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How to efficiently deal with the flow of questions from students?

Last updated on 16 January 2022
Help, I can't find my grade in Canvas”, ”I accidentally submitted the wrong document”, “I lost my document” or “Help, I registered too late for the exam”. Students may ask many questions about the organisation and content of your course. How do you limit this flow of questions from your students? In this tip you will discover several possibilities.

For each course, you obviously create a good study guide and a student-friendly Canvas website containing all the necessary information for the students. You can read more about this in an earlier tip. But the course information can sometimes become outdated or students can still miss something. What can you do about this without losing too much time?

Tip 1: Make a FAQ list in advance

Think back to last year's most frequently asked questions and list them. Document the five most frequently asked questions in FAQ form and place them visibly on the landing page of your Canvas course (advice: visible on the first screen, usually within the first ten sentences).

Update these after each question session, Discussion Board or questions sent via email (see the following tips). This way, you will anticipate on recurring questions and work on a meaningful collection.

Tip 2: Plan a fixed Q&A session every week

Offering a fixed planning for answering questions, creates clarity for the students and gives you a fixed moment to dive into the course when it suits you best.

The question session can be either online or face-to-face. Hybrid is not necessary; with more than 75 people interested, other forms of teaching may be more appropriate.

You can increase the value of the Q&A session by combining the Q&A moments of several courses, guiding projects or a quick lunch.

Tip 3: create a Q&A forum on the Canvas Discussion Board

Creating a Discussion Board allows students to view previously asked questions and read along with your response to them. Then everyone learns from each other.

You can structure the Discussion Board by assignment, subject or any other logical structure of your course. Don't forget to create a general category for other questions.

You can also have students respond to the questions asked in the Discussion Board. Rewarding good responses by saying 'It's true what ... says' increases the student's involvement, the chance of new responses and reduces your workload.

Tip 4: Ask for support from a student assistant or student volunteer

The deployment of a student assistant not only frees up time, but your student assistant's insights into, for example, the most frequently asked questions help you to make simple adjustments (possibly by the student assistant themselves). The student assistant can help with the question sessions and moderating the Discussion Board.

Students also find it easier to approach a student-assistant than a lecturer and it can therefore encourage them to seek advice earlier, when the learning process can still be adjusted (more easily). No student assistant available? Ask the students to volunteer to help. There is bound to be a student who would like to do this.

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