March 13, 2018
As I attend my classes this semester, I always remind myself why I am there: to learn something new.
Despite this, I find it difficult to be engaged.
The majority of my classes are lectures, meaning that my professors will often project slides or videos to supplement what they teach.
While PowerPoint slides and videos can sometimes be the most effective way to teach lecture-based classes, this does not address the needs of students who have a kinesthetic learning style and need a more hands-on way of retaining information.
Kinesthetic learners manipulate or touch various materials to enhance their learning, according to Houghton College. Learning kinesthetically can include writing material, making visuals like concept maps and flashcards, or creating models in conjunction with visual or auditory materials, like PowerPoint lectures.
By using hands-on instruction, educators are fostering the 21st century skills that students need to be successful: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, according to Resource Area for Teaching. All of these skills are applicable and useful to every aspect of life.
For a professor, students understand that it is not always a piece of cake to put together a lesson plan, as well as making sure that students are getting their feet wet with the material. But incorporating in-class activities, like making a concept map to enhance a PowerPoint slide, would address the needs of other students.
This means that those hands-on students won’t have to relearn the material outside of the classroom by getting together with a tutor who would incorporate activities for those who learn in this way, or by trying to come up with their own strategies to understand the material and get a firmer grip on the lecture.
Without these types of activities, students who prefer more interactive activities during their classes, as opposed to those who don’t mind looking at a slide with words, can be excluded.
Students who physically experience scientific concepts understand them deeply and score better on science tests, according to a study conducted by the University of Chicago. For students who had a hands-on learning approach, the areas of the brain that controlled sensory and motor-related actions were activated when they later thought about concepts.
When I find myself in a class that is PowerPoint and lecture-based, I often think of a past professor I had. Instead of using slides with texts, or videos, she used food, or other types of materials to engage the interest of the students.
This teacher would bring in candy, and based on what colors everyone had, they would answer questions about the class material. This method helped get everyone involved.
My former professor’s hands-on method is backed up by a Purdue University study. Researchers found that students who built a water purification system themselves had a deeper understanding of the class’ concepts than students who only learned about the material in a lecture.
With both of these types of classes engaging individuals in various innovative ways, students would not only learn more, but would also remember the material better.
Classes with engaging methods are a fantastic way to teach students. As I mentioned above, it provides students with the opportunity to remember the content more.
On the other hand, with classes that are more engaging to are more likely to encourage students to participate, it’s more likely that students will want to participate.
Professors that create these innovative lessons demonstrate that the class is more about the students truly understanding the material.