Faculty today

Strategy bites: Advice letter


At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

 Strategy: The Advice Letter 

This reflection strategy can serve current students, future students, and instructors.

Why use this strategy?

I sometimes think: “If I’d only known then what I know now.” Unfortunately, it’s not possible to go back in time and give myself advice in order to change a future outcome. However, it is possible to give others who are about to embark on a similar journey as me that kind of advice. What if current students were able to improve future student success by offering advice based on their personal experience in a given course?

The Advice Letter is an opportunity for students to reflect on and consolidate their learning experience. It is also an opportunity to share insights with students who will take the course in the future. Reflections can be personal responses to questions such as: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the semester? What were the most challenging parts of the course? What assignments really helped you learn? When the next semester begins, these reflections might prepare the new students for what’s to come. It’s a collegial way for students to “pay it forward.”

In a way, the Advice Letter can be viewed as a type of course evaluation as it also gives the instructor the chance to see what students perceived to be most successful and what may need improvement in the course. Ultimately, establishing this bridge of communication between present and future courses encourages continuous improvement of the learning experience for both the student and the instructor.

 Would you like to know more?

 Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:

How do you get students to reflect on their learning? Share your ideas!

Jasmine Parent is an M. Sc. graduate from the program of Global and Community Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics at McGillUniversity. She is currently enrolled in the M. Ed. Technology Program at the University of British Columbia and works as an Assistant Online Course Developer at McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services. Her greatest passions include cooking and exploring healthy recipes, practicing yoga, and spending time in nature. 

Featured Image photo credit: Victor Tangerman

Jasmine Parent is an M.Sc. Graduate from the program of Global and Community Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics at McGill. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Education Technology Program at UBC and she works as an Assistant Online Course Developer at TLS. Her greatest passions include cooking and exploring healthy recipes, practicing yoga and spending time in nature.

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