Student Engagement

Week 8 focuses on maintaining student engagement in class. The Hardison article about setting the stage and creating a hook for students talked about the importance of student interaction and direction in the learning process. Hardison stresses the importance of the “lure” to get students acquainted with a particular topic or subject. While I like this approach, I disliked certain parts of Hardison’s assignment in the article. The approach he uses as an example has the class divided into two teams to analyze an excerpt from a book and present a live performance to depict it. I think that maybe this approach could work for extroverted students who take the lead and enjoy the dramatic approach. On the other hand, this activity may prove to be less effective for students who are shy or introverted, as with the large group sizes and performance they may feel less inclined to participate. Hardison states that “every student must participate somehow” even if in minor background roles. While students are interacting with the material and taking part in their learning process, there could be some benefit to giving students the option to present or submit this assignment in a different way.

The Mann article regarding how 60% of students find their lectures boring also expands upon the idea of student engagement. Mann focuses mostly on teaching through PowerPoint in a conventional lecture. He says that mundane lectures also can extend to lab days and computer sessions, which do not break out of the constraints set by the teacher. He suggests using less information, having “color, animation, and sound” on PowerPoint slides. I think that incorporating video clips, audio recordings, and simple but vibrant slides could greatly improve teaching this way. Mann also points out that doing hands-on activities are not necessarily better than traditional lecture if non-engaging. Providing students with a mix of these approaches in a lesson may be difficult, but it would help with engagement issues. I would not spend more than 20-25 minutes on one particular approach, but instead utilize a variety of activities to break up the lesson.