The age-old question for teachers who want to prepare their students for the upcoming school year by providing summer work is:

How can I ensure that my students complete this work?

The simple answer is – you can’t. However, teachers continue to ask this question because having a class of students that are all on the same page in terms of pre-work is ideal and is rarely – if ever – achieved.

Typically, summer work is thought of as reading and book reports. However, for teachers of Advanced Placement (AP®) Chemistry, Viziscience’s Summer Program version of their curriculum resource is truly the ideal pre-coursework.

AP chemistry summer prep course

For teachers looking for ideas on motivating their students to complete the program, here are some ideas:

  • Incentivize: Simply put, if there is no noticeable incentive for a task, students are not likely to complete it. A noticeable incentive is one whose effect is positive and will directly benefit that student. Some possible incentives are providing extra credit for its completion, making the work the first graded assignment of the year, or providing points or assignment passes for work completion that students can then choose how and when to use. It is also appropriate to offer a combination of these incentives. This summer program is high quality and will serve to set up students for success in AP Chemistry by building confidence as well as a knowledge base. Therefore, incentivizing its completion is not only understandable, but is ultimately beneficial for the students.
  • Create and Monitor a Collaboration Tool for Students: Engaging in high-level academic work over the summer on the computer, especially after over a year of often virtual instruction during a global pandemic, can feel extremely isolating for students. If students feel the work is not accessible, they might shut down. However, if students have a place to talk to each other, ask each their peers questions, vent, and collaborate, they are more likely to engage in the work. This can be done via a group chat app on the phone, some sort of social media platform or learning management system. There are apps and tools that allow students to post and respond to one another in one place. Even a simple Google Doc can be used to facilitate communication. The key with this strategy is to monitor the chat to ensure conversation remains productive and safe, and in case a question arises that stumps everybody.
  • Inform and Involve Caretakers: More than the typical elective or even core class, having the support of caretakers at home with AP Chemistry is important. When caretakers are aware of work that needs to be done, best-case scenario, they can ensure it gets done and might even be able to help their scholar complete the work. Worst-case scenario, they do not ensure it gets done – which is a more likely outcome without their involvement. It is important for caretakers to stay informed on AP subjects and tests anyway, so it is never too early for them to start to see how hard you are working as their student’s teacher to make sure their scholar succeeds.

AP Chemistry is difficult and it is intellectually taxing for students. However, with the promise of possible college credit for students who do well on the AP exam, it’s a class that might require a little extra leg work. The bottom line is you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. Likewise, you can give students the opportunity but it’s up to them to take it. Contrary to what’s just said, I believe if you spell out the benefits – how this will ultimately prepare them for success and help prevent them from falling behind in the school year, I think most AP students will want to take the opportunity especially seeing their peers doing it.