Why Involving Students is Important
Sep 10, 2009 Learning Methodology 2970 Views
It's important to actively involve students in the learning process. This is generally done at the elementary level, but, in some cases, gets lost, especially in high schools. Involving students makes the subject more interesting to them. It also helps them retain the material and fosters critical thinking.
In my years as an educator, I discovered there are three teaching methods that turn students off: daily lectures, reading aloud from the textbook and watching audio-visual with little preparation or follow-up. Following are three ways to work with course materials and keep students involved and learning.
1.Alternative to Daily Lectures
For some reason, many teachers feel the need to lecture. Power point presentations have made this relatively easy. The problem is that if it is done too often students tune out or turn off.
At the beginning of the semester students will take notes and pay attention to what they are writing. After a steady diet of this, they will copy what is on the screen, paying little attention to what they write. I have talked to many students who tell me this is true. When a student tells me that all the teacher in a particular class does is lecture or they lecture every day, you can be sure the "tune out" button has been pushed.
The solution is don't lecture every day. Find other ways to deal with the material. (See step two for another way to deal with the subject.) When you do lecture, involve students. Stop and ask questions: How, Why, What, etc. Ask them to summarize the important points. One of the keys to successful teaching is asking students what they learned from a particular lesson. Keep them involved, and they are more likely to remember the material.
2Alternative to Reading Aloud
As a student teacher supervisor, one method that some teachers use that irritated me was watching students read aloud from a textbook. Most often this is done because there aren't enough textbooks for each student to have one to take home. The other excuse I heard was that many students don't or won't do homework, so this gets the material covered. If you observe the students in a class where this is being done, you will notice that the majority are not following along.
There is an alternative to textbook reading aloud. Assign students to groups. Instruct them to read the section you have assigned and write down the main ideas. You can circulate to be sure groups are on task and answer questions. A group leader can then write the major points on the board. You can discuss them, fill in missing content and tie the sections together. I have seen this work many times. Students pay attention to their peers. You have made this a class activity by involving the students.
3.Getting the Most Out of Audio-Visual
This is another activity where students will "tune out". There is a tremendous amount of audio-visual materials for any subject, but how you use them is important. I was an audio-visual consultant and developed ways to keep students interested. If you don't create a way for involving students this becomes a passive activity.
First: Be sure to introduce what you are going to show. Tie it to what they are learning. If it is long, break it up into two segments.
Second: Have them take notes or fill out a worksheet. Follow up with a discussion. This is vital if your students are going to get something out of the presentation. What did they learn? What was important? How does it tie in to the unit? These are just some of the follow-up questions you can use. Design your own.
Classroom teachers today are busier than ever. However, involving students is important to create an environment where students look forward to coming to class. It is important to the overall learning process. A few changes to lecturing, textbook reading and audio-visual presentations can help any teacher reach this goal. Keeping your classroom active and student centered helps support the entire learning process