First Four Weeks* - Faculty

Directions:  Student engagement within the first four weeks of any semester is crucial to student success. To support student engagement at Cameron University, please select at least 3 strategies from the following list to carry out in your classes. Consider choosing strategies from different categories to engage students on multiple levels. Challenge yourself. Some items may seem easy or may be strategies you are already using. If that’s the case, pick at least one item that’s a stretch for you. Later in the semester, we’ll check in with you to see what you tried and if it worked for you.


Build and Encourage Relationships

  1. Learn your students’ names and something else interesting about them.
  2. Ask students to write about any challenges they may have (child care, transportation, working a lot of hours, no computer at home) and whether or not they feel these challenges are interfering with their ability to learn in your class. Do they need help with these challenges? Refer them accordingly.
  3. Express to your students that you respect them and want all of them to succeed.
  4. At the beginning of each class for the first few weeks, welcome your students and include the name of the course and your name in your greeting or on the blackboard.  Remind students about your office hours and encourage them to contact you.
  5. Ask students to share why they are in college as well as why they are taking your course.
  6. Share something about yourself and your passion for your course content.
  7. Contact any student who misses class.


Raise Expectations

  1. Explain the context or “big picture” of your course. Briefly describe the topics that will be covered. Explain how this course is relevant in students’ academic, professional, and personal lives.
  2. Let students know what they need to do to be successful in YOUR course.
  3. Demonstrate how previously successful students have taken notes in your class. Early on, assign an exercise to help students with the note taking strategies that will help them succeed in your course. For example, one exercise might be to find those students who take excellent notes and pair them up with those students who need to learn more about note taking.
  4. Model what you expect from students. (Start and finish class on schedule, be prepared for class, be responsive, be truthful, respectful, fair and available, etc.) Model quality.
  5. Engage the class in an academic vocabulary discussion. What constitutes missing class? When is a homework assignment late?

Promote Active, Engaged Learning

  1. Engage students in at least one active learning strategy (like small group work, clickers, case studies, or service learning).
  2. Get students actively involved in the content of the syllabus. Consider a syllabus quiz or small group discussion.
  3. Perform at least one spot-check assessment (like a minute paper or muddiest point writing).
  4. Honor the prior experience of the students. Mine their previous knowledge by discussing a discipline-related topic about which students will already have opinions/knowledge.
  5. Use the IDEA Feedback Tool, if available, in your class to get information on how students’ responded to material presented in class that day.


Integrate Student Support into Learning Experiences

  1. Create an exercise that connects students to student resources (like the library, the Wellness Center, Career Services, or Campus Life) and/or to the campus Tutoring Centers.
  2. Create an assignment that requires students to log into Blackboard, update their contact information in Banner, or email you using their account.

Ensure that Students Know Where They Stand (Feedback)

  1. Clearly communicate your course grading policy.
  2. Discuss with students their progress in the first couple of weeks and what they need to do to be successful in your course. Direct them to available student resources that can support their academic success.
  3. Provide students with your preferred mode(s) of communication as well as the amount of time it will take before a student can expect to hear back from you.
  4. Create rubrics that clearly define grading criteria for each assignment and provide these to your students when giving the assignment.
  5. In the first two weeks, have students complete a short in-class writing assignment or class quiz worth very few (or no) points. Grade and return this assignment by the next class. Consider including helpful suggestions as to how to improve performance

*Adapted from SLCC First Four Weeks Strategies

Download a printable copy of these strategies.

Student with volleyball