1 Set expectations for the Canadian classroom

Learning Objectives

By the time you finish this chapter, you will be able to

  • Describe the information you will find on a course outline/course presentation
  • Define continuous assessment and explain how it affects you as a student
  • Explore how a typical Canadian university class might be organized

Understand Your Course Presentation

On the first day of every KPU class, you will receive a document called a course presentation.  It is prepared by your instructor, and it is like a “map” for the learning journey ahead.  A course presentation explains:

  • Course Learning Objectives:  Learning Objectives describe the knowledge and skills that you can expect to gain in the course.
  • Assignments and Exams:  Your learning in a course may be measured through individual or group written assignments, oral presentations, exams, reflection activities, and course participation, among other things.  The course presentation will tell you how much each assessment is worth, and when the assessment will take place (ie. when the assignment is due or when tests will be given).
  • Tentative Schedule of Topics:  This typically includes a list of readings and discussion topics for each week of the course.  Use this schedule to organize your weekly reading.
  • Policies:  This section of the course presentation includes Kwantlen Polytechnic University policies regarding class conduct, evaluation, testing, late assignments, and plagiarism are observed for all courses.  Everyone at KPU must comply with the policies laid out.

Assessment at Canadian Universities

In the Canadian university system, you will usually be evaluated with continuous assessment.  This means that assignments, projects, tests, and exams will be given throughout the semester.  Usually, the final exam in the course is worth no more than 30% of the total course grade.  This means that it is important to start off the semester on the right track, as your final grade begins to develop right from the beginning of the course.  Be sure to take note of all assignments, and make a plan to complete them on schedule.

The Canadian Classroom

In many courses, instructors will use methods that are student-centred, and that use active learning.  This means that you should expect to work in groups with your classmates, and contribute your ideas by actively participating.  The structure of the Canadian classroom often means that you will not find all of the needed information by reading the textbook alone, and that making class attendance a priority is crucial to your success.  Participation in a university class may include:

  • Completing reading assignments before class so that you are able to contribute to class discussions.
  • Discussing answers to questions in class with a small group of fellow students, or participating in a discussion circle.
  • Actively listening and writing down important ideas.
  • Working with classmates to complete an in-class activity assigned by your instructor.
  • Completing formal or informal quizzes.
  • Posting responses to questions on an online forum.
  • Completing problem sets from your textbook or online.

At KPU, you can expect to be in a class of 35 students or fewer, and you can expect to get to know your instructor and classmates.

In the chapters that follow, you will learn more about how to how to develop a good relationship with your instructor, and how to use active and independent learning methods that support the structure of Canadian university classes.


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Preparing for the Canadian Classroom by Kwantlen Polytechnic University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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