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Teaching Tip | Week 7: Refining Your Teaching

Easing Student Stress

Stress is a natural part of the classroom experience for students and teachers. At times it can feel overwhelming. For students, much of the stress revolves around projects, exams and grading. Implementing some of the following strategies can help you reduce not only your students’ stress but also your own.

What You Can Do to Help

Boost confidence:

  • Have students bring in work from the 1st week of the semester and help them see how far they have come.
  • Scaffold learning: Teach skills that build on previously learned skills so that students see how much they already know and how it all fits together.
  • Make learning meaningful: Continually make connections to the industry so they see how their hard work connects to their future goals.
  • Make your assignments clear: Make assignments as clear as possible and go over them in class so students have time to ask questions.


  • Show former student work: Showing former student work gives students a visual context for what you expect.


  • Create study guides: Give students clear, concise study guides with relevant vocabulary, concepts, etc. Or, have them create one that you add to. Go over them in class.
  • Give practice exams: Have the students take a practice exam in class. Once they have finished, break students into groups to discuss their answers. Call on groups to give their responses.


  • Use rubrics and attach them to the assignment: Create rubrics for each project/exam with evaluative criteria and specific descriptions of what “A” work, “B” work, “C” work, “D/F” work looks like. These will help guide the students in their work and keep your grading consistent.

What Students Can Do

  • Manage their time*: Suggest that they plan ahead and make a study schedule, breaking study time into chunks with set breaks.
  • Get organized*: Suggest that they have a system for note taking, keeping track of assignments, filing papers, etc.
  • Use study skills*: Have them think about what kind of learners they are (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc) and tailor their study practices to help them achieve their goals.
  • Form study groups: Encourage them to exchange phone numbers and form study groups so they can catch up on missed assignments, take class discussions further, etc. The discussions and questions that come up in study groups often lead the students to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the material.
  • Sleep: Stress the importance of getting enough sleep. Research shows that sleep deprivation affects learning and memory.

*If your students want or need help with the first three strategies, tell them to make an appointment with an ARC coach. ARC is there for every type of student, not just ones who are struggling.)

Resources and other readings:

Helping Stressed-Out Students

Reduce Student Stress and Excel in School


Study Groups and College Success

For help creating rubrics or clarifying assignments contact Faculty Development at facultydevelopment@academyart.edu


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