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Engaging Students: What the Best College Teachers Do

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  1. Engaging Students:What the Best College Teachers Do Presented by Bill Stahlin

  2. 4: Seek Commitments How the Best Teachers Engage Students Six Principles for Engaging Students 1: Create a Positive, Supportive Learning Environment 2: Get Students’ Attention and Keep It 3: Start with the Students Rather than with the Discipline 4: Seek Commitments 5: Engage Students in Thinking 6: Create Diverse Learning Experiences

  3. 1: Create a Positive, Supportive Learning Environment • Devote early classes to creating a positive environment • Find out what interests students • Provide encouragement • Know students names- call on them by name (seating charts are helpful)

  4. 1: Create a Positive, Supportive Learning Environment • Be positive • Make connections using anecdotes, analogies and humor • Discover personal situations that could interfere with student learning

  5. 1: Create a Positive, Supportive Learning Environment • Connect the known with the unknown • Build bridges

  6. 1: Create a Positive, Supportive Learning Environment • Self-disclosure • Empathize with students • Accounting is challenging • ‘A cruel’ method of accounting • It is not easy to internalize these concepts

  7. 2: Get Students’ Attention and Keep It Consciously try to get attention with some provocative act, question, or statement

  8. 2: Get Students’ Attention and Keep It • Approach each class expecting students to listen, think, and respond. • Use two way conversation- requires instructor to listen – can be a poorly developed skill • Use eye contact and enthusiasm • Be willing to call on students and ask them questions

  9. 2: Get Students’ Attention and Keep It • Ask provocative questions: • When rebuilding the Exxon Valdez should the cost of a new hullbe capitalized? • Do we recognize revenue when Boeing gets an order for 10 jumbo jets? • Stand in contrast to professors whodo not : • Change course with student reactions • Expect students to listen and respond

  10. “Teaching is above all, about commanding attention and holding it - not just motivating students’ interest in the subject.” • Michael Sandel • Harvard political theorist

  11. 3: Start with the Students Rather than with the Discipline • To gain attention they start with something that: • students care about • know, or think they know • Don’t just lay out a blueprint or an outline or theory • Know the value that intellectual challenges can play in stimulating interest

  12. Who are our Students? Understanding who our students are is important in determining how to reach or engage them

  13. In surface learning, students (Bulimic Learners)remember something long enough to help them pass the exam • Jello learner – on the outside looks like the student has a firm grasp of material. When shaken (exams) their knowledge is quite wobbly Do You Recognize These Students? • Bulimic Learners – • Surface learners who remember long enough to help them pass the exam • Jell-O Learners • On the outside, looks like the student has a firm grasp of material. When shaken (exams) their knowledge is quite wobbly

  14. 3: Start with the Students Rather than with the Discipline Provide context: “With hocked gems financing him, he defied all scornful laughter that tried to prevent his scheme. ‘Your eyes deceive’ he said. ‘It is like an egg, not a table.’ Now three sturdy sisters sought truth. As they forged along, sometimes through calm vastness, yet more often over turbulent peaks and valleys, their days become weeks as many doubters spread fearful rumors about the edge. At last from nowhere, winged creatures appeared, signifying the journey’s end.”

  15. 3: Start with the Students Rather than with the Discipline • Review what was covered in last class • Have students leave each class feeling they learned something • Raise questions rather than give answers - get students involved

  16. “Too often we give students answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” - Roger Lewin, Science Author

  17. 4: Seek Commitments • Ask your students for a commitment to the class and the learning • “The decision to take this class is the decision to attend the class every time it meets” • “My decision to teach includes the commitment to offer sessions worth attending” • This is different from professors who try to rule like a drill sergeant

  18. 5: Engage Students in Thinking, Not Just Memorizing or Learning to “Plug and Chug” • Think about teaching studentsto understand, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate • Let them learn by doing, by thinking through problems • Don’t just perform problems in front of the students • Ask questions that will help students grapple with concepts and invent ways to solve the problems

  19. 6: Create Diverse Learning Experiences • The brain loves diversity - conduct class in a multitude of ways. • Sometimes offer visual information other times, auditory input • Organize some material inductively; others, deductively • Include surprises. The brain loves novelty • Offer a balance of the systematic and the messy

  20. “Materials should be uncovered rather than covered.” MIT’s ‘The torch or the fire hose’ “Material should be uncovered rather than covered.” MIT’s ‘The torch or the fire hose’

  21. 4: Seek Commitments Summary Six Principles for Engaging Students 1: Create A Critical, Supportive Learning Environment 2: Get Students’ Attention and Keep It 3: Start with the Students Rather than with the Discipline 4: Seek Commitments 5: Engage Students in Thinking 6: Create Diverse Learning Experiences

  22. The mediocre teachers tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. • William Arthur Ward

  23. Tips on Changing the Way You Teach • Performance may decrease initially - don’t be discouraged • It may be uncomfortable • Students may react negativelyinitially • You may not be pleased with the feedback

  24. References WSJ educator subscription • http://professor.wsj.com/info/2010/07/19/weekly-review/ 10 stock certificates for $12 http://www.kenmorestamp.com/railroad-stock-certificates Ken Bain lecture GWU video http://tlc.provost.gwu.edu/teaching-day-2012