35 Make Them Accountable, but Do It Kindly

A photo of Catherine Ross
Figure 35.1: Catherine Ross

Catherine Ross

Students have to be ready for the work of learning, and they have to be held accountable. In most cases, to be successful at a university, students need four things: they need to know the purpose or usefulness of their studies, they need to have time to do the work, they need to know how to do that work, and they need to do it. How can you help?

University students need to know the purpose or usefulness of their studies, they need to have time to do the work, they need to know how to do that work, and they need to do it.

Finally, hold them accountable every day. Build a series of brief daily quizzes into your course grading structure. Five straightforward, factual questions each day are all you need.First, take the time to explain why your course is important; students don’t always see the big picture. Do this more than once, and do it with excitement. Second, give them a reasonable amount of time to do their assignments; remember that they have three or four other classes, probably a job, and maybe a family. Third, be sure to model the reading, thinking, and problem-solving skills you expect them to use to complete their assignments. Don’t assume they already know how to do these things. (If you have Blackboard available, you can set up a practice quiz or a set of study questions for each assignment so that students can check their progress while they are doing their work.)

Once students get used to this process (and get over being resentful of the daily quizzes), they will begin to develop self-discipline, to experience the relief of being ready for class, and to know the pleasure of having something worthwhile to add to the discussion.

A photo of UT Arlington campus with overlayed text reading, "Go beyond what your students expect of you."
Figure 35.2: UT Arlington
A photo of Kevin Cokley
Figure 35.3: Kevin Cokley

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The Little Orange Book by The University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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