The best time to set expectations is at the start of the course as you and the students are getting to know each other. Consider the following strategies:
- Make behavioral and academic expectations clear in your syllabus.
- Use positive, constructive language, not threats of reprisal.
- Ask your students to work in groups on the first day to develop classroom rules (this page provides additional suggestions for setting ground rules).
- Talk about yourself and let the students know what you value.
- Learn your students’ names and learn more about them.
- Encourage students to see learning as a process, and to see how your course fits into their larger learning goals. In “First-Day Questions for the Learner-Centered Classroom“, Gary A. Smith suggests an activity that can increase student buy-in from Day One by getting them to think about the value to them of the work you are asking them to do.
- Be alert for possible mismatched expectations.
- Have students complete a knowledge survey to see what they already know about the topics to be covered (or remember from prerequisite courses).
For additional tips, see the following links:
- The First Day of Class: A Once-a-Semester Opportunity
- See here for additional guidance in designing a great syllabus