Depending on the type and size of the course, it is worthwhile for you, the lecturer, to get to know your students and for them to get to know each other. This gives you a sense of who you are working with and might help you correct your assumptions from the preparation stage. This also makes it easier for the students to discuss things or participate in learning groups. It might be wise to schedule this activity for the second or third session, once you can be sure that all the people present have decided to take the course.
In groups of up to 25 people, you can have everyone introduce themselves. Tell your students which detail to say about themselves besides their names, such as their major, their semester, or their main interests related to the topic of the course. Don’t ask any knowledge-related questions and make sure everyone keeps it brief.
An alternative to this rather classical introduction style is getting to know each other through group work. A short activity in which students discuss an image, a quote, or a definition can be conducted among groups of 2-4 students sitting near each other (whisper sessions) or – if those adjacent students seem to know each other already – in small groups of randomly assigned students. Complete this method by asking each small group for their impressions and gathering up responses rather than having each group present in turns.
It aids the atmosphere of discussion – at least in smaller groups – if everyone addresses each other by name, therefore nametags are very useful in the first few sessions. You can also ask students to include their preferred pronouns. To avoid incorrect and problematic gender assignments from the use of Mr. or Mrs., which is customary in the German university context, it is better to use the students’ first names – even while maintaining a respectful level of formality – and/or ask people to go around and say their preferred pronoun.
Version April 2017. Unless otherwise stated, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.