Yesterday, a local high school teacher mentioned how difficult it is to get her students to remember concepts in her class. It doesn’t matter how often she repeats her message or how many different methods she uses, her students always end up under-performing her expectations.
This problem is rampant across education at all levels including higher education. Students have a lot on their minds and zeroing in on a lecture is going to be tough. Breaking through the mind blocks students have requires effective communication.
To communicate effectively with students follow these three steps:
- Teach content
- Make your students care
- Give them a way to remember it
Nailing step one is fairly straight forward. After all, teachers teach content – that’s your job. Steps two and three, however, are usually a little more tricky so let’s explore those a little more closely.
Make your students care
Teachers are used to giving lecture about material but a lot of times it’s tough to make student’s care. Student’s that care are going to be more interested in hearing what you have to say. But if a student doesn’t care you might as well not even be communicating with them.
So how do you make them care? This one is pretty tricky, but many times if you can make the material relevant or practical its easier for students to see the point. Here are a few more ideas to help students care:
- Have an answer to the question ever teacher has heard – “Why do I need to know this?” If you’ve taught it’s guaranteed that you’ve heard this question a million times. Instead of saying because so, come up with a real legitimate reason that you can spout off quickly whenever a student asks.
- Bring in a guest speaker – Guest speakers can usually bring in outside examples of how the class material is being used in real life. Knowing the material can have a real life impact will make your student’s care just a little more.
- Have a lab – If your class is well suited for it, try having a lab. Labs are fun interactive ways that are useful for demonstrating real life applications of course material.
- Know your students – Remember you know your students best. Figure out what will relate to them and make them care.
Give students a way to remember
So now your students care about what your saying but that still doesn’t make it easy to remember what your saying. Forgetfulness is pretty easy especially considering how busy students are now-a-days. Here are a few tricks to help students remember.
- Acronyms: There’s a reason your elementary teachers used these. I still remember from second grade that “My Very Education Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” (Though I suppose the Nine Pizzas has been changed to Nuggets or something to account for Pluto no longer being a planet).
- Repetition, repetition, repetition: I am not talking about mindlessly beating information into a students brain here, but instead the slow learning that takes place when a concept is allowed to soak in over time. If a student hears a lecture, reads about it in a book, does a lab over it and then takes a test, odds are the concepts will stick.
- Appeal to all parts of the brain: Students learn through by hearing, by seeing and by touching. If you can combine all three in your teaching material it will help students remember those big concepts.
There’s three steps to will get you started. If anyone has more tips for getting students to care or helping them remember please share in the comments. Our readers would love to hear them.
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