Getting students to talk about their needs
One way of getting to know your students is to ask them to fill out a short survey.
Another is to get them to interview each other, according to a semi-structured and preset schedule, with questions about their prior learning, their fears and expectations for the course, the strengths and resources they can draw upon and their anticipated needs. They can write short reports and, if possible, hand these in as a short assignment which is marked.
A third method is to ask students to draw their community maps, showing the supportive and constraining factors impacting on their studies. They should share what they draw in groups of three to six, and debrief thereafter in a plenary session.