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What’s an Empowered Student?

That was the question, followed by, “Are they students who want to take over the classroom?” “No,” I replied, “it’s about how students approach learning—motivated, confident, and ready to tackle the task.”


Creating Learning Environments that Help Students Stretch and Grow as Learners

The March 12, 2014 post raised issues about those students who really don’t want to work with others in groups … “lone wolves” as they’re called in the literature. Your responses raised a number of issues. I thought it might be worth exploring some of them a bit further.

Many of the comments defended the lone wolves, pointing out that their good academic performance could be compromised by having to work in a group. Did anyone comment about those social learners (whose existence is also well documented in the research) who do well working in groups? We require those students to spend time listening and learning alone, experiences that potentially compromise their academic performance.


Build Community, Extend Learning with Online Synchronous Sessions

Consideration of convenience and flexibility typically leads instructors and instructional designers to favor asynchronous over synchronous learning. But given the potential benefits of synchronous communication, perhaps it’s time to rethink the 100 percent asynchronous course.


Four Student Misconceptions about Learning

“Efficient and effective learning starts with a proper mindset,” Stephen Chew writes in his short, readable, and very useful chapter, “Helping Students to Get the Most Out of Studying.” Chew continues, pointing out what most of us know firsthand, students harbor some fairly serious misconceptions that undermine their efforts to learn. He identifies four of them.


Using the “Speed Dating” Model to Enhance Student Learning

The panel discussion is a valuable, time-tested teaching technique used in classrooms of all types to help students understand the experiences of a particular group of people. But it’s not effective in every situation.


Have Students Generate Content to Improve Learning

Online instructors face the challenges of keeping a course up to date, engaging students, and maintaining integrity. Having students generate some of the course content can address all three of these challenges.


Prompts That Get Students to Analyze, Reflect, Relate, and Question

A simple teaching technique that helps students learn; now there’s something few teachers would pass up! This particular technique involves a four-question set that gets students actively responding to the material they are studying. They analyze, reflect, relate, and question via these four prompts:


Recent Seminars


How the Brain Learns: Implications for Teaching and Learning

There’s much to be learned from the study of brain function that can have a profound impact on pedagogy. Recent neuroscience findings shed new light on the external and internal factors that affect acquiring, processing, and learning new knowledge. In this online seminar, two leaders in the field of metacognition will review what science now tells us about the learning process and share concrete classroom strategies and methods that are informed by that science.

Online Seminar • Recorded on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

‘What Works’ in the Messy Landscape of Teaching and Learning

The title is borrowed from text in an excellent article that challenges our use of the “what works” phrase in relationship to teaching and learning. Biology professor Kimberly Tanner writes, “… trying to determine ‘what works’ is problematic in many ways and belies the fundamental complexities of the teaching and learning process that have been acknowledged by scholars for thousands of years, from Socrates, to Piaget, to more recent authors and researchers.” (p. 329) She proceeds to identify six reasons why the phrase hinders rather than fosters an evidence-based approach to teaching reform (in biology, her field, but these reasons relate to all disciplines). “Language is powerful,” she notes. (p. 329) We use it to frame issues, and when we do, it guides our thinking.


Crib Sheets Help Students Prioritize and Organize Course Content

Most faculty are familiar with the strategy: students are allowed to bring into the exam a card or sheet of paper that they’ve prepared beforehand and that contains information they think might help them answer exam questions. I became convinced of the strategy’s value when my husband was an undergraduate. He and his engineering study buddies convened at our place the night before an exam to decide what they should put on the 4 x 6 note card they were allowed to take into a mechanical engineering course. They spent hours in heated discussion. They thought they were just figuring out what went on the card, but in fact they were sorting out, prioritizing, organizing, and integrating the content of the course. Their discussion accomplished that way more effectively than any review session I had conducted. Of course, being engineers, they decided on what they needed and then reduced the size so that when they got it on the card they needed a magnifying glass to read it.