Understanding Students

At Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, we pride ourselves on providing a person-centered educational experience for our students. The more you understand your students, the more you can design a course that honors their diverse educational needs and goals.

Getting to Know Your Students

Saint Mary’s students are adults with busy lives, who bring a wealth of life and workplace experience to their learning. Understanding your students’ prior knowledge, experience, educational goals, and potential challenges can help you prepare a course that meets Saint Mary’s expectations for academic rigor while recognizing your students’ experience, knowledge, and goals.

Understand your students’ needs.

You can learn more about Saint Mary’s students by reading the student profile in the Student Catalog and Handbook and by browsing the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Fact Book. You can also talk to your program director and to other instructors who have taught your course to learn about your potential students. Ask about your students’:

  • Typical life situations, professional goals, or reasons for enrolling
  • Incoming knowledge from previous courses and professional experience
  • Range and types of diversity
  • Range of academic skills, such as academic writing and research

As your course date approaches, you can also get to know your students by reviewing your course roster. Doing so helps you prepare for the class size and gives you a jump-start on students’ names. You can find your course roster by following the directions below.

  1. Go to the Faculty Portal at https:faculty.smumn.edu
  2. Enter your Saint Mary’s username and password (same as Blackboard, Gmail, etc.)
  3. Choose the current semester (e.g. FA16 SGPP) from the drop-down.
  4. Select the Login button.
  5. Select the Accept button for the FERPA statement after reading it.
  6. Select Class Roster from the left sidebar.
  7. Choose your course from the Select Class drop-down at the top of the screen.
  8. Success! You can view your roster.

Rosters are available after course registration begins. Find registration dates on the academic calendar.

Meet your students where they are.

Structure learning in a way that meets your students’ abilities, experiences, and diverse needs.

  • Build flexibility and choice into assignments
  • Create learning activities that promote sharing of diverse perspectives
  • Encourage students to use Writing Center and Library services
  • Create realistic and clear expectations
  • Provide access to all handouts through Blackboard (or Engage, if applicable)
  • Build community within the course

Extra Credit

You can further explore your students’ needs by examining your course’s situational factors.