We asked some of our super users how Achieve helped them support diverse viewpoints and combat bias in their classrooms. We also asked iClicker super-users. Here’s what they had to say:
“Quiet or less confident students aren't as likely to participate in Socratic method or cold calling. The use of iClicker allows ALL students to participate including those who are less confident or quiet. The inclusiveness is refreshing and allows the instructor to determine where everyone is in their understanding.” -Candace Timpte, Biology
“I adopted Macmillian course texts that provide pedagogically sound, culturally responsive, and DEI-reviewed materials. Students: 1) get introduced to voices and perspectives outside their South Dakota bubble. 2) practice inclusive communication practices and perspective-taking. 3) carry out learning in a classroom of belonging and empathy-minded communication. 4) cultivate mindfulness in how we interact with each other.” -Matthew Ingram, Communcations
“The LearningCurve [adaptive quizzing] assignments are offered to all students as a way for them to check their individual learning progress and to get additional practice geared towards their skills. This, I believe, is a way to make the class more equitable.” -Lisa Sharpe Elles, Chemistry
“With iClicker questions that students have difficulty with, I will sometimes stop class and have them discuss their answers with their neighbors and then answer again. I will sometimes use anonymous mode when asking questions that are of a sensitive nature so that students don't feel exposed by their answers. I am also using Achieve in the hopes of boosting student performance by helping students see the connections between the questions and the textbook.” -Jeff Henriques, Psychology
Want to learn more about how Macmillan content is designed with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind from the outset? Explore the Development Matters page, which describes our principles for diverse, equitable, inclusive, and culturally responsive-sustaining learning materials.
Looking for more ideas? Schedule a demo or training to discuss how Achieve and iClicker could support your class.
For iClicker Super-user testimonials, check out this article!
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In this Tech Ed Week presentation, Betsy Langness explores Goal-Setting and Reflection Surveys in Achieve in her courses at Jefferson Community & Technical College - Shelbyville. Jefferson is a big school with a diverse student body that has a high percentage of first-generation college students and Pell grant eligibility. After re-designing a "gateway course" (a course attended by many first-time students) to incorporate these Achieve tools, Professor Langness was able to assess how students were doing in the course and develop metacognition skills for her future students. In this presentation, learn more about how Achieve Goal-setting and reflection surveys provide data that inform and elevate student performance, and how this data can help you create a closer connection with each of your students so that everyone is given the opportunity to excel.
Watch the Presentation!
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When implemented with intentionality, instructional technology can be used to support your institution’s equity and inclusion initiatives in meaningful ways. In this webinar, Dr. Edna Ross, professor of Psychology & Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville, and Emily Ravenwood, instructional technologist at the University of Michigan, explored pandemic-era lessons that can help you create and deliver more inclusive and equitable learning experiences for every student. Watch the webinar recording or read through the session slides to learn more about supporting your institution's equity goals in meaningful ways, allowing you to create connections with all your students.
Access the Recording and Resources!
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Dr. Mark A. Laumakis presents a nuanced perspective on classroom technology in his Tech Ed Week presentation: Unintended Consequences: When Technology HURTS Learning. In this presentation, Dr. Laumakis discusses findings within his own Department of Psychology at San Diego State University and highlights the ways in which iClicker encourages academic integrity in his courses. Watch the Full Presentation!
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We asked some of our super users how Achieve and iClicker helped them support academic integrity in their classrooms. Here’s what they had to say:
“ Rather than giving limited numbers of data sets, we are able to have students use their own original data and perform calculations on their own data. ” -Ed Lee, Chemistry, Texas A&M
“ I use LearningCurve [adaptive] quizzes, discussions, and video activities to instill effective, competent, and ethically sound communication practices. ” -Matthew Ingram, Communication, Dakota State University
“ I personally love the adaptive quizzes in Achieve. Since each question given to students is based on their own individual performance, this guarantees that no two students get the exact same quiz. This decreases the chance of students writing these in groups and increases student understanding. ” -Marissa Dahari, Molecular Biology, University of Guelph
“ I love how diverse the test banks are and that gives me a peace of mind when I assign material to them. ” -Michael Poulakis, Psychology, University of Indianapolis.
“ While not seeking to identify potential academic misuse, I use iClicker attendance to promote timely arrival in class, and polling to ensure that students learn critical facets of all my courses .” -Michael Shapiro, Georgia State University
Interested in ways you might be able to use Achieve and iClicker to foster an environment where students can practice concepts in a low stakes way and minimize the stress that can lead to cheating? Consider encouraging your students to use Study Tools , which is included at no additional cost with Achieve full course solutions, as a way to prepare without pressure--with no work on your part.
