Tips to help you address student readiness

Judy Hante is an Adjunct professor at San Diego Miramar College
Student readiness is a student’s willingness to learn and an open mind. It also means they have the necessary skills to be able to learn the course material confidently.
It is crucial to assess student readiness before the semester begins and to address any knowledge gaps. This will help students to understand new concepts and build their confidence, which will ultimately lead to their success.
Let me show how I addressed readiness in my Statistics course with a few additional steps in my course plan.

Increase student confidence
Students who are unwilling to learn are at a disadvantage in my class. Students who are unwilling to learn often give up when the material becomes more difficult. Statistics is a subject that many students are afraid to take on. I address this concern in my first week of class.
I assure my students that they can succeed from the beginning and that my teaching style is not to leave anyone behind.
Sometimes I share data from previous semesters that shows that most students passed this course. I also remind students that those who failed to pass were those who didn’t attend class, weren’t on time or didn’t complete homework. This helps students understand that success is possible.

Assess Readiness & Reduce Fear
Once I have built up a solid foundation, I can assess the skills of my students. WebAssign is a great tool for assessing readiness, regardless of whether I’m teaching in a classroom setting or online. To assess students’ skills, I schedule a diagnostic assignment that includes multiple choice and fill in-the-blank questions.
I provide free-response questions to students that allow them to describe their familiarity with the course material. For incorrect answers, no points will be deducted.
In the age COVID-19, I included questions about students’ personal lives in the assignment. Students answered questions about poor internet, caring for loved ones, moving back home, and lack of computer. These issues can be addressed by campus resources such as computer checkouts or internet access in parking lots. With some issues, I can make accommodations in due dates or the assignment-submission process.
I am able to assess their skill level and get valuable feedback about the stress they experience while taking my course. This allows me to address student fears in a synchronous class, which helps reduce stress.

Strategies to Address Readiness
You can address readiness through feedback, lectures, and assignments that cover the necessary skills and cognitive processes. Just-in-time remediation is my preference so students get it when they need it.
These are the strategies that I have found to be most effective.

Learn new topics and skills while you improve your basic skills.
I show the basics of skills and help students to learn new concepts. It takes very little extra time and ensures that students of all skill levels are able to keep up with the rest of class in a respectful manner.

Reinforce the process, not just the correct answer
All examples and answers I give to students include “how-to” details. Although the “how to” may seem more than most students need, it helps them understand the process and validate their thinking.
Students can also understand my thoughts by reading my explanations.
I find it particularly useful to create short videos that focus on specific skills or topics. Because they are short, they are more likely to get watched and can be integrated into assignments or other resources.
Design with Readiness in mind
To help students be ready for the course, think about the questions and resources that you are asking them. Here are some things I do for students:
I include at least one tutorial question in WebAssign assignments. These questions guide students step-by-step through the use of a new concept. These questions prepare students to answer the questions in the assignment later. They are also useful resources for students studying for exams.
Students have access to optional resources in assignment questions, such as Master It tutorials and links to relevant textbook sections (Read Its), to aid them if they need it.
Finally, it is a good idea to allow students to access Personal Study Plans (PSP) if they are available in your textbook. This will encourage students to review material and take tests.

Check Student Understanding
Last, make sure that your readiness strategies are effective. Allowing the Show My Work featu