Spotlight on SOTL: Want to help students stay motivated and on-track? Consider using checklists
This article is based on the following research article:
How satisfied do you feel when you cross or check off an item on your to do list? Does this motivate you to keep going with your daily work? An article by McMaster University’s Dr. Catherine Anderson, Department of Linguistics & Languages, highlights the use of checklists as a quick and effective way to improve organization and motivation among students in Linguistic courses at McMaster
What did the researchers do and find?
The author highlights how the use of checklists can be helpful when supporting students in the transition to unfamiliar settings, such as the transition from high school to first-year University. Using experience from Linguistics I at McMaster University, Dr. Anderson incorporates a weekly ungraded module checklist into Avenue to Learn. Dr. Anderson observed that nearly ~80% of students checked some of the checklist items, while ~20% used checklists consistently. When asking students about their experience with staying on track with the material, again ~80% of students strongly agreed that the checklists were helpful. The use of checklists was ranked even higher than that of graded quizzes.
How might you use this research in your teaching?
Clearly checklists can be a strong motivator for students to stay on-track, helping to scaffold content and class activities into smaller chunks. Other similar research has found that checklists can also improve student learning1, practical skill development1, increase student self-reflection2, improving course assignment submission3, and improving overall student and instructor satisfaction3.
There are three practical ways you can incorporate checklists into your teaching:
- Embed Checklists into Course: Include checklists embedded into your Avenue to Learn course, either set-up by week or module of content. You can find out more about setting up your Avenue to Learn checklists at the Avenue Help website;
- Create Checklists for Assignments: Add in a checklist for major assignments or class activities, to help with keeping students on track with sub-components of an assessment; and
- Evaluate Checklist Usability: Ask for student feedback on checklists mid-way and at the end of a course term and look at the amount of use of checklists in the “Class Progress” feature under your “Course Admin” tab in Avenue to Learn.
Consider adding this Spotlight to SoTL Research article to your to do list to learn more about how to implement checklists into your teaching.
- Hofer RE, Nickolaus OB, Pawlina W. (2011). Using checklists in a gross anatomy laboratory improves learning outcomes and dissection quality. Anatomical Sciences Education. 4(5): p.249-255.
- Cremaschi AM. (2012). The effect of a practice checklist on practice strategies, practice self-regulation and achievement of collegiate music majors enrolled in a beginning class piano course. Research Studies in Music Education. 34(2), 223-233.
- Cavanaugh T, Lamkin ML, Haihong H. (2012). Using a generalized checklist to improve student assignment submission times in an online course. ERIC.
Stay tuned for the next Spotlight on SoTL coming to the MacPherson Memo on June 29, 2022