Name. Ask students how to pronounce their names and whether they prefer to be called by a nickname.
Class year/Level. First-year undergraduates and transfer students may require special attention since they are adjusting to many new expectations in a new environment.
Major. Especially in required courses taken by students across the University, you can use information about students’ majors to help you tailor your classes to student interest.
Reasons for taking the course. If many students are taking the course because of a requirement, it will probably be more important for you to pay greater attention to strategies for motivating learning and performance (e.g., stating the relevance of the course material to students’ future goals and interests). If you are a graduate student teacher in an upper-level or graduate course, the students’ interests in the course may tell you about their long-term professional goals.
Related courses – past and present. This information can help you pitch your explanations at an appropriate level, use familiar terms, and build connections across the curriculum.
Some personal background. By asking students where they grew up, their hobbies, what they like to read, or their professional goals, you can gain valuable insights about what interests them and what kinds of interaction they may prefer. This information also gives you ways of connecting with students as individuals and suggests topics for small talk or classroom humor. The information can also help you develop relevant examples that will help them learn difficult concepts.
Questions and concerns. Ask students if they have any particular questions they hope this course will answer, or any concerns about the course and what will be expected of them.