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Active and collaborative learning

Student effort

Academic challenge

Student-faculty interaction

Support for learners

Small group. The 30 colleges in the 2009 CCFSSE Cohort with the highest reported percentages of class time spent on small group activities. (On average, faculty at these colleges spent a greater percentage of class time on small group activities than did faculty at other colleges in the 2009 CCFSSE Cohort.)

Colleges can capitalize on the time students spend in class by using engaging instruc- tional approaches that emphasize active learning and building connections. A faculty member notes, “We’ve moved from lecture, a teacher-centered environment, to an active student-centered environment. If you’re focused on learners … if the students do research, if they give presentations, if they are active, then [the strongest] learning occurs. We’ve formalized that.”

In-class writing. The 30 colleges in the 2009 CCFSSE Cohort with the highest reported percent- ages of in-class writing time. (On average, faculty at these colleges spent a greater percentage of class time on in-class writing than did faculty at other colleges in the 2009 CCFSSE Cohort.)

Another faculty member says, “[Early in the class,] I assign a personal writing … so students can tell people a little bit about themselves. I don’t like it when it’s week 15 and someone says, ‘I agree with that guy there.’ Do you mean Bob? So we try our best to get them to work together as a whole.”

Connections in the Classroom: More Engaging and Less Engaging Instructional Strategies

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Lecture. The 30 colleges in the 2009 CCFSSE Cohort with the highest reported percentages of class time spent lecturing. (On average, faculty at these colleges spent a greater percentage of class time lecturing than did faculty at other colleges in the 2009 CCFSSE Cohort.)

70% of faculty indicate that students oen or very oen discuss grades or assignments with them, while 46% of students say they have these conversations oen or very oen.

29% of faculty say students oen or very oen discuss ideas from readings or classes with them outside of class, as compared with 16% of students who report having these discussions oen or very oen.

CCSSE data also demonstrate that instructors’ use of classroom time may have an impact on student engagement. Not surprisingly, more time spent on interactive instructional approaches appears to increase student engagement. For example, colleges in which instructors use high percentages of classroom time for lecturing have lower benchmark scores than those in which instructors spend high percentages of classroom time on in-class writing or small group activities.

Focus group data indicate that both students and faculty members know which types of classroom practices are most eective. Indeed, students and faculty members give similar answers when asked to describe a class that works well. “I really get into classes with teachers who encourage discussion,” says one student. “It’s how good the professor is … and how engaging the conversation becomes. I know a lot of professors have a lot of material to discuss, but sometimes, the way they bring out the stories makes the students want to be more involved,” adds another.

In focus groups, faculty members say that a class that works well is one in which students are self-directed and talking with one another. For example, one instructor observes, “I put [my students] in groups. ey’re all talking to each other … . ey’re checking with each other, they’re self-sucient, and they’re able to initiate questions with me … . I’m seeing a lot of good interaction and curiosity … they’re having some fun and doing some serious work.”

Making the Most of Connections in the Classroom

Source: 2009 CCSSE and CCFSSE Cohort data.

Colleges also can build additional engagement opportunities, such as academic advising and study skills training, into the classroom experience.

12 2009 Findings

Making Connections: Dimensions of Student Engagement

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