The website, EducationData, states in its recent research that nearly 40% of undergraduate students drop out of college. A vast majority drops out even before their sophomore year. The reasons for this are varied.
According to the same website, almost 28% dropouts said they fell behind on their studies and lacked support to help them catch up. These students either felt overwhelmed by the difficulty of their course material, or were simply under-engaged and bored during lessons so that their interest and attention waned eventually.
Universities and colleges suffer great losses in revenue and tuition fees due to dropouts. Students have to face the consequences of their decisions to drop out, as our society still values degrees and certifications above all else.
To overcome this problem, universities and colleges now are working tirelessly and investing a great deal of time and money on their teachers and professors to provide quality standard of education.
To drive engagement, the institutions are employing new and advanced teaching methods. Teachers are taught how to prepare lessons that will keep the students’ attention sustained throughout. They are even taught to change their body language to give a more welcoming, understanding vibe to the students. Teachers now strongly believe that Listening is Vital to Communication when it comes to a classroom setting. What is being taught cannot be divorced from the students’ need to understand it. Therefore, learning is a collaborative process between the teachers and students.
With the advancements in technology, it has become easier to make use of the video and audio to give students greater understanding of the course material. On the flip side, as students are engaged in learning online, it has become difficult for them to maintain attention.
America has seen a rise in reported Attention-Deficit Disorder cases among its younger population due to prolonged screen exposures. It is reported that almost 16% university students worldwide have been diagnosed with ADD. Many students go undiagnosed but show signs of having short-attention spans.
As a teacher, it is very important to ensure that the students do not lose interest. Academia should not be about grades but about how much a student learns. Teachers who are able to instill a learning curiosity among their students have succeeded in doing their jobs.
Similarly, the onus of learning doesn’t only lie on the teachers, as students too need to ensure they are fully paying attention during the classes to absorb maximum knowledge.
In this article, we’ve listed down some of the strategies that can be adopted by both the students and teachers to make sure that students’ interest in learning stays piqued.
What teachers can do
- Use the real world – Students are known to grasp a concept better if they can relate it to something in real life. You, as a teacher, can give references to recent developments, organize a field trip, bring relevant objects into the classroom for physical demonstrations, or invite guests into the classroom for speaking, so that students are able to form a real-world connection to the concepts taught in the textbooks.
- Relinquish control without losing power – You should have engaging discussions, let students ask questions, organize a debate for and against a point of view, and let the students feel heard and engaged in learning as much as possible. Imposing directives and commanding students can leave them feeling insignificant, which consequently leads to a lower engagement in lessons.
- Collaboration and Group work – You can plan certain tasks during lessons that involves pairing students and putting them together in groups. This builds teamwork and inculcates tolerance among the students to hear out others’ opinions. They engage in informative discussions and ask questions from each other.
- Use social media well – Many higher education students actively use social media. You can use this platform to communicate with your students, share resourceful content with the class.
- Celebrate their triumphs, teach them the value of failure – Any accomplishment by a student must be celebrated. You should expressively praise a student’s efforts in writing a particular assignment, doing well on a test or for maintaining an overall good academic activity. This makes students feel appreciated and seen. Similarly, when they fail, you must show them that in failures are lessons that can help them rise up again. Make sure you motivate them after a failure.
What students can do
- Stay hydrated, nourished, and rested– Make sure you eat healthy every day, especially before your lessons. Being hungry or thirsty can be distracting. Keeping a snack bar and a water bottle in your bag at all times can be super helpful. Similarly, you must make sure you are well-rested before your day begins at the college. If you are sleepy, you will lose attention during the tough lessons taught in class.
- Be confident, ask questions – If you feel like you are losing track of what is being taught and aren’t able to follow the teacher throughout, feel no shame in letting the teacher know. Asking questions can help your mind stay active and able to retain more information.
- Be active in discussions – It is not easy to speak up frequently in class. But it is a foolproof strategy to ensure that you are awake and focusing. Engaging in discussions with teachers or other students can help you understand the lessons better as well as keep your mind attentive.
- Avoid all distractions – Switch your phone off so that you don’t get distracted with notifications or messages. You must also fight, with all your will, the urge to unlock your phone and scroll through social media or play a game.
Similarly, you must plan for potential distractors, like a chatterbox friend or the view outside the window of your classroom. See to it that you aren’t distracted by these sneakier attention stealers.
- Take notes – Use a pen to take detailed notes during lessons. This helps your mind to actively engage with the lesson, process it thoroughly and summarize the information to be jotted down. This can ensure you do not lose interest in the lesson.
Slacking at college because of waning interest can lead to poor academic performance and mental stress. Teachers should strive to improve engagement as poor student performance or retention reflects poorly on their skill to teach. They should instill a curious spirit in their students. It is equally important for learning that students, too, recognize that their future depends on their grades and academic performance, and therefore, apply themselves, as much as possible, in their studies.