Collecting advice from previous students

On the course web site, I like to offer new students some advice from former students. In addition to the university evaluation forms, I gave the students a brief form of my own at the end of the semester. One question I always asked is, “What do you know now that you wish you had known at the start of the course?” I collect some answers and present them in a document at my course web site with the title “Advice from previous students.”

I try to make it a mix of both positive and negative responses. For example, “She does not go over everything that will be on the test” could be viewed as a negative response but it is also true. I don’t mind letting new students know this. Most of the responses are encouraging. Here is a sampling…

  • “It is OK to be nervous.
  • “Get the assigned papers and impromptus done early.”
  • “To relax and manage time wisely.”
  • “Public speaking takes work but isn’t as nerve-racking as I expected.”
  • “Pay attention to the grading rubric because it tells you what is expected in the speech.”
  • “Getting to know your classmates makes the speeches easier and more natural.”
  • “Start outlines three days before they are due. They take awhile.”
  • “Just talking to the class rather than knowing a lot of facts makes a better speech.”
  • “How easy it was to make eye contact: Write less on your notecards.”
  • “To just enjoy listening to other speeches and giving my own because you’ll learn a lot.”

My goal was for the new students to find this information from their peers helpful and encouraging. This could probably be done for any class, but I think it has particular value for public speaking because of the anxiety that many students will bring to the class.

Post a comment to tell us what advice you would give to students taking public speaking in college.

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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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