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Peer Review

ELIXR: Making your 1st class session really first class

by Lou Zweier , Joe Grimes , cynthia desrochers , Thomas Carey


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jan 31, 2014 by Faculty Development
Overview: Experts in the field of faculty development stress the importance of the first class meeting for establishing an effective foundation that will support the learning activities you have planned within the course, whether face to face, online, or hybrid.In this faculty development workshop-ready Case Story you will meet five exemplary and experienced faculty members across a variety of disciplines actually leading the first day of a class. This site is Flash interactive presentation created with Pachyderm which includes an analysis of five pedagogically sound goals you might consider for the first day of class: (1) establish motivation for the course; (2) frame the entire course; (3) assess students informally; (4) establish expectations for the course; and (5) create a comfortable classroom climate. There several, ready-to-use workshop resources for faculty developers, such as handouts about the goals, expert tips, a planning template for faculty, and even a workshop guide for faculty developers or teaching/learning center representatives to conduct their own workshop. For more information and direction on using this case story see "Using First Day Stories for Faculty Development Blog Archive" at NOTE: The MERLOT ELIXR website is a digital case story repository that hosts more than 70 discipline-specific multimedia stories. The URL of the site is:
Type of Material: Workshop and Training Material but may also be used as a Tutorial by individual faculty members and instructors.
Recommended Uses: This site and its rich array of workshop resources is ideal for faculty development workshops or just for yourself as an interactive tutorial.
Technical Requirements: Flash plugin, browser
Identify Major Learning Goals: The goal of this resource is much more than to get the instructor through some essential administrative tasks on the first day of class. From this site and any workshop you either present or attend which is based on it, you will learn how to effectively design your first class meetings to “set the stage” by preparing students for your course plans. You will also learn how to send a clear set of messages about the instructor and the course.
Target Student Population: Faculty developers and trainers, faculty and instructors teaching face-to-face, online, or hybrid courses at the secondary and college levels.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: You must either be teaching or preparing to teach at the college level though there are tips for K-12 also.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: As a recommended set of first-day teaching strategies this resource is pedagogically sound and as workshop material it is well in tune with professional and faculty development principles of adult training.The five goals for the first day of class were presented with many examples and a rich explanation of the rationale behind each goal.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The user or recipient of this resource will be able to effectively achieve the stated goals of learning to design an effective first day of class experience and being able to send a clear message about course expectations. This resource is clearly more effective than similar text-based resources that teach about the first day of class. It is also effective in appealing to and engaging the user. An option is provided for users to submit their own Case Story and have it reviewed. The principles have been presented in a logical manner with great examples of their implementation in the classroom.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site is very easy to use and navigate. Information is arranged in an orderly fashion, well organized and logically sequenced. The content level is appropriate for the expertise level of the intended audience, so the resource is easy to understand. Information is presented in ways that are familiar for faculty and faculty developers. The site is clearly designed with no distracting design elements. The labels, buttons, menus,and general layout of the site are consistent and visually distinct. There are both video captions and transcripts, even the ability to enlarge displayed text.
Concerns: The only slight concern is with the navigation from section to section where you must return to the home page.

Other Issues and Comments: There are no other issues.