Last session in GEDI class we talked about learner-centered syllabus. I have been teaching a large class this semester and from the beginning of semester I think about learning process and how I can stimulate learning environment in class. The problem in a large and heavily lectured class is most of the evaluating process determines by tests. In a class such as principle of microeconomics where more than 100 students sit in a class and there is no final project, assignments and exams are only the available tools for evaluation, learning will immolate and the mindset of students become all to get good score rather than learn stuff. It makes sense and it is a rational decision for student to get the good score which means to be good in tests in this situation. I think writing a syllabus using learner-centered is not enough in this situation. The problem is even you emphasize on learning and try to give some roles to students as the learner of the class, at the end of the day students will evaluate based on their scores on tests and everyone knows this game and as a result the rational decision asserts that students just focus on materials which tend to be part of the tests rather than learning in a general way. From the early of the semester I have this challenge and I could not solve this problem yet. For me, learning is more important than the grade. I think my responsibility is to teach in a way to construct knowledge of microeconomics theory and give a chance to my student to think critically about what I teach to them. As Freire said in critical pedagogy “To teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge.” however, in a large class, teaching in a way to construct knowledge rather than transferring that is always challenging.
However, even I emphasize on learning and not memorizing a lot, students know the rule of game and the rule of game pushes them to get the best point as much as they can. For some students the shortcut to getting good points come from memorizing the materials and this strategy unfortunately works partially. I try to solve this challenge both in class and mostly during my office hour to bring examples from every day life. I also refer students to their intuitions as they ask me questions. Although these strategies work, the challenge still remains and in a heavy lecture based large class with having tests and assignment as only tools for evaluation, preparing learning community environment in class becomes a great deal.