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Guiding Students through The Final Stretch

Have you noticed a decrease in class attendance? Do students seem listless and apathetic? Are they falling behind in assignments?

According to Wlodkowski (1985), the learning sequence in a semester or term can be broken into the beginning, middle and ending periods. Wlodkowski suggests that there are several factors affecting a learner's motivation during each period. One such factor at the end of the semester is fatigue (60-66). To regain momentum, and guide students through this final stretch, consider the following:

  • Try a different approach. If your approach typically appeals to the visual or auditory learner, consider an activity appealing to the kinesthetic learner. For example, give each student a different step to a problem or part of a system, and have them arrange themselves in the correct order.
  • Have your students make a schedule that details the last part of the class and includes assignment dates, study sessions, exams, etc. Help students organize their time following the "little and often" approach (i.e., five 30 minute study sessions per week versus one four-hour session the night before a test).
  • If your students are extremely busy, encourage them to have manageable learning materials wherever they go (e.g., a book, flashcards, mind maps, etc.) and take advantage of spare time (e.g., riding on a bus, waiting for a parking spot or an appointment, between classes, etc.) to review these materials.
  • Talk to other faculty to find out how they deal with the final stretch. Sometimes the process of sharing brings a different perspective and new approaches.
  • Ask students for suggestions for dealing with end-of-semester stress, deadlines, etc. Begin class by asking students to write down their worries; have them share them in small groups. Next, direct the student groups to reframe their worries into something more doable such as taking the statement "I'll never get it all done," to "I'll just take it one step at a time." (Duffy and Jones 208)


Duffy, D., and J. Jones. Teaching Within the Rhythms of the Semester. San Francisco: Jossey, 1995. Print.

Wlodkowski, R. J. Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Guide to Improving Instruction and Increasing Learner Achievement. San Francisco: Jossey, 1985. Print.

"Learning Pace." Learning Practice Index. Learn Plus, n.d. Web. 30 Sept 2010.

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