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How to strengthen the connection with your students - 1

Last updated on 20 December 2021
No more lectures, but social hangouts, question sessions and a student board. The student board helps in organising the course. That is the surprising approach of lecturer Ines Lindner for her course Mathematical Economics. This way, she strengthens the students' ownership of and involvement in the learning process during corona. How does it work? Read her four tips here.

Tip 1: Get an involved student advisory board

Meet with a fixed group of students every week to discuss how things are going, what they need, and which subjects require extra attention. Allow them to make proposals such as a change of timing of weekly canvas quizzes or the agenda for contact hours. Communicate to the whole course how you implemented their advice. Reward the board by making them visible, for example by a canvas page with their name and foto’s.

Tip 2: No more lectures

Don't lecture anymore. "Lectures are over," says Lindner. Instead, offer students several knowledge clips of five to twelve minutes or find existing clips on the internet, for example within moocs.

We know that people's minds are elsewhere during long, non-interactive lectures - and this is even more true online. That's why short videos are a great solution and students choose for themselves when to watch them. It is an initial time investment, but it will save you time and effort in the long run.

Tip 3: Do social hangouts and weekly practice sessions

Make sure students get to know each other at an early stage. Social structures with personal contact motivate them. Always start with a social hangout. Divide the group into smaller groups that, led by one of the students, to work on assignments and tasks. The knowledge clips are a good basis for this. Let students lead their own work groups. Especially an enthusiastic student, has a big motivating effect on the rest of the group. Give different individuals the opportunity to be group leaders in order to encourage diversity. 

Tip 4: Weekly closure

At the end of the week, offer a weekly closure video message: about the content as well as how things are going. Discuss what the most common problems were and how they can be tackled. Decide together with your student advisory board what this clip is about. Offer Canvas quizzes so students can test their mastery of the material. It is important to do this during the learning process and not afterwards. This way feedback contributes to the learning process.

Want to know more?

The tips on this page are very concise. You might, for instance, wonder what exactly a student group leader does and how you can help him/her. Or do you want to know if students were satisfied with this course? Watch the video below or send an e-mail to Ines via the VU Educational Lab via


King, G., & Sen, M. (2013). How social science research can improve teaching. PS: Political Science & Politics, 46(3), 621–629.

This teaching tip is provided by VU NT&L and LEARN! Academy.

Online teaching in corona times: an experiment in co-ownership

Ines Lindner explains how she designs her Mathematical Economics course for more student engagement.