Teaching changeups as the semester ends

UF professors explain the differences in student engagement and teaching style towards the end of the semester

By Mason Alberts, AlbertsM@Findlay.edu

While some classes enjoy activities or movies at the semester’s end, many college professors must finish up content to prepare for finals. University of Findlay professors Alexander Davis, Aaron Blodgett and Dan Baczkowski give insight on keeping students’ attention at the end of the semester.

Davis, Professor of Communication, currently teaches five different classes. Towards the end of the semester, he describes a few changes made in his teaching approach with his students.

“Pace and flow. I like to start off strong and finish strong,” Davis said. “I like to make sure we hammer as much in per class, so we don’t have to add anything in at the end of the semester.”

Dr. Bazckowski, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, uses different parts of the students’ brain during a lesson, so there can be mental break during class.

“Math is definitely one of the extreme sides of the brain; What we will do is take occasional pauses, maybe reflect on some story or anecdote, but something to get them engaged in a different side of the brain,” Dr. Baczkowski said.

A term often referred to as “senioritis” is seen more by younger students at the college level than those who are going to graduate, according to Dr. Blodgett, Assistant Professor of Mathematics.

“For upperclassmen, it is their major; they are more invested in those classes; more interested in those classes; they need those classes; and you’re older at that point,” Dr. Blodgett said. “You still see some engagement issues, but not as much as you do with underclassmen.”

Professors often notice students “phasing out” of school towards the end of the semester.

“When you look out and people are on their phones and laptops rather than taking notes, you know you’re losing their attention,” Dr. Blodgett said. “Attendance also tends to drop later in the semester.”

However, this isn’t the case for all students. Some students become more alert and comfortable with the classroom towards semester’s end. Participation and focus become more apparent as students start to feel that comfortability aspect of the classroom.

“I could think of a handful of students that didn’t speak the first couple of weeks and now they are answering all the questions,” Dr. Baczkowski said.

“It varies depending on the student,” Professor Davis said. “Sometimes it amps up and gets stronger, sometimes it falls back, and sometimes it stays the same whether good or bad.”