All too often, ‘learning’ is synonymous with students being disinterested, bored, uninspired and disengaged. Although there are many distractions that can draw students’ attention away from subject content (such as smartphones, other technology and social media), there are also many great techniques that educators can use to better engage students in learning.
1. Provide them with something
In many cases, students are now provided with few tangible resources. Although many resources can be easily accessed online, many students appreciate having training materials and printed resources that they can readily and easily access – with the information that they need right in front of them in black and white.
To more effectively engage your students in their learning, give them a document such as a printed booklet in which they can write notes, highlight and identify important points, and place markers in pages. Your students will be impressed by the product they receive and, if you show that you take learning and quality course materials seriously, your students are more likely to also give their best efforts.
There are many professional companies such as The Print Group (www.theprintgroup.com.au), which can take care of printing your training materials, so don’t be afraid to outsource bigger orders.
2. Explain clearly
To students, clear, well-paced explanations are vitally important. Many students say that they are more inclined to attend classes, listen and remain attentive, if the educator gives clear explanations and does not talk too fast.
Remember that students may be trying to make notes from what you are saying, so speak clearly and at a pace that allows students to process the information and record key details.
3. Have clear learning objectives
One of the very best pieces of advice for educators is to know the outcomes you want students to achieve, and know these before you start to deliver the course. The outcomes for the course will help to determine the assessment methods and teaching approaches that are most appropriate and effective.
4. Humour helps
You will probably not be surprised to learn that humour is one of the key behaviours for capturing and increasing the attention of students in class. If you can make your classes dynamic and entertaining, while using effective presentation techniques and plenty of light and shade in your voice, your students are bound to get more from your classes.
5. Connect learning to real life
In this day and age (perhaps more than any other), learners have a thirst for knowing how their learning will be relevant and applicable to the real world and their real lives. Assisting students to draw out these connections is valuable and, if you take the time to create assessment tasks that are associated with current or future activities, you will almost surely find that your students are much more engaged and interested.
It’s important for students to feel engaged and connected if their learning is to be meaningful. Explore ways to better engage your students and you are likely to notice the benefits when these are put into practice.