Engaging Students in the Classroom

In their classic article “Teaching and Learning in the College Classroom,” McKeachie, Pintrich, Lin and Smith (1986) concluded that “Our survey of teaching methods suggests that the effectivenes of teaching methods depends upon one’s goals. For the goal of factual knowledge, lectures and reading assignments are likely to be as good or better than other methods. For goals of long term retention, thinking, and motivation, less structured methods involving more student activity are likely to be superior” p. 77). This page describes several approaches that can be used in the classroom to promote active learning by students. The following topics are covered in this section:

Discussion

Discussion

“Discussion adds a personal dimension to the learning process. It stimulates students to more actively engage with the course materials. It helps students develop their reasoning and communication skills. It encourages collaborative thinking and attunes students to a multiplicity of viewpoints and perspectives. It allows an instructor to get prompt, continuous feedback on students’ understanding or misunderstanding of the course material. Above all, discussion can help students gain confidence in their intellectual abilities and learn how to evaluate a theory or synthesize ideas” (“Leading Scintillating, Stimulating, Substantive Class Discussions.”) The following resources provide information about how to effectively use discussion in your classroom:

Case Studies

Case Studies

“Case studies are have long been used in business schools, law schools, medical schools and the social sciences, but they can be used in any discipline when instructors want students to explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations” (“Using Case Studies to Teach”). The following resources provide information about how to effectively use case studies in your classroom:

Flipping the Classroom

Flipping the Classroom

The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

Game-Based Learning

Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning “uses competitive exercises, either pitting the students against each other or getting them to challenge themselves in order to motivate them to learn better. Games often have a fantasy element that engages players in a learning activity through a storyline. In order to create a truly educational game, the instructor needs to make sure that learning the material is essential to scoring and winning” (“Game-Based Learning”). The following resources provide information about how to effectively use game-based learning in your classroom:

Peer Learning

Peer Learning

“Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research” (Excerpt from Kuh, 2008). The following resources discuss how you could incorporate peer-based and collaborative learning in your classrooms.

Lecture

Lecture

Lectures have been a commonly used instructional technique for many years. New forms of technology provide faculty with new ways of engaging students while still using this method of instruction. Read more about ways you can enhance your classroom lectures.

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning

“Project Based Learning organizes learning around projects or complex tasks precipitated by an in-depth question or problem. Students, particularly in the higher education setting, are encouraged to be self-directed and the learning path becomes the curriculum as the concepts are absorbed and idea development connects itself to the outcome” (Sam Houston State University)

Classroom Assessment Techniques

Classroom Assessment Techniques

Classroom Assessment Techniques (or CATs) are used in the classroom to identify ways of improving teaching throughout the semester. The are considered formative assessment methods.  The purpose of these strategies is not to grade students and should be done anonymously. They are used by the instructor to find out if the class is learning the material. These strategies also allow students to provide feedback to the instructor before the class evaluation. Read more about different forms of Classroom Assessment Techniques.