Category Archives: Teaching Tips & Strategies

Combined Academic and Vocational Education Leads to Success

Image courtesy of t0zz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of t0zz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nearly 60% of students entering community colleges aren’t prepared to take college-level vocational or educational classes and require non-credit remedial courses in math, reading, and writing before they can start on their vocational or academic degrees. Taking months, or even years, of high school-level courses in these subjects before being able to advance to credit courses and start working towards their credentials extends the time and money it takes for students to complete their degrees. The frustration and discouragement this often leads to is apparent in the completion rate: only about a quarter of students who start out taking remedial courses complete a degree in eight years.

Washington community colleges are combating this drop-out rate with their innovative program called I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training), which offers credit courses that teach basic math, reading, and writing skills alongside the technical skills students will need once they complete their credentials. Areas in which colleges offer I-BEST programs include accounting, business clerical skills, information technology, nursing, and academic transfer, among others. In I-BEST, students are taught basic academic skills that they will use in their chosen careers in the context of how they’ll be used on the job. There are two instructors in each I-BEST course: a basic-skills teacher and a subject expert. The basic-skills teacher lectures on the subject area for the first part of class, then the students immediately go to the lab portion of class where the subject expert teaches job procedures, applying what students have just learned in the lecture. The program has been replicated by colleges in 29 other states.

I-BEST has proven to be highly beneficial in the following ways:

Accelerated the speed at which subjects are taught: Many students don’t need an entire semester or year of remedial coursework, only strengthening in certain areas. I-BEST fills the gaps in students’ skills by concentrating on what they need to know for their career paths. In addition, the direct connection between academic work and job skills improves retention of learned basic skills knowledge.

Increased likelihood of earning a vocational or academic degree: Taking non-credit remedial courses can cause a financial strain, as many students may run out of money for credit courses before completing their credentials or even taking a single credit course. I-BEST offers basic skills intermingled with career courses for credit, allowing students to take the courses they want from the beginning. It also lays out a clearer pathway for what courses to take in order to complete a credential or work toward a degree. As a result, over 80% of I-BEST students have completed their credentials or returned for another quarter.

Produces long-term economic benefits: Students who have completed at least a year of college-level classes and earned a credential obtained better jobs and saw a significant increase in earnings.

Labyrinth Learning’s Payroll Accounting, 2nd Edition combines case studies, concepts, and hands-on exercises, both in text and in our new Homework Grader feature in eLab, to teach students the theories and practical skills of payroll accounting. Contact us to learn more about how this and our other Business and Accounting solutions can help your students to succeed in their careers.

 

Things You Should Know about Teaching Millennial Students

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Millennial students have been described in many ways. In one text, “Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation,” the authors describes millennial students with the words “team-oriented, pressured, confident and achieving.” When teaching millennial students, taking these descriptive adjectives into account can help you devise strategies to specifically target their minds and enhance their learning.

Some examples of strategies often found effective when teaching millennial students include:

Encouraging plenty of student-faculty contact
Many millennials grew up with involved, interested parents. They tend to learn best from instructors with whom they feel a connection. Including personal experiences in your lectures will make you, and your lessons, more relatable.

Include plenty of teamwork
Millennials grew up working in groups, and they are adapted to learning in this manner. Allow them to collaborate from time to time. You’ll be amazed at the ideas they can generate when allowed to discuss and interact with one another.

Offer detailed feedback
Millennial students are driven and goal-oriented, but in order to keep your students motivated to continue achieving, you’ll need to provide them with adequate feedback. There’s no need to stroke their egos, but do tell them where they have succeeded, and what they can do to improve.

We offer efficient software to make multimedia learning more approachable for both students and instructors. Contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our materials, which will greatly help you teach your millennial students more effectively.

How Teachers can Improve Student Digital Literacy in Changing Demographics

digital literacy testing for students
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These days, many students are connected to the Internet and to technology nearly 24 hours per day through their smartphones. The use of this technology is changing the way students learn and the way instructors need to think of digital literacy testing for students.

It’s common for instructors to assume that because many of today’s students have grown up with technology, they are naturally digitally literate. However, this is not always the case. Just because students are immersed in technology doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to use it effectively. In order to enhance education, instructors should identify skills to enhance students’ use of their devices. They should also focus on teaching the benefits, dangers, and opportunities that come with today’s technology.

