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Teaching Tips

The Last Day of Class: Beginning at the End

Final Examination Review. Term Project Presentations. Last minute questions. These are some common topics for the last day of class that underscore the ending of the course.   But if college graduations are called “commencements,” can we redefine the last day of class as a beginning?

We hope that our students will carry with them what they have learned, and apply, integrate, and develop this knowledge well beyond the final exam or term project. In this sense, the ending of the course is, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, where students start from.  The last day of class offers you a chance to glimpse into your students’ future and foresee the lasting impact of your teaching.

Below are some examples of questions you might pose on the last day of class, or as an assignment prior to that session.  Some questions will fit your course better than others, or you might develop your own queries to mark the “beginning at the end” of the course.

Formats might also vary: students may be asked to write their responses individually and then share them in pairs or in small groups, or responses might be submitted online, perhaps using technology such as Wiki.

Whatever the format, such exercises at the end of a course might suspend, even for a moment, students’ focus on final grades. In that moment, we can quietly celebrate education as more than an end in itself, and remind our students and ourselves that learning should never end.

  • What did you expect to learn in this course?  Did you learn it?
  • Have you changed your opinions or views as a result of this course? Why or why not?
  • Did your view of [topic/discipline] change as a result of this course?  Why or why not?
  • Complete the following sentences: One thing I was surprised to learn in this course is:  … .  I was surprised to learn this because … .
  • If someone asked you, “what did you learn in [name of class],” how would you respond?  How do you think you would respond in five years from now?
  • Complete the following sentence: I used to think — but now I think — .
  • If you could share one idea from this course with others, what would it be, and why?
  • One thing I would like to learn more about is:

Adapted from Tip by
Kiren Dosanjh Zucker,
Accountancy Professor & Former Faculty Development Director
CSU Northridge

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