Fostering student accountability and preparation

Active learning

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Ways of fostering student accountability in the classroom during active learning activities.

Student Accountability and Preparation

Research shows that active learning approaches in the classroom and the best way of facilitating deeper learning and greater student engagement. Instructors, however, are often concerned about planning activities that rely on students to come to class prepared with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the prepared activity. Additionally, instructors are often concerned about ensuring students are engaged and participating equally in the group activity.

This document provides some guidance in ways of facilitating student preparation prior to the classroom activity, as well as ways of structuring the classroom activity in ways that promotes student engagement and participation to meet the desired learning outcomes.

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Fink' Castle Top Model

Fink's Castle Top Model

Fink's Castle Top Model

In the book Creating Significant Learning Experiences, L. Dee Fink presents a model of organizing and designing activities in ways that takes advantage of the affordances of the hybrid learning experience. In this model, instructors leverage the following phases of the learning process: 

  • Pre-class activities — Present new information and facilitate the building of knowledge. Prepare students for later activities that encourage deeper learning. Often, pre‑class activities include some reflection students do that is tied to in‑class activities.
  • In-class activities — Build on foundational knowledge developed in pre‑class activities. May address misunderstandings, questions, or reflections that took place before class.
  • Post-class activities — Facilitate reflection, application, evaluation, and/or synthesis of learning that has already taken place.

As you try to identify was of fostering student preparation and accountability, ask the following questions about each of the three phases of the learning process. 

Pre-class activities

  • What outcomes are your current activities facilitating? Are they sufficient to succeed in the in-class activity?
  • How do you know whether students are completing pre-class activities? Are there ways you can tell?
  • How do students know whether they understood the information presented in the pre-class activities? How will you know?
  • How will you know whether the activities you planned are aimed at the appropriate student learning gaps? 
  • When are the pre-class activities due? Does this provide you enough time to make any necessary changes to address student learning gaps?

In-class activities

  • How can you structure activities in ways that provides each student the opportunity/responsibility to share and demonstrate their knowledge while also contributing to the group outcome?
  • How can activities be structured to reveal student participation in group outcomes to you?
  • What ways can you structure reporting of group outcomes in ways that encourage accountability of each group while also not taking up too much time?
  • What ways can you capture group outcomes in ways that help you reflect on students' challenges, misperceptions, and successes while also reducing time spent evaluating the results?
  • After the activity is completed, can you ask students what helped or hindered their success?

Post-class activities

  • What kinds of post-class activities can you develop that builds on the group activity in ways that students can demonstrate growth, as well as participation?
  • Are they ways you can improve this activity to improve accountability?