Encourage Students to Come to Class Prepared

Connect pre-class work to in-class work by creating concrete assignments related to out-of-class preparation.
by LSA Learning & Teaching Technology Consultants

Getting students to fully prepare before class isn’t always easy. You can increase your chances, though, by making sure readings and other preparation are linked directly to course activities.

One concrete way to connect pre-class work to in-class work is to assign students a research task to bring back to the classroom to share with their peers. Finding a link, video, or infographic about the day’s topic and posting it in Canvas Discussions leads to lively interactions and encourages students to think about the material before class time.

Another way to engage students with the material before class is to ask them to share thoughts on the assigned reading before class time. Using a tool such as Perusall in Canvas allows students to comment collaboratively on and trade thoughts on specific passages in reading assignments. Having read the material before class, students are better prepared for in-class discussions. Using Perusall to share annotations lets students arrive in class with their thoughts already primed and turning over the material. For a more Q&A oriented approach, you might instead use Piazza to let students post questions they have. Piazza controls can be set to allow answers from other students, or only from the instructor and GSIs.

Using a  3 or 4-question poll at the start of each class also encourages students to prepare before coming to class (and to arrive on time!). The poll could be worth one or two points to encourage students to participate or can be used as ungraded participation credit. Pollsters can use iClicker or even Google Forms for live polling. 

Research has demonstrated that we must ensure in-class and out-of-class learning experiences support each other and relate directly to each other, to best achieve the course’s learning goals. To consult with an instructional designer about how to accomplish this in your course, email the Learning and Teaching Technology Consultants at LSATechnologyServices@umich.edu!

Further Reading

Miller, K., Lukoff, B., King, G., & Mazur, E. (2018). Use of a Social Annotation Platform for Pre-Class Reading Assignments in a Flipped Introductory Physics Class. Frontiers in Education, 2018(3).

Ginns, P., & Ellis, R. (2007). Quality in blended learning: Exploring the relationships between on-line and face-to-face teaching and learning. Internet and Higher Education, 10(1), 53–64.


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