The comment that caught my attention from the second assigned reading of Student Engagement Techniques was from chapter 6, “From Theory to Practice”. The quote is “[y]ou have to reach out to students. You can’t wait for them to reach out to you. The good students always have and always will reach out, but the struggling students don’t know how to make the first move.” (Barkley, 2009, p. 73) This is a powerful comment that instructors need to find ways to reach the struggling students, because these students don’t have the confidence, or skills to ask for help.
I identify with the quote because I was the struggling student who never asked for help or clarification. As an instructor I see it in my classes. Most of the questions I get asked are from strong students. They are comfortable asking questions and can express themselves. Even when ask weaker students one on one if they have questions they will often say they are fine. Even when I see they are struggling. If students, I am asking directly would acknowledge they need help then I need find new ways of reaching out to the struggling student.
The insight I get from the quote is that reaching struggling students is an important responsibility of teaching and there is not one answer for every student. In looking for an answer to my question I found two with techniques I can try in my classroom. The first is Encouraging Positive Student Engagement and Motivation: Tips for Teachers suggested using classroom assessment techniques to reach-out. The second, Reaching the Hard-to-Reach Student. The stuggling students how do not ask for help even when it is offered to them may not feel comfortable speaking with me or having others in the class seeing me talk with them. They might be more comfortable writing out their questions. (Watkins, 2018) By using CAT’s I can ask more direct questions to check their understanding and not single people out. Pete Watkins mentions using the muddiest point or paraphrasing the main points.
Reaching the Hard-to-Reach Student has equally simple ideas that can be implement in my classes now. The author suggests using reinforcing vocabulary with information and examples that “will help build concepts the students can use…” (Modenback, n.d.) Another suggestion I find useful is to reach out on a personal level. Giving them reminders of assignments and assessments. Finally, reminding students of their goals. Why are they taking accounting? Or in the business program? (Modenback, n.d.) Having stronger students work with weaker students. Helping the stronger students can help weaker students understand how to read problems and isolate the necessary information. (Modenback, n.d.)
I can implement most of these ideas in my classes immediately to help students how are struggling to finish the semester. I teach in an English as a foreign language environment and not all my students are good English writers, because of this I would start with the muddiest point classroom assessment technique. This will require students to only write a few words. I try an use the plainest language I can but in accounting there are a l to of new terms for the students to learn. To help reinforce the new terminology I try to use the same terms that students see in the textbook and in questions. Reaching out to students with reminders of assignments due dates and reminders of their goals is a good technique to create a link with the students so they know I am available to answer their questions. At the beginning of the semester I can do a better job of setting the tone in my class and getting students to work in pairs more often as well as finding out why they are in accounting. It is encouraging to be able to find suggests that can be implement without a lot of disruption or preparation.
Barkley, E. F. (2009). What Does Student Engagement Mean. In Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (pp. 3-15). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
Modenback, K. (n.d.). Reaching the Hard-to-Reach Student. Retrieved from Education World: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr412.shtml
Stephens, T. L. (2015, August 21). Encouraging Positive Student Engagement and Motivation: Tips for Teachers. Retrieved from Pearson: https://www.pearsoned.com/encouraging-positive-student-engagement-and-motivation-tips-for-teachers/