Digital literacy testing for students often indicates that they need help learning to use their devices to enhance learning. To raise digital literacy, instructors could teach:

  • How to use their devices to take notes and keep them organized
  • How to distinguish between reliable and non-reliable sources online
  • How to more effectively use search engines to find information
  • Strategies for protecting their privacy when using their devices

Teaching technology has moved away from teaching students how to turn on and navigate their devices and on to more detailed, specific topics that allow students to make the most of technology and use it responsibly.

We are committed to helping students learn and instructors teach. Our team invites you to contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our software.

Effective Ways to Assess Student Learning

assessing student learning
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When most instructors think about assessing student learning, what often comes to mind are tests, quizzes, and assignments. While these are certainly useful tools for motivating students to learn the material and for assessing student learning, there is another method to consider integrating into your approach.

Students generally begin a course with very little knowledge of a topic. They’re aware of the fact that they know very little. When the course has finished, they’re much more knowledgeable, but it’s hard to determine exactly how much they have learned — or which topics they learned well, and which are still unclear.

One way of assessing student learning is to ask a series of questions early in the course, and then repeat that same series of questions at the end of the course. By comparing the before-class and after-class answers, you can determine exactly which topics students learned well and which are still foggy.

To implement this method, you’ll need to start by outlining the key concepts of your course. Ask several big-picture questions about each topic that you feel will effectively evaluate whether a student understands that topic. Administer this assessment at one of the first classes, and again at one of the last. You could also choose to use this approach on a topic-by-topic basis. Ask a series of questions before each unit and again after each unit.

For more information regarding our student learning solutions, we invite you to contact us at Labyrinth Learning today.

How You can Help Your Students Learn to be Professional

helping students learn to be professional
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The transition from student to professional life is one that many young adults find difficult. By helping students learn to be professional, you as an instructor can help ease this transition. If your students at least know how to act and work in a professional setting, adapting to the other changes that come with the transition from college to working life will be easier.

Many instructors assume they are helping students learn to be professional by setting deadlines for assignments, setting attendance policies and including group projects in the curriculum. However, there seems to be a disconnect. Students do not always realize that these policies are in place in order to prepare them for working in professional settings. They assume that the challenge of working with non-contributing individuals on a group projects is unique to school, when it will really prepare them for when the same situation arises at work.

The secret to helping students learn to be professional is sharing your reasons behind your policies:

  • Tell them that the reason they’re not allowed to skip class is that they won’t be able to do so when they get jobs.
  • Let them know that the struggles of group work will not disappear after graduation, and the projects they’re completing will teach them how to handle it.

We offer software solutions to prepare your students for the workforce. Contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our products and how they can help simplify the experiences of teaching and learning.

Important Misconceptions Students have about Learning

misconceptions that students have about learning
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In order to get the most out of their education, students need to be able to learn efficiently and in a way that encourages them to retain the material, rather than simply forget it once the test is over. Understanding some common misconceptions that students have about learning will assist you in designing a curriculum and teaching style that fights these misconceptions and results in well-educated, prepared students.

Misconception #1: Knowledge is just a slew of facts.

A common student misconception about learning is that building knowledge is about learning more facts. In reality, knowledge is being able to tie these facts together, see how they relate, and understand their deeper meanings. Making sure you explain how individual concepts are related to one another will help break through this misconception.

Misconception #2: Natural talent, not hard work, makes someone good at a subject.

Provide your students with feedback throughout the semester, letting them know that their work is paying off and that they’re improving. They’re not just naturally talented; they’ve been putting forth effort to succeed.

Misconception #3: You can learn effectively while multitasking.

This common student misconception about learning is quite detrimental. Student think they learn well while also doing other things. Set policies, such as no texting during class, to encourage them to focus on the singular task of learning. They’ll find they have an easier time absorbing the material.

We invite you to contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn about our accounting software for college students.

