How to Engage Your Students in Active Learning

Unless students participate in class discussions and submit assignments, I cannot determine whether they are actively reading and engaged in the course material when I teach an online class. In a traditional college classroom, the same is mostly true, except that a visual assessment will be possible during classroom interactions, including a class discussion. Learn How to Engage Your Students in Active Learning.

How to Engage Your Students in Active Learning
How to Engage Your Students in Active Learning

Students still conduct most of their studying outside of the classroom environment, regardless of their learning environment. It is then that the instructor can promote cognitive processing and active learning in the classroom. Below are five strategies to help promote knowledge retention and acquisition.

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Here are five ways to engage your students in active learning

1. Become an expert in your field

Describe your knowledge of the subject matter. Have you continued to learn and read about it?

As you progress in your career, it is essential to ask yourself these questions. Learning more about the subjects you teach is a good idea now. Professional organizations offer a range of professional development resources, webinars, and online courses. In addition to the assigned reading, you can find help online for the course topics. You will have a more substantial teaching presence if you become an expert in the subject matter.

2. Share Your Knowledge

You can share your professional experience and real-world examples with your students when interacting with them, whether through discussion or feedback. As students learn about new or complicated topics, this context can support their long-term retention of the information. 

The most effective way to share your knowledge is to participate in class discussions, especially when you provide additional sources. Within your career, you can highlight successful projects and strategies and those that weren’t so successful. You can also inspire your students by sharing what you’ve learned.

3. Search for additional materials

Students need classroom materials to complete the required learning activities and meet learning objectives. They are rarely if ever, intended to serve as the only source of information for the class. These include traditional textbooks as well. In your role as the instructor, you are familiar with the subject matter and may find current sources that can assist or enhance those required for your course. 

Finding additional sources merely to have more materials is not a good idea. Establishing a connection between the different sources and the course topics is essential to motivate your students to read the additional materials.

4. Be the Class Discussion Leader

The more interactivity and substantive messages your students post and interact with in class, the more engaging and meaningful it can be for you. Do they naturally do this? Sometimes, yes, sometimes no. Your students can learn from you, by example, how to post meaningful messages and interact meaningfully and substantively. 

It is essential in online classes since all students are expected to participate and be heard, but teaching students how to compose a substantive response is challenging. A practical method is to lead by example. Additionally, your active participation in the class discussion helps to keep meetings on track and allows students to feel part of the conversation.

5. Provide your students with feedback

If your feedback encourages your students to keep improving, or if they don’t continue reading, it may become uninteresting. How do you prefer it? Many other educators tell me that their students don’t seem to be reading their feedback or, if they are reading it, aren’t applying it. To involve students in the learning process, educators must find new ways to engage them. My online students have received video feedback as direct communication. No scripts are used by me either.

Learning begins with the mind

I don’t want a classroom full of students doing nothing more than reading and writing. I must be doing the same thing if they go through the motions. A degree plan only gains a box to check off when this occurs. The same is true as an educator since I did not prefer classes like this when I was a student. Those instructors who challenged me encouraged me to consider new perspectives and dig deeper into the course topics are the ones I remember best for the online class they taught. Those classes were educational and inspired me to become an online teacher.

My knowledge of the mind has grown over time, especially how it is a gateway to learning. Students are unlikely to learn the course topics solely from the course materials. While I understand I need to participate in class discussions to impart my professional insight and experience, I also feel it is essential to encourage students to consider new perspectives by bringing in additional sources and highlighting real-world concerns. 

There are a lot of competing demands on a student’s attention because they have lives and multiple responsibilities. Any class that seeks to provide new knowledge must make long-term connections in their minds. Students cannot do this via only reading materials. However, engaging instructors can help bridge this gap by assisting students in internalizing the information they read. In this way, learning is likely to occur when an instructor can reach out to students.

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