Teaching Tip: Last Day of Classes
No matter how tired they are, students want courses to conclude, not simply to end. After all, a conclusion is key to making sense of the whole. One of our favorite composition textbooks, Writing Analytically, teaches that a good conclusion makes three “moves.” The advice is good for instruction, too.
A good conclusion:
1. comes full circle. It does not so much return to the start as find the beginning reflected in the end. We might revisit the course’s original goals, asking students to reflect and to write briefly about their experiences in light of these goals.
2. pursues implications. Review is essential, but we also want students to see their educations as ever-growing, rather than fixed. Where might this course continue to lead, if we’re willing to follow? We might ask students to connect something from the course to something happening in their lives or in the world at large.
3. identifies limitations. There’s no better way to see the ever-unfinished quality of learning. It might be good to discuss briefly topics we have excluded and to explain why we did so. It’s a good test for our students to name something else we might have covered that they would like to pursue on their own.
Two links: first, the textbook we drew from: http://www.google.com/search?q=9780495910084&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1 ; second, a link to UC Berkeley’s terrific advice for last classes: http://teaching.berkeley.edu/lastdayofclass.html