Rearrange Existing Assignments 

Consider any independent learning assignments already on the course syllabus that students can complete during the disruption and rearrange the schedule accordingly.

Mini-Research Paper

Students can research a refined topic that covers course material during the academic disruption or they can look into a topic that they are invested in researching and that complements course material. Because face-to-face contact with students is limited, it may be best to:

  • Formulate a question that the instructor knows students can answer given the available resources of the Lafayette library. 
  • Encourage data collection that is easily obtainable. For a mini research paper, consider what they may have access to (family members, friends, online open-source data sets, simulated data instructors can provide, etc.) and make sure that the data is accessible.

Literature Review

Have students complete a literature review on course content that is scheduled for the time of academic disruption, or on a topic they are interested in exploring further. Here are some recommended practices: 

  • First, explain the purpose of the literature review (e.g. an overview of a particular topic and the ways in which different authors have described or approached the topic).
  • Set students up for success by encouraging them to pick a narrow topic and time frame of the literature, or the instructor can assign the narrow topic and time frame.
  • Clarify the expectations: How many sources should they include? What kinds of sources? Should students summarize, synthesize the information or can they also critique the information? Can they evaluate the sources? What audience are they writing for? 
  • Give students an idea of how to structure the review (e.g. chronological, thematic)
  • When students are done, integrate peer review by having students e-mail each other for feedback. Once they get feedback, students can revise and submit to the instructor.

Reading Responses

Instead of having students discuss class readings face-to-face, have them respond to their readings by doing a writing assignment. Instructors can either provide specific questions for the text or have students do an activity such as: 

  • They Say/I Say – Instructors can have students summarize the text and then reflect on how they would argue a similar concept. 
  • Yes, No, Okay, But… – Students can use these simple prompts to discuss a reading by explaining what they agree with, disagree with, are ambivalent about and their own intervention. 
  • So what? – Students can summarize a text and then tell the instructor why it matters by either connecting it to broader issues or explaining why it is personally and/or politically compelling. 
  • Consider Terry Tomasek’s “Critical Reading: Using Reading Prompts to Promote Active Engagement with Texts” where he presents questions that encourage students to engage with texts. 

Summarize Course Content for a Particular Audience

Using course materials, students can create different creative projects such as: 

  • Podcasts – here is a handy guide from NPR on how to create a podcast
  • Lessons for younger learners in the K-12 setting 
  • Op-ed columns – The OpEd Project has excellent resources to get instructors and students started