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Lesson 1: Suggestions for Ending A Course

"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings." -Carl Jung

  1. Review the syllabus as a way to review concepts covered in the course.
  2. If students set goals at onset of class, have them revisit these goals and share in dyads or small groups how well they accomplished their goals, how they did so, and the outcome. Or, they can write their observations to you in a letter or email.
  3. Share what you learned about teaching and/or the subject matter with your students.
  4. Provide self-addressed envelopes and ask students to write you a letter in a few months telling you one or more things they learned and actually used. Or, send your students an email few months after the class has ended asking them to share one or two things they have applied.
  5. Ask students to write a letter to someone who will take the course, describing strategies that were worthwhile, those that caused problems and give advice on how best to succeed in the course. (Share their advice with subsequent classes. Or randomly give these letters to participants of the next class.) Students tend to hear advice from each other better than from the instructor.
  6. Ask students to bring to class magazines they are willing to cut up, scissors and glue. In groups, have them create a collage that depicts the main ideas covered in the course. Have each group explain their collage to the large group.
  7. Ask students to write a self-evaluation and have the students reflect on their performance and behavior in the class. Reassure students that this will not count towards their grade, however it is required to complete the class. Questions to ask might include the following:
    • How has your approach to the subject matter changed during this course?
    • How do you feel you have performed in this class?
    • What would you do differently if you had a chance to do this all over again?
    • What advice would you give a best friend if they had to take this course to help him/her do well?
    • How has this course helped you develop as an emerging professional?
    • What strategies, activities, assignments, etc., best fit your learning style and helped you learn the most?
  8. Have the students pretend that the class was a movie. Have each student (or in small groups) title the movie and write a review.
  9. Use a game such as Jeopardy or Hollywood Squares to review for the final exam.
  10. Provide them with a scenario such as the following: "Your best friend has approached you and states that she has to take this course. She can't take the class from anyone else and she needs the class to graduate. What advice will you give your friend to help her succeed in this class?" (For more inf. on this see Cooperative Learning and College Teaching, 6.1 (1995): 11-13. Print.)
  11. In a physiology course (or other applicable course), a week or so ahead of the last class, have groups of students randomly pick out of a hat or box, slips of paper with different organ systems. On the last day, have them perform a skit using any props they wish which represent their organ system and have the other students try to guess what organ system they are portraying. Or, have the students make a game of "physiology pictionary."
  12. On the first day, pose a question such as "What is philosophy?" Give the students approxiamtely five to ten minutes to answer the question in writing. Provide them with an envelop and ask them to put their response in the envelop, seal it and write their name on the outside. On the last day of class, ask the same question and provide time to write their answer again. Hand them back their original response and have them compare, in groups, what they had learned and how their views changed during the semester.
  13. Have each student write a letter to you. Provide questions for them to answer in the letter. Respond in-kind with "a letter to the class" telling them what you learned from their letters.
  14. Have students call out topics covered in the class and list these on the board while the students also write them down. Have students discuss with a partner what the most personally valuable topics were for them and why. If time allows, have pairs join other pairs and share their responses. Students can also share with the large group their most valuable discoveries/rediscoveries and what changes they would recommend for improving the course.


"How to End Courses With a Bang" 1995. The Teaching Professor, Vol.9, No. 5

From Better Endings: "What to Do on the Last Day of Class"

Lessons: Index, 1

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