As CSU prepares to go fully virtual for after Fall Break for the remainder of the semester, there are some great tips that your student can utilize to best advocate for their needs in their courses. This is especially true for students who may have been learning in-person or through a hybrid model this semester and might not have had a fully virtual class. While the learning environment will be changing, instructors, teaching assistants, and peer mentors (depending on your major) will still be available.
The Parent and Family Programs Team would like to pass along some helpful tips and tricks that can keep your student engaged virtually with their coursework and how to manage expectations for grades.
Here are some quick tips for Virtual Learning:
- Your student should have easy access to their instructor’s email address, office phone number, or Zoom meeting details for their office hours. Same with the TA or TAs for their courses. If not, have them reach out and ask.
- Your student doesn’t always need to reach out when there is a problem. Being able to communicate with an instructor is an extension of developing a relationship with them. If your student is curious about other components of their program, they can communicate with their instructor and see where it takes them.
- Your student’s instructor and TAs have office hours – this is usually communicated through the class syllabus or on Canvas. During these times is when the instructor is most available. If not, your student can always reach out to the instructor or TAs to set up an appointment if their schedules allow it.
- Be prepared! If students are really struggling to understand a concept, idea, or sets of problems, showing their previous work can help the instructor or TAs understand where they are at.
- Instructors and TAs are not here to judge your students work – they are here to facilitate their success in the course. If your student is nervous, have them prepare as much as possible and reach out.
- Some majors within STEM utilize a peer mentorship model of teaching in their courses. Have your student reach to them to ask for guidance as well.
Mekdelawit Desta and Kathryn Berta wrote a great article for the Parent and Family monthly newsletter about advice the Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) has for students on advocating for their needs. You can access this article by clicking here.
Additionally, we have provided many more academic resources for students on the KEEP LEARNING website, a new website created to support students in their academics amidst COVID-19. You can view these additional resources here: https://www.acns.colostate.edu/keep-learning/
Conversations about Semester Grades:
For many of our students, this semester has presented unique and new academic challenges that might impact academic grades. While your student might be used to receiving certain grades in a standard college semester or performing at a certain level in high school, we know this semester is unlike any other and students might be performing differently. As you navigate the end of the fall semester and find yourself beginning to talk about final grades, we have a few tips for conversations to have with your student if they are concerned about academic grade performance.
Questions to ask your student:
- What factors might be leading to your grade performance this semester? Is the course content challenging? Is the course format structured in a way that doesn’t connect for you? Were there external factors that impacted your academics such as mental health, family, employment, etc.)
- How important is this class to your degree plans/future career plans? In courses that you are not performing as well as you would like to, is the course a requirement for your academic major /degree? Is it required for a minor?
- Does your grade performance this semester signify that you you might want to change your major or has it just been a rough semester and you want to keep working hard in your academic area of study?
- What are your priorities and values and did those need to take precedence over this class or classes?
- How are you feeling about self-motivation, time management, self-discipline or work/life balance? Do we need to make any adjustments in these areas?
- What are your options moving forward? Can you repeat/delete the course? Can you take the course again with a different professor who might better connect with your learning style? Can you add a summer class?
- Have you spoken to your Academic Advisor about the challenges you are facing and discussed options for the future to be successful?
- Have you connected with any other CSU resources that you are finding helpful? If not, let’s reach out to CSU staff to determine our options for additional support.