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Tips for a good start to the semester Wendy Paulusz Guides and Tips

Tips for a good start to the semester

Posted in Guides & Tips

The checklist below has suggestions to help you set up an inclusive student learning experience from the start of semester.

Accurate information

Accurate information is a must for all students. Incorrect or outdated information will create unnecessary confusion for everyone.

  • Check that links are active and that they take you to the correct resources
  • Remove any out-dated content – this can be confusing for all students, especially if dates are incorrect
  • Provide a list of uncommon abbreviations or subject-specific terms
  • Ensure your Subject Guide is current and accurate:
    • dates and deadlines
    • links to La Trobe resources and support sites are functioning
    • names of subject coordinators/lecturers/tutors
    • contact details (phone and room numbers, email addresses)
    • make any necessary changes based on previous student feedback
  • Make sure font, font size and layout is consistent.
  • Check that reading lists are:
    • up-to-date and remove old resources
    • referenced correctly
    • any secondary readings are clearly listed

Creating new resources

When you create a new resource you can save this in different formats, eg. Word, PowerPoint as well as PDF. This is one of the easiest ways to improve the accessibility of your resources as it provides options for the students to use the resources in different ways on different devices and platforms.

File naming

If you are updating and replacing old resources, take the time to rename the files using a consistent and clear naming convention which will assist with making your subject resources discoverable and meaningful.


Get to know your students:

  • provide them with an early assignment/information about themselves. This will give you a better idea of their skill level, processing style and interests. And an opportunity to find themes to build on in later sessions.
  • use the Subject Learning Guide and rubrics to clarify course objectives, learning outcomes, due dates and whom to contact regarding extensions.
  • provide time in class to go through the LMS, Pebblepad and any other new technology students may need help with. This may need to be done several times to clarify information.
  • alert students to times when you are available both in person and online to ensure expectations are met.

Also, meet with your teaching team as early as possible in the semester to clarify the standards, expectations and practices that you will all share in relation to contact hours with students and marking. Use the rubric and examples of work to compare marking. This will ensure that your students get consistent and fair results and feedback for their assessment tasks.

External Resources and References

Strategies for Starting the Semester Well Instructional Design Center Northern Illinois University
Tips for faculty teaching for the first time Center for Teaching and Learning Washington University in St Louis

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