What’s on the Agenda?: Visible Agendas Set a Positive Tone in College Classrooms

Identifying and fulfilling adult learners’ needs is critical to enhance their achievement and self-empowerment.
by LSA Learning & Teaching Technology Consultants

One of the first things people do upon arriving at a business or civic meeting is read through the agenda. Knowing what topics will be discussed helps people settle in and mentally prepare for the meeting. Think about how you feel when there is no agenda. If you visit an elementary school classroom, you will likely see an agenda of the day’s activities on the board. Agendas communicate to students that there is a plan for the day’s activities that will be conducted in an orderly fashion. Agendas prepare students for what is to come and can ease anxiety and help them focus. Often students enter the classroom with the question, “What are we doing today?” They really want to know! College students are no different and can also benefit from a daily agenda.

Identifying and fulfilling adult learners’ needs is critical to enhance their achievement and self-empowerment. When the needs of adult learners are fulfilled, it is more likely to bring about high-quality learning (Diep, et al, 2019). Adult learners want to know that the class they are attending will be relevant, which in turn, will aid in the learning process. By viewing an agenda, students will see that there is a plan for the class and when active participation will be required. Agendas also allow students to feel comfortable in the classroom environment because they know what is coming next.

To prepare students for learning, instructors should review the agenda at the beginning of class. This gives the instructor time to emphasize critical tasks and allows students to settle in and focus. It is also important to connect the learning objectives to the activities, which will help students understand how the tasks support their learning. For example, a learning outcome in history class is to “analyze primary source documents.” The instructor can connect this outcome to a group activity where the goal is for students to read, evaluate, and discuss primary sources. When students understand the agenda items are tied to student learning outcomes, they should be more invested in the activity.


The agenda can include details such as the topic or lecture, individual tasks, group work, breaks, and any deliverable due at the end of class. Include time estimates for each activity to help students stay on task and keep them from asking how much longer they have. You may find that you cannot accomplish everything on the agenda, so be prepared to make adjustments to the agenda. It will be helpful if the agenda is easy to edit and visible to the students.

The agenda should be visible to students as soon as they walk into the physical classroom or enter the remote environment. A good option is a Google Slide or Document, which are easy to edit and share electronically with students. Visit “How to Create Accessible Documents” for information about how to make your electronic agenda accessible. The agenda can be projected on the screen before class begins so students can prepare themselves for the day’s activities. Consider creating a colorful template that students will easily recognize as the agenda; they will learn to expect it before every class.

College students, much like children, like to know what comes next during class. Whether entering a physical classroom or remote classroom, a visible agenda welcomes students with a plan and helps them feel secure.




Diep, A. N., Zhu, C., Cocquyt, C., de Greef, M., Vo, M. H., & Vanwing, T. (2019). Adult Learners’ Needs in Online and Blended Learning. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 59(2), 223–253.

Ricevuto, J. (2022) Benefits to beginning class with a visible agenda. Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/course-design-ideas/benefits-to-beginning-class-with-a-visible-agenda/?st=FFdaily%3Bsc%3DFF220418%3Butm_term%3DFF220418

Lewis, N. (2015). Daily agendas: The key to organizing the classroom. Journal on Best Teaching Practices, 2 (1), 7-9.


Release Date: 09/15/2022
Category: Learning & Teaching Consulting; Teaching Tips
Tags: Technology Services
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