How do professors introduce first-year students to university expectations when teaching online? Dora Cavallo-Medved responds to this challenge by doing her best to recreate the in-person experience.
Currently Dr. Cavallo-Medved is teaching cell biology in two different timeslots, each with about 300 students. With this number of students, it is far more difficult to create a sense of what in-person university learning is, and to prepare first-year students for upcoming years at the University of Windsor.
By hosting real-time lectures and encouraging her students to attend them, she tried to stay as close as possible to what her class would normally be. As usual, there are labs every week and though they are less hands-on due to the limitations of creating an online lab environment, they help to create an environment where student connections can continue to be made.
Cavallo-Medved herself met many of her friends in university through the labs that she attended and has worked to create a similar environment for students. Each lab has 10 to 20 participants, allowing for more intensive discussions between students than lectures.
She has also created “Open Learning Sessions” where she covers skills pertinent to student success and creates opportunities for students to review what they have learned. Oftentimes this will include playing games such as Kahoot, having question polls, or having a session on tools for student success. Each cell biology section has one live open learning session and one lecture per week.
Dr. Cavallo-Medved advises students to consider these points to ensure success:
- Are you up to date?
- Do you have a plan to continuously self-reflect on your learning?
- What strategies do you have for taking exams?
- Ask for help.