I am a graduate student being given my first opportunity to design and teach a course in September. The course is a 4th year undergraduate seminar, and I am somewhat daunted by the task. If the course was lecture format I would feel confident that I could fill all of the space each day, but because of the seminar format (minimal lecturing) the success of the course is going to come down to whether or not my students are keen to engage with the material and to enter into dialogue in class.
I am wondering if anybody has tips for approaching seminars that help to get students engaged. I've tried to build some things into the syllabus that encourage / require this: in particular, I am requiring students to provide questions / comments about each week's readings online before seminar begins, so that we can discuss them as a group. But are there any other tips that others have for me?
Great question! I've never taught in the UK, so I don't know what the culture and expectations there are like. However, I have taught upper-division undergrad seminars in the US every semester for the past 9 years, so I can say what has worked for me.
The other thing I do to is have students work in small groups. Each class, I intersperse a group assignment in my lecture--something pretty advanced that either gets students to think critically and creatively about something I covered in lecture, or alternatively, to work through something in the daily text (e.g. a difficult passage, etc.). Students seem to love these activities, as they get to know and help each other think through the material. Each group has to write down their answer, which we discuss as a class, and then I collect the assignments at the end of the session and grade them.
Anyway, these are just a couple of things that I do. I am not sure how well they might translate to UKgraduate's situation, but hope UKgrad finds them helpful. In any case, what do you all do in undergrad seminars? Do you have any suggestions for UKgrad?