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Addressing common student questions in introductory STEM courses early in the term is one way that instructors can ensure that their students have all been presented with information about how to succeed in their courses. However, categorizing student questions and identifying evidence-based resources to address student questions takes time, and instructors may not be able to easily collect and respond to student questions at the beginning of every course. To help faculty effectively anticipate and respond to student questions, we 1) administered surveys in multiple STEM courses to identify common student questions, 2) conducted a qualitative analysis to determine categories of student questions (e.g., what are best practices for studying, how can in- and out-of- course time be effectively used), and 3) collaboratively identified advice on how course instructors can answer these questions. Here, we share tips, evidence-based strategies, and resources from faculty that instructors can use to develop their own responses for students. We hope that educators can use these common student questions as a starting point to proactively address questions throughout the course and that the compiled resources will allow instructors to easily find materials that can be considered for their own courses.
Making a First Impression: Exploring What Instructors Do and Say on the First Day of Introductory STEM CoursesMomsen, Jennifer L (Ed.)Student impressions formed during the first day of class can impact course satisfaction and performance. Despite its potential importance, little is known about how instructors format the first day of class. Here, we report on observations of the first day of class in 23 introductory science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses. We first described how introductory STEM instructors structure their class time by characterizing topics covered on the first day through inductive coding of class videos. We found that all instructors discussed policies and basic information. However, a cluster analysis revealed two groups of instructors who differed primarily in their level of STEM content coverage. We then coded the videos with the noncontent Instructor Talk framework, which organizes the statements instructors make unrelated to disciplinary content into several categories and subcategories. Instructors generally focused on building the instructor–student relationship and establishing classroom culture. Qualitative analysis indicated that instructors varied in the specificity of their noncontent statements and may have sent mixed messages by making negatively phrased statements with seemingly positive intentions. These results uncovered variation in instructor actions on the first day of class and can help instructors more effectively plan this day by providing messages that set studentsmore »