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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Group work is an excellent teaching method to employ as it results in students learning how to work with others and often requires the use of problem solving skills as well. However, one of the issues with group work is that some students will let the others in their group do all the work. The following are a few effective group work strategies to avoid this issue:
Work in phases – Split a project into phases. For example, the project idea phase, the project development phase and the preliminary project outcome phase. Require your students to check in after every phase so that you ensure the work is done in a timely manner.
Allow choices – Give your students some flexibility when it comes to the topic they choose as long as its relevant to what you are covering. This will create a sense of ownership amongst the group and will make your students more engaged.
Require individual work – To ensure every student is working within the group, assign individual work relating to the overall group work. For example, you can require that everyone submits a paper reflecting on the work he or she did within the group.
Allow time for getting to know one another – Allow some time for letting your groups get to know each other. Everyone has different styles of communication and work approaches.
Make sure the course content is organized in a clear-cut, progressive manner. Ideas should be introduced in an order that demonstrates how they build upon each other. Always start with basic concepts, and build up to more advanced concepts, even if that means back-tracking to a subject that you discussed earlier on.
Find ways to have your students think critically about the material you are teaching. This will encourage them to engage and process the material, rather than just memorizing it. Critically thinking about material will help make it a part of their permanent thought processes.
Always integrate discussion into your courses. If you only include lectures and quizzes, students will simply learn the material to pass the quiz. If they are required to discuss and talk about the material, however, they will have to learn it on a deeper level. You’ll notice that, as your students adapt to discussions throughout the semester, they’ll become more skilled at learning in this way.
Labyrinth Learning provides the software and course materials you need to enhance your course content in the college classroom. Contact us today to learn more about our range of products.