There’s a lot of competition for the typical undergrad’s attention, even in the classroom. Their thoughts wander to weekend parties, rent money and relationship drama, among other things. It’s time to get creative to not only get their attention, but get them engaged in the lesson. Here are 5 cool strategies to keep students’ minds from drifting:
Skip the slideshow
Nothing is more boring than being talked at. There isn’t anything to motivate students to pay attention to a slideshow you’re reading to them when they can read it later on their own. Finding better presentation tools will engage the students in the lesson and let you know someone’s actually paying attention.
Just because the students are in front of you physically, doesn’t mean they are paying attention. You need to take the lesson to them. Instead of banning phones and other electronic devices, embrace them. Use social media to expand the lesson. You could use a hash tag so students can help each other, or create a YouTube channel to add videos of extra examples to solve problems.
Hit the road
Remember when you looked forward to going to school on field trip day? The same concept applies here. Field trips can help college students learn for all of the same reasons they did in elementary school. It provides a connection between what you teach in the classroom and “the real world,” and gives students a chance for hands-on learning.
Make it relevant
One of the most common questions students wonder is “How will I use this in my life?” Answering that question through examples in your lessons will make them more engaged. Some of those examples include calculating interest on student loans, using chemistry to determine a blood-alcohol level, or the latest legislation on education funding. Finding a level students can relate to will make them more interested in what you have to say.
It’s a lot harder for students to fall asleep or think about something outside of class if they have to get up and at least watch where they’re going. Just because they’ve grown up, doesn’t mean this elementary concept won’t work in college. Benefits of a quick jaunt around the classroom or a few squats include refocusing the brain and lightening the mood.
A little creativity will go a long way to get and keep your students’ attention. Not only will class become a better experience for them, but it also will for you because you won’t feel like you’re talking to yourself anymore.