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    Engaging students

    Engaging students

    Many students complain that tutorials and lectures are boring and ineffective. Many teachers in fact agree that simple ‘chalk and talk’ is not the most effective way to teach, but they may be looking for alternatives for engaging students in their classes.

    Engaging students

    Three effective ways of engaging your students are using a variety of learning activities, varying your lecture techniques, and improving your questioning skills. The following sections provide some useful guidelines for all three.

    Learning activities in class: Consider using any or all of the learning activities set out in the figure below.

    Learning activities in class

    Varying your lectures: You can aim for more creative ways to organize your lectures. For example, you could:

    • Set a question, problem, or paradox at the beginning of a lecture, or tell the first part of a story. You can ask students to try to answer the question/solve the problem/finish the story, or do so yourself as the lecture goes on.
    • Work together with students to generate lists of pros and cons on a topic.
    • Model a process or skill. You can begin a lecture by modelling the analysis of a text, artwork, mathematical problem, etc., then give students an example to work on, and then provide them with feedback.

    Improving your questioning strategies: Asking questions is perhaps the most basic but effective way of engaging students in the class. And yet all of us who teach have the experience of raising a question in class and not getting what we expected. It can be helpful to think about some different types of questions, and how best to use them.

    Improving your questioning strategies

    Here are some strategies for planning your use of questioning in your classes:

    • Consciously distinguish between lower-level questions (asking students to recall, understand, or apply) and higher-level questions (asking students to analyse, evaluate, or synthesize).
    • If students can’t answer a higher-level question, drop to the lower level to establish what they know and understand.
    • Use higher-level questions to encourage students to push their thinking, to encourage discussion, or to motivate them to try to solve a problem on their own.
    • Be aware of, and vary your use of, open and closed questions. Remember that closed questions are not necessarily lower-level, and vice versa!

     



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