The Need for Change
The changes in economies and the overall changes to the world over the last twenty years have clearly called for modifications in the abilities and educational requirements of university graduates. With these new demands comes the need to find innovative ways to improve the ability of students to study and teachers to teach. Teacher feedback on the work of students is a primary way by which learning occurs, especially in the development of writing and research skills. For teacher feedback to be effective, the teacher needs to be able to spend the time required with each student. This means smaller classes and more teachers, which may be the goal in many countries but hasn’t been achieved anywhere in any general sense.
A Good Education Should Be for Everyone
People with money may be able to buy their children a better education, which consists of better teachers, smaller classes and classmates equally committed to getting educated. The problem is that without money most people are reliant on the state system, which even in the best first world countries in the world such as Germany, Sweden and Australia is a system littered with obstacles to healthy learning. Governments everywhere need to take a leadership role in establishing a set of well-established standards for all disciplines, including math and science, but particularly in reading and writing, and by pumping a lot of funding into education at all levels.
Expectations at the degree level are very high in the 21st century. Tertiary education everywhere is very expensive. Most students leave university heavily in debt and spend several years of their working life paying off these debts. There is therefore increased pressure on students to do well and the standards are high. Degrees are geared toward specialization and with a set career path in mind. Gone are the days when people studied what they were interested in. People leave university now, ready for the work place. The university graduate of today is expected to have critical thinking and problem-solving methods, along with excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Methods of Effective Teaching
With these changes and expectations, comes the need for innovative ways to help university students retain what they are learning. For universities to meet this challenge, they must find a way to help students learn effectively but in an affordable manner. For some schools the answer is finding the most innovative solution and simply utilizing technology. For example, instead of teaching a maths course in the traditional manner with a textbook and a chalkboard, many are using interactive maths programs.
These programs have interactive tutorials that will assess each student’s work and capabilities. Once a student’s initial test is taken, the computer assesses the student’s results, and, if they do not pass above a certain level, they are required to use a computer program for several weeks of maths tutoring. The best part is that the course will focus on each student’s individual weaknesses in relation to their original placement test. The program allows each student to work at their own pace and gives them immediate feedback if they’ve done the problem incorrectly.
Online Homework and Grading
By automatically grading each assignment, the interactive program frees up the instructor to give additional help to students. After only a few weeks of this innovative technology, most students are ready for a university level course. According to student feedback surveys carried out, the program works well. Many schools have now designed entire computer classrooms based on this interactive technology where all homework and grading is done online. Students and professors alike both agree that this type of innovative technology positively affects student retention rates.
Core Strategies for Better Learning
One of the simpler, yet effective university student retention techniques is to utilize active learning in the classroom. Active learning focuses on the student’s participation in the classroom and the importance of teachers in the creation of an interactive environment. The idea is to remove the old premise of banking education, where knowledge is simply deposited from teacher to student only to be withdrawn at test time.
Decreasing Teacher Talking Time
To begin utilizing active learning, teachers must find activities that will excite and motivate their students. Hands-on experiments, project activities and technology are all great ways to encourage participation. If you’re just getting started, you can begin small by allowing your students to prepare the lesson they’re about to undertake. This involves the students in the education process. Learning is much more effective when the students are involved in the process, when the method is creative and challenging. Teaching talking time is decreased and student talking time is increased.
Knowledge Feels Great
Expressing your own ideas is a great way to learn because you need to explain what you’re learning and thereby what you’re learning is formulated in terms that are understandable to each student. If you’re only learning parrot fashion, then what you’re learning is formulated in someone else’s terms and means nothing or very little to the parrot. Knowledge feels great, when it’s knowledge you’ve worked out for yourself. Someone else’s knowledge merely placed in your mind doesn’t have the same sense of personalized achievement about it.
The Greatest Way to Learn is to Teach
Try utilizing a chat room for an online study night. You can log in and have a study session or a review session for a test. Be there to answer questions or discuss a certain topic that they aren’t clear on. Let everyone get involved. Allow students to give answers to other students to initiate confidence and communication and allow them to think about what they’re learning. If they have to answer the questions of their fellow students, empowerment will bring about the maturity needed to see the big picture. The greatest way to learn is to teach.
Benefiting from Cooperative and Responsive Group Work.
Assign group projects each week or study groups each week and make them mandatory but make sure you change up the groups each week for fair results and to create new interactions and encourage working with new people. Ensure that everyone has to complete one part of the project but do not penalize the entire group for one person’s incompetence. Instead, encourage them to help each other and work as a team. Do not wait until the end to evaluate them. Give them progress reports and feedback throughout the entire project so they can learn and see where they need to improve.
The Value of Small Groups
Breaking the class up into small groups gives everyone the opportunity to speak. Speaking about a subject helps us to understand the subject more completely because we are obliged to think more deeply about it in order to be able to explain ourselves to someone else. The words just come as if they’re fed from some greater power. The ability to retain the knowledge is increased dramatically when we’ve had to speak about it because it becomes a part of us in a way that parrot learning never can.