Boring! This word can describe a mutual feeling amongst students when they feel their teacher engages in a lackluster lecture. As I gazed upon the dimensions of the classroom, the dull look on everyone’s faces told the whole story. After attending my fair share of classes, I found myself more intrigued with professors who would constantly spark a class discussion, as opposed to the ones who would just lecture. A class discussion allows for students to express their opinions and thoughts that pertain to the class topic. Professors who only commit to a tedious lecture often find their students restless and worn out. Obviously a visual, such as a PowerPoint, video, or a gallery of photos would compliment a lecture well, as opposed to the strict use of the nostalgic chalkboard. Many teachers at West Chester University use these props to help guide students effectively and explore topics more in depth. Dr. Michael Sandel, a professor at Harvard, has been highly praised for his method of teaching, which incorporates engaging debates that keep students alert and informed. Sandal’s class has a remarkable number of students enrolled in his course each semester, which in 2007 set the record for students in a single class at Harvard, with 1,115, a reflection of Sandal’s teaching routine. This model serves the purpose of reaching students and would be a great structure to emulate. Furthermore, his series in which he teaches his classes about philosophy is called “Justice” and can be found on YouTube. According to Resource Area for Teaching, after 15 years of a meta-analysis of 57 studies, which had an accumulation of 13,000 students in 1,000 classrooms, the research foundthat students using activity-based programs performed up to 20 percent higher than groups using traditional or textbook approaches. The greatest gains occurred in creativity, attitude, perception, and logic. New invigorating ways of teaching are always encouraged, as they are appealing to most students. Textbooks can be helpful at times, but should compliment what the class is based upon and not serve as the only element. Videos are often efficient for images and depictions of events because they can sometimes best portray concepts that cannot be displayed in words. Videos are best used in history-based classes, where the actual events can be witnessed by students. PowerPoint presentations are helpful because they allow students to follow along, while jotting down side notes and key concepts. Group work can also be useful in the sense that everyone is given a part and contributes accordingly, thus understanding each aspect of the given assignment. But perhaps the method that serves a lot of students the best is the classroom discussion, mentioned earlier. It is here we are able to be subjective and allow our voices to be heard. We are able to formulate questions that prompt insightful answers and elicit rebuttals from our classmates. Thus it is essential we maintain these intellectual conversations to hear further analysis and gain a better perspective of each subject. The failure to promote the cherished classroom discussion can result in the repercussions of boredom, lack of interest, the failure to retain vital information, among other negative consequences.
Evan Smith is a third year student majoring in political science with a minor in communication studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.