Instructors often spend a great deal of time designing and grading assessments and administering surveys aimed at objectively measuring student learning. Though such objective assessments are necessary, don’t lose sight of the value of asking students to consider what THEY are doing to achieve success in the course.
We’ve all had students ask, “Why did you give me this grade?” as if they played no role in the outcome. A better question might be, “Why did my work warrant this grade?” or “What can/should I do differently next time?” Students may not even think to reflect on how their own actions facilitate or impede their learning; a few well-timed questions could encourage them to think more critically about themselves as learners. Consider asking questions like these:
- How much time are you putting into your preparation each week?
- Do you do readings in advance of the classroom presentation/discussion?
- Do you participate in discussion?
- Do you give the contributions of other students your serious attention?
- Have you talked to the instructor on a one-on-one basis?
- After your most recent exam, did you reconsider your study strategies?
Challenging students to reflect on and take responsibility for their learning helps focus their energies in a productive and mature direction.
Much of this information comes courtesy of Professor Jean Givens; contact her to learn how she uses this technique in her classroom.