As an instructor, you’ve likely lamented over the fact that there simply aren’t enough hours in a day. And, who can blame you? Between course prep and management, student support, and institutional obligations, so much is expected of you. That said, you may find solace in the familiar adage, “work smarter not harder.” Intrigued? Read on to learn how you can save time running your chemistry course while simultaneously improving your students’ learning outcomes.
Where Does the Time Go?
First, let’s explore the common ways chemistry instructors spend their time.
- Prepping for class time: Many instructors spend time each week preparing their lectures, formulating examples, and devising classroom activities designed to help illustrate complex chemistry concepts.
- Creating homework assignments, practice sets, quizzes, and exams: A chunk of many chemistry instructors’ time is spent preparing homework assignments, quizzes, and exams (including answer keys for each). To deter cheating, many instructors make multiple exam versions, further increasing the workload. Additional time is often spent creating extra practice sets or study guides ahead of exams.
- Grading: After students submit their assignments and/or exams, instructors spend countless hours grading them, writing feedback, and loading results into an LMS.
- Student Support: Students often need additional support outside of class time. This comes in the form of office hours, one-on-one student appointments, and communicating with students via phone calls and emails. The more students struggle with course content, the more time spent providing support.
- Research: Many instructors are the principal investigators of their research group, and spend time preparing, conducting, and administering research. In addition to this, they must dedicate time for writing grant proposals and manuscripts.
- Other Administrative Tasks: Outside of teaching and research, instructors will find that much time is also spent attending meetings, conferences, replying to emails, and taking phone calls.
Value of Streamlining Your Course Management
Not a single thing we’ve outlined is a bad use of your time, however, the more that piles on, the less time you can truly dedicate to any individual task. Ultimately, the student experience suffers as you get bogged down.
By streamlining the preparation and management of your chemistry course, you can direct your focus toward designing a course that has high impact, high rate of success, and less DFWs. This means creating a more interactive classroom experience. It also means having the bandwidth to reshape your course in a way that fosters active learning and provides a student-centered learning environment.
Other benefits include the ability to provide more individualized support for your students. Improving your overall approach means being able to spend less time bringing students up to speed and bridging knowledge gaps and more time deepening their understanding and cultivating a love of chemistry. A final benefit is improving your work-life balance as an instructor, which is always a plus!
Time Saving Tips for Your Chemistry Course
Now that we’ve explored the value of streamlining, let’s take a look at how. There are a number of ways that you can adjust your approach to save time and be more effective at the same time.
Starting with how you prepare your course; here are several adjustments you can make to save yourself time:
- Utilize existing educational resources to use directly or as a starting point. There is no reason to reinvent the same wheel that every other chemistry instructor is building. Look both online and within your direct peer group to share resources and build from there.
- Re-examine how you build your course. Backwards design can save you from the textbook death march (i.e. building a syllabus around the textbook and having to slog through it lecture-by-lecture). By working backwards, you can identify key concepts and build your course content around them. It may appear to take more time up front, but will improve the overall flow of your course while leaving room for flexibility.
- Save time on course administration. Consider implementing educational technology (edtech) that allows online assignment submission, automated grading, and integration/synchronization with your LMS. Leveraging chemistry-specific edtech will offer additional value-adds such as ease of assignment, quiz, and exam creation including chemistry question banks (with algorithmic questions to help deter cheating). These questions should then be able to provide students with relevant, real-time feedback and scaffolding to help connect concept with application.
- Seek device-agnostic learning solutions. The most effective and time-saving edtech will not create tech challenges and barriers for either you or your chemistry students. Utilize app-based tools support the technology your students already own, like smartphones. This helps make class time more meaningful by allowing you to quickly develop and assign quizzes and practice problems, with immediate feedback for both you and your students. Combined with concept-driven course design, you can use this feedback to strengthen your students’ understanding without an increase in instructional time output or effort.
As you can see, there is great value in streamlining your course to better balance life while improving your chemistry students’ overall experience and learning outcomes. By pairing effective course building approaches with a chemistry-specific edtech platform like Aktiv Chemistry, your students will be actively engaged in new ways that help them practice and master chemistry.
Get Your Time Back
To learn more about how Aktiv Chemistry can save you time and improve your chemistry course, schedule a free demo with one of our learning specialists today.