Managing student expectations during each semester is an ongoing process.

Managing a course can be complicated but incredibly rewarding. The outcomes achieved and connections made are the core of students’ experience of university. This page highlights a range of considerations and advice to support your students effectively and efficiently through the semester.

Creating a sense of belonging

Students who develop a strong sense of belonging at UQ are more likely to enjoy and succeed in their studies. However, as we responded to the pandemic and modified our teaching to new modes, many students did not feel as connected to the UQ community as in previous years. A DVC(A) team has been working with experts across UQ to identify ways to nurture students' sense of belonging.

View examples of small but powerful changes you can make within your courses to foster belonging.

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Communicating with students

Communication is essential for creating an effective learning environment. Regular contact and an appropriate two-way communication channel help develop a sense of community and belonging in a course.

Students can experience stress, fear and uncertainty at any stage during a course. Effective consultation with teachers is the most frequent request from students who are feeling isolated. Consequently, providing clear and timely guidance and responses can help students engage consistently and productively in your course.

Proactive communication and planning can also help manage your communications workload. Students are more likely to know what is expected of them, what they can expect of you and the best way to resolve their problems if you have clear processes ready for them.

It is important to keep students informed as to how the course is progressing. Please carefully plan how you will communicate with students and create a detailed communication plan for the semester. For most courses, a weekly email or Learn.UQ (Blackboard) announcement will help manage expectations and build trust and confidence in your students. Designate a regular day and time for your communications and stick to it. For some, Monday morning works well. For others, Friday afternoon. Please try to limit the number of communications to students as they will also be receiving other emails from other Course Coordinators and UQ organisational units. However, there will always be essential communications that need to go out at different times, e.g. lockdown communications, examination information, etc.

At the beginning of the semester, communicate the details of how the course will proceed to students, along with how and when they can contact you (email, online office hours, on-campus office hours etc.). Contact method and details can be included in the Course Staff section in the course site. Students will likely have some questions, so let them know how and when they can expect to receive a reply from you.

Some frequently asked questions include:

  • Can you provide details of the assessment processes?
  • How should I engage in this class?
  • What aspects will be online and on-campus?
  • How do I organise my learning online and on-campus?
  • How should I be communicating with my tutors, and what are their expectations?

Depending on your course and the student, you may also receive questions about Disability Action Plans, changes to enrolment modes, group/team work, laboratory work, practicums and professional experiences.

Make sure you have the details of what is happening within your school, faculty and at an institutional level. Read updates, emails and attend meetings. Ask questions and check the main website COVID-19 advice for the UQ community for new information.

Example email to students (DOCX, 59.4 KB)
Example Blackboard announcement (DOCX, 57.9 KB)
Communicating and connecting (source: Faculty of Business, Economics and Law) (PDF, 128.2 KB) Evaluating and promoting student engagement (source: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences) (PDF, 107.9 KB)

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Setting expectations for students in different learning environments and delivery modes

You will need to think about how students engage, participate, communicate and meet assessment requirements and deadlines in different delivery modes. As you plan your course delivery with your course team, keep in mind the different impact contexts may have on your students' ability to meet those expectations. These might include access to working devices or internet connections, digital skills and time zones. Be ready to handle requests for support and extensions in an equitable way.

See student support services and exams and assessment information for students.

When setting up course expectations, think about what you expect from your students and what they can expect from you. By setting up these reciprocal arrangements, you begin to build a culture of trust and respect.

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Motivating students

Student feedback has highlighted that some students find it challenging to maintain their study motivation online. Managing student motivation can be challenging for teachers. There are a few things you can do to help build student motivation: 

  1. Set clear goals for your students each week for what they need to do in your class. Keep the tasks concrete and provide information on how to get started. Weekly Blackboard announcements released at the same time each week have worked well for course coordinators.
  2. Provide your students with clear guidelines of where to get support and assistance.
  3. Provide some time for students to talk to each other in your online and on-campus classes if appropriate. Discussions in breakout rooms in Zoom online or Think-Pair-Share in on-campus situations work well for this. Otherwise, encourage them to engage with each other on your class discussion board or another forum.
  4. Begin your on-campus or online class with a welcome and a quick summary of where the class has been and where it is going. You may choose to ask them how they have been or if they have any comments to make. Online or on-campus, you could ask for a thumbs up/down. Your best guide is your knowledge of your students and the feedback they give you.
  5. Consider that students are not always going to be productive and may face more technology issues now that some of their course is available digitally.

Professor Blake McKimmie has developed a series of study motivation tips (PDF, 150.1 KB)and short videos for students to help them stay motivated. Feel free to share these resources with them.

 Further resources for teachers
Supporting student attendance
HigherEd Heroes podcast "How to grab and hold the attention of students in large first year lectures" 

 Resources for students
Six (6) short video tips
Study motivation tips (PDF, 150.1 KB)

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 Ready to Teach Week

Twice a year, ITaLI puts together a program of online and in-person activities designed to help you prepare course materials for the upcoming semester.

Need help?

ITaLI offers personalised support services across various areas including guidance on course management.