5 Tips from a Recent College Graduate
By Justin Switzer
1. Less is More
When you try to get students to learn too much, the entire process can suffer. Rather than focusing on how much you could possibly give them, maybe look at your course and identify what the really important, overarching concepts are, and really hammer those home.
2. Repeat Key Points
If something is important, let the students know that it's important. I heard something recently that I liked: "Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you just told them." Stressing the importance of these concepts will not only relay their significances to the students but, by repeating them, the concepts are getting more engrained in the students' memories.
3. Provide a Safe Space
If a culture that allows for the free exchange of ideas isn't fostered, then your students will be more reluctant to put themselves out there with original ideas. Allow, encourage, and even reward risk taking in your classroom.
4. Tap Your Students' Prior Knowledge
Your students bring a wealth of knowledge and experiences to the classroom that may not be apparent on the surface. When broaching a new topic, consider polling your students to see how many may already have some foundational knowledge surrounding the topic. If not every student has that prior knowledge; perhaps the more knowledgeable ones can share with others to get them up to speed. This also encourages student-to-student and student-to-content interaction.
5. Provide Relevant Applications
Not knowing why you're learning something can be frustrating. Stating your learning objectives prior to a lesson, or simply contextualizing these new pieces of information with real-world, relevant applications will go a long way. If a student can readily see how a new piece of knowledge can be applied, it's easier for him or her to grasp the significance of the concept.