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Preparing for Class

About one month prior to the first class, Svinicki and McKeachie (2014) recommend outlining the content of your first few meetings. It is generally unrealistic to plan the entire course in advance down to the finest detail, but it is beneficial to plan for at least two or three class meetings to ensure the material is integrated and you have built-in sufficient opportunities for student involvement.

As part of this early planning process, consider what teaching methods will be utilized. The methods chosen should match the nature of the goals and objectives set for the course (Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, & Norman, 2010; Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014). In addition, it is beneficial and more engaging for the students if the teaching methods are varied (Liu & Maddux, 2005), as well as any technological mediums used (e.g., PPT, videos). For example, a lecture can be more effective if accompanied by a class discussion. Teaching strategies will also reflect, to some extent, individual teaching styles. College professors should not try to force themselves to do or be something they are not. Instead, they should vary their teaching methods using strategies that fit the goals and objectives of the course but also their unique personalities (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014). The following section provides a detailed listing of teaching strategies to consider.

In addition to outlining the early class meetings, also consider the extent to which technology will play a role in the course (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014). For some the course may be entirely online, but even for those that are not, technology can still be used to give students access to grades, conduct exams and quizzes, share the syllabus, and provide other resources. Online class-management systems also allow you to send mass emails to your students. Consider sending an introductory message about a week before classes begin to introduce yourself and the course.

About two weeks before class conduct a final check of the syllabus (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014). Consider also asking a colleague to review. Check the classroom you’ve been assigned, ensure the technology in the room is working, that you are able to login, and then give the equipment a test run. Being comfortable and prepared will help alleviate some of the first-day jitters.

Though the focus of this report is community corrections curriculum development, college professors do more than teach classes, they may also need to balance research and service expectations (Benekos, 2016; Merlo, 2016; Pfeifer, 2016; Unnithan, 2016). For new professors, Merlo (2016) provides a helpful primer for those seeking tenure as well. While class preparation is important, college professors should also plan ahead for their other responsibilities, including how research and services activities will be organized around their classes or even integrated, if appropriate.

Recommended Readings

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Benekos, P. J. (2016). How to be a good teacher: Passion, person, and pedagogy. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 27(2), 225-237.

Merlo, A. V. (2016). The pre-tenure years: Survive, succeed, and thrive. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 27(2), 175-193.

Pfeifer, H. L. (2016). How to be a good academic citizen: The role and importance of service in academia. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 27(2), 238-254.

Svinicki, M. D., & McKeachie, W. J. (2014). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (14th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Unnithan, N. P. (2016). How to publish and develop a research agenda in academic criminal justice. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 27(2), 212-224.