How to make the classroom more engaging? How to induce more participation of students?
Sanjoy Mahajan‘s course “Teaching college-level science and engineering” has a lot of excellent wisdom to make learning active and effective: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/chemistry/5-95j-teaching-college-level-science-and-engineering-spring-2009/video-discussions/
Setting the expectation
- From the very first class set the tone. Explain why we want to do this, ask questions, do discussions, …
- Veritasium video (you are supposed to be confused) and this is essential for learning something new, bloodletting comment by Nobel laureate, …
- Become comfortable with long silence. Be willing to wait full minute or more until students participate.
- Try to radiate(?) excitement and enthusiam.
- Always encourage questions and praise participations.
- Pose interesting challenges that are not trivial but tricky and challenging. They should be able to arrive at the answer (or many possible answers) but not easily. In other words, we should identify really interesting and tricky questions that most students got confused.
- It can also be an experiment, competition, or activity.
- e.g., draw a histogram by hand with this data -> there are several tricky elements in the data.
- e.g., an activity where students fight for the top centrality score in a network of students. Each of them are given with x number of incoming/outgoing edges. They need to strategize and negotiate with each other.
- Prepare a punchline explanation afterwards.
- In every class, shuffle the students and let them introduce & talk with the group. Prime them for the group discussion.
- Randomization can also break the habit, from where each student sit to with whom they pair up. Just making someone sit in front can make them participate more.
- When posing a challenging question, give some time to think about the problem alone.
- If possible, make students commit to an answer, raising the stake. High stake nudges them to invest more.
- Pairing works well after they take a position. Ask everyone to convince the other ppl in the group.
- Sharing works much better after having think-pair.
- Use videos and other materials (e.g., derivation of an equation) and use classroom time to test that (e.g., can you calulate this based on what you studied?)
- Arrive 15 minutes early. It’s a strong message that shows you care. You can have informal conversation.
- Immediate and continuous feedback.
- fast, flexible, and scalable feedback on teaching with end-of-class micro surveys
- I like how Gary King emphasizes the “engage in the collective experience” and “we learn better collectively”
- How I learned to teach like a scientist