Avoiding "High-Impact Fatigue"

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"Does 'High-Impact' Teaching Cause High-Impact Fatigue?" (post) outlines strategies for managing the workload and effort associated with implementing high-impact practices -- "transformative" teaching strategies which, while effective and "deeply rewarding" for students can be "exhausting ... labor intensive ... all consuming and energy-draining" for instructors.

  • The post reviews "some of the predictable hazards" and offers suggestions for "manag[ing] [high-impact practices] more effectively and avoid[ing] burnout":

1. "Be realistic about the scope at the outset." 

  • "To preserve your energy, schedule just one — or at most two — courses that are high impact."

2. "Grade selectively." 

  • "Students will thrive without having intensive feedback on every single thing they do in your course."

3. "Use rubrics." 

  • "[C]reat[e] a grading rubric upfront, and ... save yourself a lot of time later on."
  • "[T]he rubric ... will clarify your expectations and improve the caliber of students’ work, since they know what you’re looking for."
  • "Better work is easier to grade."

4. "When you can, use digital shortcuts."

  • "Create a cheat sheet of common suggestions and notes you make on student work, and then copy and paste those comments into the online feedback you’re providing."
  • "Stock sentences can be imported for papers that demonstrate similar shortcomings."
  • "You can speak faster than you write, so explore opportunities to provide audio feedback, too.

5. "Tailor how you offer feedback." 

  • "Ask students for a candid assessment of whether or not they actually read the comments you write on their essays." 
  • "[D]on’t belabor formative commentary for students who aren’t going to take advantage of close attention to their work."
  • "Provide a grade and perhaps a general comment, and save your energy for those who are more likely to make efforts to improve on the basis of your feedback."

6. "Stagger deadlines." 

  • "Encourage students to sign up for different submission times."
  • "For example, if student presentations and corresponding papers are part of the plan, ask students to submit papers a week after their assigned presentation time."
  • "With advance notice of the scheduling and opportunities to pick the deadlines that will work best with their own schedules, students are far less likely to complain that some people had an unfair advantage by having more time."

7. "Involve students in grading." 

  • "To discourage the loafers, obligate students in group projects to evaluate how much each member contributed." 
  • "At a minimum, students should rank the relative value added to the group process by each group member." 

8. "Ask students to reflect on the experience." 

  • "A student’s favorable comment about a life-changing experience in your classroom can bolster your claims of distinguished teaching performance come promotion time, as well as illustrate the good work being done in your department as a whole."
  • "Rereading meaningful comments from students can get you through the inevitable bad days."

9. "Play the HIP card with your department chair." 

  • "If your institution or department has declared HIPs a high priority, use that to your advantage."
  • "Present a defensible proposal, then lobby your chair to grant you preferred teaching times and honor your scheduling requests."

10. "Make a case for additional grading support." 

  • "If writing-intensive courses are important to the institution, it can be argued that institutional resources, such as funds to pay grading assistants, should be invested with those instructors who can document their need."

11. "Lobby for the weighting of HIPs in personnel decisions." 

  • "If students benefit from these efforts, why shouldn’t professors?"
  • "If you are making extra effort to work with students off campus, for example, ask your community partners to write letters on your behalf that can be used at evaluation time.":

12. Encourage administrative acknowledgement.

  • Often, "[t]he faculty member, whose teaching style may have been the deciding factor, goes unrecognized and unrewarded."
  • "[I]f you’re a chair or a dean, by all means recognize and reward faculty members who use HIPs for going the extra mile."
  • "[F]aculty members could have just as reasonably taken a low-impact course of action in their classrooms."
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