Strategies for the final class of the semester

On the first day of class, I gave students a handout with a couple of very broad questions about the topic of the class, both to ease us into the topic and to give me a sense of how much background knowledge the students were bringing to the material.  After time for individual responses and class discussion, I had students put their names on these handouts and turn them in as part of their participation grade.
On the last day of class before we switched into student presentations on their final research papers, I gave out a similar handout, asking both the same two questions from the beginning of the semester and also a couple other questions on topics that were equally central to the class but too specialized for students to have known about coming in. 

I then handed back the handout from the first day and we had a class discussion about the takeaways from the class.  It gave me a good sense of how the students had grown and how their perspectives on the material had shifted of the course of the semester, and I think it was good for prompting reflection (though it's harder to know that).