Engaging students

Students listeningLearning becomes fun and interesting through engagement with peers and knowledge.

  • Consider creating productive dialogue by asking and inviting questions throughout the lectures.
  • A variety of activities within a lecture and within a unit of study helps to keep students active and engaged.
  • While planning is important, it helps to be prepared for the unexpected. Students may interpret material and experiences in unexpected ways.
  • Students often need to find a reason to participate in class. Consider testing what they still need to learn and lecture to that gap in their knowledge; share material generating an emotional response and invite participation; or help students to develop a reasoned opinion they will want to defend.
  • Encourage students to learn with their peers. Using small groups and pairs in class creates a break in listening and develops a sense of belonging for students.
  • Integrate workplace activities and experience to motivate students to participate and take responsibility for their own learning.

Why

Asking their own questions gives students a compelling reason to listen to the lecturer.

Every teaching event is unique. Plans may need to change in response to how the Unit of Study is unfolding and responding to the material.

People learn best by teaching others. Allowing students an opportunity to explain concepts and theories to each other will support their learning more than listening to the explanation from the front.

Examples

  • Consider treating a large lecture room as a small room - move around the room, talk to students one-on-one during break-out groups, and encourage interaction between students by setting up clear tasks for them to do together.
  • Encourage students in pairs or small groups to identify a question they most would like the lecturer to answer. Answers can be posted on an online discussion board or addressed in the same or next lecture. Students benefit from knowing when answers will be available and how the lecturer will choose questions to answer.
  • Asking student groups to make a choice from a limited list of options and then sharing those choices by simultaneously reporting will usually generate lively discussions and questions even in a larger class.
  • Ask the students what they would want a lecture to look like. Give time in tutorials or lectures for students to generate a plan for the ideal lecture and use the best suggestions. Identifying ideas that came from the students in class will strengthen the rapport with students. Also explaining why some of the suggestions cannot be incorporated allows students to understand the lecture process better and still feel their contribution was valued.