Last week’s teaching tip provided you with ways to tap into your student’s emotions to activate student learning. These four principles for engaging students utilize active learning techniques in new and exciting ways. This week explores two more of these principles.
Principle 3: We are intensely social creatures.
As humans, we crave to belong to a community. It is important make sure your students feel equally welcomed and valued inside the classroom. Fostering an inclusive learning environment may seem challenging with students with varying identities and backgrounds. Use the following techniques to help establish a sense of community in the classroom.
- Learn students’ names. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it is a very powerful tool. By doing this, you are already beginning to establish a warm social climate on the first day of class.
- Make sure everyone gets the chance to contribute. Avoid calling on someone too quickly after you’ve asked a question. Waiting a bit allows other students to gather their thoughts (and courage) to participate.
- Diversify your curriculum and teaching strategies. Varying your class design will give students with different strengths the opportunity to shine. Try using a universal design. Rather than offering separate policies for students who need learning accommodations, allow all of your students to have access to policies that benefit students with disabilities. This can help build community as well!
Principle 4: Stories link bits of information into a meaningful whole.
Whatever their type or shape, tell stories! Storytelling is our most natural form of thought as it chunks information in the working memory to be encoded into long-term memory. This is why narrative structures allows for greater understanding and remembering. Your stories can be about your own experiences or historic discoveries in your field. In addition, using anecdotes from your own personal history can signal to your students that you trust them and see them as worthy confidantes.
Read more about the four principles of engagement in Sara Rose Cavanaugh’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.