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Sustaining Learning During the Semester

The time between midterms and finals can be critical in sustaining student learning and success. As we approach--and prepare students for--finals week this fall, these teaching strategies allow you to encourage and sustain progress and engagement in your course. 

Late-Semester Strategies for Sustaining Learning

As the semester progresses, design experiences that encourage students to

  • learn from reflection opportunities based on earlier assignments;

  • develop learning strategies based on formative feedback; and

  • build on earlier feedback in the course and what they have learned on earlier assignments. 

Bridging midterm feedback to finals week through formative feedback

Use formative and summative feedback to ensure that students connect midterm performance and learning assessment(s) with the preparation process for final projects and exams. The weeks and learning experiences following midterms can be an ideal opportunity to build on feedback later in the semester; however, students will need time and structure to incorporate that information into their academic processes. 

Give formative feedback - Formative feedback can help students identify strengths and weaknesses, along with areas of focus that need work. It can help faculty recognize where students need additional support to address challenges immediately (before the end of the semester). 

Reflection based on previous learning

Timely feedback, coupled with opportunities to improve, can be particularly impactful during these important final weeks of the semester:

  • Offer more substantive feedback with structured guidance for the final weeks;

  • Develop a roadmap of final projects and assignments in the class and ensure that low-stakes (often weekly) assignment learning outcomes clearly align with high-stakes assignments (common of finals week) and that these are visible to students;

  • Invite students to design an action plan for successful learning and engagement in the class based on earlier feedback in the course, assignments they have revised, or reflections; and 

  • Establish clear expectations for participation and involvement in the class. 

Campus academic resources can support students as they prepare for final exams or projects in fall courses. Faculty can show students ways to incorporate these resources into their learning process as we approach the final weeks of the fall while modeling effective critical and creative thinking and metacognitive practices.

Incorporate peer-to-peer learning and student academic resources

Peer-to-peer learning usually involves designing activities that emphasize students simultaneously learning while also contributing to other students’ learning. These experiences can be an effective way to structure late-semester learning and accountability. 

  • Design activities whereby students model concepts, activities, or learning for and alongside other students. 

  • Reinforce learning by incorporating academic resources that complement and expand upon concepts learned in the classroom or increase the amount and range of feedback available to students. 

Academic resources:

Final Exams and Meeting Times

  • Remind students of the final exam time and format. 

  • Provide exam information in multiple forms and via Blackboard channels.

Do you have questions? Would you like to discuss your end-of-semester plans? 

Schedule a faculty consultation to discuss ways to incorporate these strategies into your course here. Visit the Teaching Resources page at

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