new this year. I’d have them write a personal letter of advice, anonymously, to an incoming 105 student: how did you feel about writing when you began as a first-semester freshman, what obstacles did you face, and how did you overcome them (if you feel you did)? I’d distribute the letters at the start of another semester and use them as the kick-off for a discussion about the course to come, about students’ fears and other feelings on writing.

    • I love your letters to the next 105 class idea!!! I also have used my own survey in of the class in the past. I ask things similar to what you said, and also what readings they liked best, and why, which they like least and why, etc. They fill them out anonymously, but I do encourage discussion –often times this helps them remember and reflect on readings and activities during the class.

      (Also, this is sort of cheesy, but i once made a crossword puzzle out of authors, titles, concepts, strategies, etc–I wouldn’t base a whole class on this, but they did them in groups for about 20 minutes and did seem to enjoy the activity.)

  2. During final exams, I have all my classes do some type of presentation. On the last day of class, I give them a reflection exercise. The reflection asks them about their personal experience with the course, their opinions about the course, and how they have done throughout the year.

  3. For the last two semesters, what I have done is a fairly free-wheeling evaluation of the class, which resembles some of the things people have already mentioned. I ask students to make a list of the following:

    3 things that worked for the class and I should repeat
    2 things that didn’t work and/or can be improved (with short explanations)
    1 particularly memorable thing about the class (however random it might be)
    2 pieces of advice to students taking the course with me in future

    After they have made their lists (which I say can be anonymous, but almost all students choose to put their names on it), I go around the class asking them to share any one item on their list. We talk about what is mentioned, other students provide their thoughts about it, etc.

    I generally find the information quite useful and, since it’s happening at the end of the semester and students are very comfortable with me by this point, they tend to be quite honest about what worked and what didn’t. Some students really go above and beyond in the details and information that they provide.

    I do count this as a class day and give students participation points for the activity, which makes them even more invested in providing good written/oral feedback.

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