Changing college classrooms

7 Ways College Classrooms Are Changing To Retain More Students

Posted in Blog on 15 October 2015

With more and more students opting out of a college education, universities have begun to rethink and restructure their classes to not only attract students but retain them to complete their degrees.

Here are some of the ways college classrooms are changing the way they teach to engage and retain more students.

Get students to work in groups: Often a special assignment activity, group work is now being seen in everyday classrooms. By working in groups, educators are encouraging peer instruction and learning, ensuring everyone understands the exercise and how it is solved.

Give Short Exercises in Class: Encouraging a series of quick exercises which break up the lecture is found to help students stay focused and not “zone out” of a lecture. Additionally with lecturers acting as facilitators, students are able to quickly resolve any issues they may have in applying their learning to problems while in classrooms.

Ask multiple choice questions and display answers: By constantly assessing student understanding during classes, lecturers can quickly assess which sections need to be repeated and which have been understood. Students use handheld devices to enter their answer and the results are quickly polled on screen to give instant feedback to both the educator and the students of the learning.

Avoid the yes/no questions: While asking questions, proactive professors are getting students to answer in detail, by avoiding questions with a yes or no answer, and following up with further questions to check depth of understanding. While students often don’t like getting put on the spot, educators says it ensures students come prepared and pay attention during class.

Engage with students proactively: One of the key differences in classrooms that are showing greater results is that the professor puts the students in the center of learning. Avoiding the 90 minute lecture and instead breaking up the lesson with exercises, questions and group activities is a lot more work, but many colleges are seeing that an active role is helping students stay in college.

Assign home reading: Incorporating some of the flipped classroom elements, professors are assigning reading and some online exercises to be done before class. In a study conducted by CBE Life Sciences Education, of an introductory biology class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the more active approach intended students to think about the material. Many of the exercises were ungraded, but the instructor could tell whether students had done them.

Eavesdrop on working groups: Freeing up lecture time is helping educators roam around the classroom and eavesdrop on the conversations taking place during exercises or work groups. As a result, teachers can gain insight into how much students have learned without being subject to direct questioning.

 

Further Reading:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/education/active-learning-study.html

http://www.lifescied.org/content/13/3/453.abstract?sid=bff75fdc-d3d4-47ff-bf99-df1a396aa912

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/27/us/college-science-classes-failure-rates-soar-go-back-to-drawing-board.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

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