What We’re Learning About Learning: Tips for Making the Most of the Spring Semester (Parts I & II)

“I was surprised by many aspects of how the semester unfolded, so it seemed to require constant reassessment and readjustment,” shared GU Linguistics professor Marissa Fond during CNDLS’ December Digital Learning Days. In those plenary sessions, eight Georgetown faculty shared their experiences from this year’s anything-but-normal fall semester. Their insights—what they brought from virtual teaching to in-person teaching, what they learned this fall, and how they’re planning to approach another not-normal spring—are the focus of the new two-part episode of What We’re Learning About Learning.

The first part of the episode looks at the way that professors Marissa Fond (Linguistics), Jennifer Fox (Biology), and Chandra Manning (History) approached the challenges and opportunities of the fall 2021 classroom. They implemented techniques and tools that they had first tried out during semesters of virtual teaching and learning, encountered new wrinkles, and experimented with fresh solutions. Above all they had to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. What Manning told her students applied to teachers as well: “One: things will go wrong. Two: you are going to learn anyway.”

The second part of the episode focuses on assessment—and, in particular, ways to reduce student stress and anxiety around assessment. How do you grade attendance? How do you give students agency in their own learning? How do you make assignments engaging and meaningful? How do you scaffold them to help students succeed? Professors MC Chan (Biology), Yoshiko Mori (Japanese), Motoko Omori (Japanese), Kumi Sato (Japanese), and Karen Shaup (English) shared their strategies for evaluating their students’ learning accurately and compassionately. 

So, for timely wisdom from our colleagues: what students seem to need right now, what works and what doesn’t in the new classroom, and what they’re planning to do going forward, check out part one now. Spring 2022 surely won’t be “normal,” but it can be a semester where learning, growth, and well-being are all at the center of our new classrooms.