I don’t think as an undergraduate student I fully appreciated some of the learning tasks we completed. I remember reluctantly doing a performance profile (PP) and thinking to myself that ‘I probably won’t ever use this in the future’. However, now I am working towards a doctorate I will likely use the PP as a part of my research intervention. Shame i didn’t fully appreciate what my lecturer was doing all those years ago. I remember the task vividly to this day, because i was involved in the learning.
I often remember moments of learning when i was fully engaged in thinking about a topic. From my perspective we often don’t provide enough directed ‘thinking time’. It takes courage sometimes to be quiet and let students think and work out the answer. However, this time is when the learning happens, when the cogs are turning and they are trying to figure out a solution. It doesn’t always require a structured task to facilitate thinking.We often only need to direct a groups attention to something (a problem, a graph, a picture etc) and give them time to think about it while we observe and ensure they are engaged.
I tend to now think of student engagement in ways that i can monitor practically in the classroom. For example, i can see if someone is really thinking or is distracted, tired, fed up. That notion of ‘i can see the cogs turning’ is easily recognised. Therefore, i aim to facilitate this within a lesson. If its not happening then change teaching method. If the teacher-led way isn’t working, break it up and create a task or a problem, give them some time to think. But aim to get the cogs moving again.