Are Students Ready for a Change in the Teaching Approach?

I have been discussing that the traditional approach in which classes have been taught for decades needs to be changed. However, I have not considered the student’s reaction when facing new approaches. I assume that all these new ideas will be a complete success. Nevertheless, they would probably be a complete failure at the beginning. Why? Because we cannot change the world in one day. Similarly, we cannot make all the changes in the class at once. We should do it step by step, like a baby when he/she is learning to walk. One step at a time.

From a student perspective, it is not easy to get out of the comfort zone. That’s why I believe, at the beginning, students would be reluctant to try new things. Students won’t be 100% engage in the activities. Why? Because they are not familiar with these new ideas. They will not feel comfortable in this active learning environment because they will not be able to anticipate the outcomes. They rather will have, sometimes, to improvise. Make mistakes is not something that they feel good about it. It is hard to try to change the misconception that grades are all that matters. Students hate when they make mistakes.

I have a very committed student in the class this semester. I know that he understands very well all the topics. He always works in class and in all the assignments. Unfortunately, he makes small mistakes on the exam and assignments that affect his grades. This really upset him because the grades do not reflect what he knows. For me, this is not a big deal because I know that he will get a good great at the end of the semester. One day, he was very disappointed because of the mistake that he made in one of the assignments that I actually helped him.

This is a part of what he wrote me:

“I am just frustrated I forgot to press one button and it threw everything off, especially after you helped me find the other issue I was having”.

This is what I replied him: “Don’t worry about it! What really matters is that you understand what you are doing. Do not feel disappointed. Keep up working hard. I make mistakes all the time. In my case, this how I learn. At some point, I understood that it is ok to make mistakes. I am pretty sure that you are not going to forget re-scheduling a project again”. At the end, he really appreciated what I told him. As professors, we need motivate students!

Please do not give up and keep trying. Roma was not built in one day. One step at a time! We can make the change! It would take time but at the end, it will be worth. The learning environment should change and adapt to today’s generation and world.

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