Helpful Strategies for Improving Student Attendance

improving student attendance
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As an instructor, you know better than anyone that good class attendance is essential for students’ success. Convincing students to attend class, however, is not always easy. Here are a few strategies for improving student attendance:

Giving Unannounced Quizzes

Administer a few (3 – 5) unannounced quizzes throughout the semester and make them worth a potion of your students’ overall grade. This will prevent students from missing class — they won’t want to miss out on the quiz grade. Make it clear that these quizzes cannot be made up if a student is absent.

Contact Students Who are Absent

If you have students who are missing class more than once in a while, send them an email. Express concern about their poor attendance, and encourage them to attend more often in order to improve their performance. Knowing that you’re aware of their absence is often enough to drive them back to class.

Don’t Post Handouts Online

Pass out handouts that explain helpful concepts, but don’t post them online. This way, students must attend class in order to obtain this vital information.

Keep Class Interesting and Morale High

If students like attending class, they’ll keep coming. Almost any topic can be made more interesting by including discussions in classes and making an effort to relate the concepts to daily life and real world situations.

Contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn about our teaching software that’s useful for improving student attendance while making the learning process easier.

How to Effectively Improve Student Group Work

improving student group work
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Having your students work in groups is a great way to promote teamwork and problem solving skills. While educating your students is your priority, promoting teamwork is incredibly important as it is a skill that everyone needs in life in order to succeed. The following are a few tips for improving student group work:

  • Emphasize the reason for group work – Before you begin forming your groups, make sure that your students understand why the task is to be done in groups instead of on an individual basis. Students often think that group work is a way to avoid having to teach the class or make grading easier – dispel this notion immediately!
  • Teach students how to work in groups – Students often don’t know how to work in groups. Provide information on how each member needs to take responsibility and how they should relinquish individual priorities or goals for the favor of group goals.
  • Provide reasonable work and clear goals – Obviously, the task should be bigger than a single individual can complete, but you don’t want students to struggle in completing their assignment either. Make sure the goal is clear as well so that the groups know what they are working toward.
  • Provide class time – It can be difficult for students to schedule meetings outside of class. Provide class time for groups to meet.

These are some tips for improving student group work. For additional effective teaching advice, be sure to contact us at Labyrinth Learning today.

How Using Attendance Questions Enhances Learning

attendance questions for students
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Checking attendance is a regular routine that bores both teachers and students. Going down the list of students in your class while you listen for “here” or “present” doesn’t exactly set a great tone for the rest of your class. So, why not provide attendance questions for students instead?

Ask a question and then go through your class, allowing everyone to answer. Not only are you doing attendance, but you’re giving the students something more interesting to do. This also helps get them thinking and build their confidence, as it gives students who normally don’t speak up in class a chance to say something at the start of the day.

There are a number of questions that you can ask. For example, ask what the pet peeves of your students are. This is a great question as it will most likely elicit a lively discussion. It gives students a chance to get some complaints off their chest. Or ask about an early memory in order to get your students to self reflect. Just be sure to ask questions that won’t take too long to answer. You want to create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable sharing and speaking up, but you don’t want to take half a class period to do so. Toward the end of a semester, you could ask what their favorite attendance question was.

Use attendance questions for students to enhance learning and contact us at Labyrinth Learning today for additional strategies for teachers.

What is Your Learning Philosophy?

learning philosophy
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As a teacher, odds are pretty good that you have both a specific teaching style and a teaching philosophy. The style of teaching that you employ is most likely something innate, whereas your teaching philosophy has developed over the years with experience and education. However, what about your learning philosophy?

You’ve probably heard about the different learning styles of students. Some students are better visual learners, while others need to read the content in order to learn it – no matter how much attention they pay during lectures. But a learning philosophy is something that should affect your teaching philosophy. It’s your beliefs about learning, after all.

There are a number of things to think about when figuring out your learning philosophy. This includes asking yourself if learning can be taught to be loved by students who dismiss it, if students that have to work harder have less intellectual ability or if they are just less able learners, if students can be taught the same material twice if they didn’t learn it the first time, and if all students can learn the content that you are teaching. By crafting a well thought learning philosophy, you can improve your teaching philosophy and better promote learning in your classroom.

You should think long and hard about your beliefs regarding learning in order to craft your own personal learning philosophy. For additional classroom teaching resources, we invite you to contact us at Labyrinth Learning today.