Exams, quizzes, term papers, and presentations are all common forms of mid-semester course assessment. Mid-semester can be a challenging time for all students, particularly for first-generation students, as they may not be as familiar with follow up strategies to improve in a course if they are struggling. By this point in the semester, students may have taken one to two exams as well as written a paper and/or given a presentation. Yet, based upon the course requirements, they may still have several exams/papers/presentations left. It’s not surprising then that midterms can be very stressful. But, what about after midterms? What if a student is struggling in a course? What’s the best course of action?
There are several approaches that students can take if they are struggling in a course. Students should review their course policy statement/syllabus to check out the remaining course requirements so they can gauge just how much of their final grade remains. Students should also visit with their instructors during office hours. Students can bring their notes to ask for instructor’s input or get suggestions for how to take notes more effectively. Students may also ask for suggestions on how to do better in the course. Before meeting with instructors, though, students need to do a quick self-assessment of their own performance in the course—Are they attending class regularly? Are they paying complete attention in class? Have they read all of the required course materials? Have they been taking notes, both in and out of class? Another possibility is for students to discuss options with their academic advisor. Advisors serve as university translators (Bruffee, 1999) by assisting students with their understanding of policies and procedures.
In addition to reviewing course policy statements, visiting with instructors during office hours, and scheduling an appointment with their academic advisor, students should also consider utilizing the Bear CLAW to get help with a course and writing papers. The Bear CLAW is offering virtual consultations. For students who may be struggling with a research paper, they should visit with a reference librarian for assistance in conducting research. Both the Bear CLAW and reference librarian consultation are completely free and available to students.
Speaking of free, another great resource for students is academic coaching. Students may complete a self-referral form to meet with an academic coach. Academic coaches can offer students strategies for studying, time management, goal setting, and much more. Check out the link below to learn more:
It’s important to note that midterm grades are only required to be submitted for any student enrolled in 100 or 200 level courses. So, for students who are enrolled in a 300 level course, regardless of whether they are freshmen or juniors, they will not receive a midterm grade that was submitted to the Office of the Registrar. However, all students should be monitoring their own grades throughout the semester. For students who do receive an official midterm grade, those grades do not appear on their college transcript; only final grades, which all students receive upon course completion, appear on college transcripts.
Bruffee, K. A. (1999). Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and the authority of knowledge (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
(submitted by Dr. Tracey Glaessgen, Center for Academic Success and Transition)