Looking for more ideas? Schedule a demo or training to discuss how Achieve and iClicker could support your class.
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What does Academic Integrity mean? What steps can we take, as educators, to support students before and during learning to help promote academic integrity in their daily practice? At Macmillan, we acknowledge that cheating happens, but we also know it’s often because students are strapped for time, feel under-prepared, or otherwise feel out of options. We want to help. Whether it’s providing students with low or no-stakes opportunities to engage with course content or offering them a chance to do some self-reflection, our teams aim to give students plenty of opportunities to develop intrinsic motivation. Because our research shows intrinsic motivation promotes the autonomy of learning and that fosters true student success.
Listen to our product developers, researchers, engineers, and executives talk about why and how opportunities to develop intrinsic motivation are offered every step of the way. Featured in this video:
Susan Winslow, Macmillan Learning CEO
Tim Flem, Senior Vice President, Product
Chris Paddock, Senior Director of User Experience
Marcy Baughman, Executive Director of Learning Science & Insights
Jason Walker, Director, Product
Jennifer Ferralli, Senior Director, Product
Steve Hill, Senior Vice President, Engineering
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Students today have more tools and opportunities to violate their institutions’ academic integrity codes than ever before. According to research conducted by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) in 2020, “ more than 60 percent of university students freely admitted to cheating in some form.”
Whether cheating on an exam, paying someone to complete an assignment for them, working together on an assignment designed for independent completion, or using the internet to plagiarize entire papers, academic dishonesty can take on countless forms.
Educators and administrations will never eliminate academic dishonesty. There will always be those students who are more motivated to take the easy way out than they are to learn the material. And, there will always be students who arrive on the first day of class unaware of the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism. While you may not be able to prevent every instance of cheating or plagiarism, it’s important to uphold the standards set by your school and to teach students about academic honesty by making it an intrinsic part of your course design.
What is academic integrity and why does it matter?
Chances are your institution has detailed its definition of academic integrity or academic honesty in an honor code, academic integrity code, or code of academic conduct. These contracts that students enter into with the university are an important source of information for students and a helpful tool for educators. Most definitions of academic integrity encompass a set of values and approaches toward a scholarship that may include honesty, trust, responsibility, respect, and openness.
Academic integrity isn’t just about negative, dishonest behaviors like cheating and unauthorized collaboration. Positive, honest behavior like demonstrating personal achievements, recognizing and crediting others’ work, and receiving feedback with humility, are equally important to a strong sense of academic integrity.
When accepted and acted on as standards, these behaviors not only foster trust in an individual’s academic work, it supports the trustworthiness and credibility of scholarly work at large. In a time when misinformation is rising rapidly and trust in science and institutions of higher education seem to be declining equally as quickly, it’s important to remind your students of what is meant by academic integrity and why it's so important. This information is relevant to their lives in the classroom and beyond.
Student motivation should be a part of the academic integrity conversation.
Students don’t cheat solely because they have the opportunity to do so. They also do it because they are motivated to. Understanding student motivation is an important step in building academic integrity in your course design. Without first knowing why students might engage in dishonest behavior in your course, how can you hope to address it?
The Center for Teaching Excellence at Boston College has assembled a collection of teaching strategies , including a few on academic integrity, that is incredibly helpful and well organized. In the “ Cultivating Academic Integrity ” resource they outline the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as follows.
“ Intrinsic motivation is active in a student who is personally interested in exploring the material at hand because of their curiosity and desire. Students who are intrinsically motivated assign value to doing the task itself, not to a particular outcome.”
“ Extrinsic motivation is active in students who are willing to invest in a task to the extent that it will help them achieve ‘extrinsic rewards,’ like public praise or money. In the classroom, any number of extrinsic rewards may be operating: good grades, feeling accomplished in relation to peers, admission to graduate or professional school, etc.”
The ultimate goal is to help students develop the intrinsic motivation to learn the course material and successfully complete the course. Not all students start a course with this type of motivation, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be built. Some students might not be passionate about the subject matter, and sometimes students who are may still be inclined to cheat. Here are a few factors that might motivate students to act dishonestly.
High-pressure academic environment
Stress from large courseloads and overlapping assignments
Stress from external environments like work, home, or community
Disinterest in course material and/or a failure to see the relevance of the material to their lives
Lack of confidence in one’s own ability to successfully do the work
If you’ve been teaching for a while, you’ve probably encountered one of these motivating factors. If you’re new to teaching, chances are you’ll encounter one soon enough.
6 Steps to Building Academic Integrity into Your Course Design
1. Reflect on your students, their challenges, and how your course relates to their broader educational goals.
This goes hand in hand with knowing students’ motivation to cheat. As you work to make academic integrity an inherent part of your course, try thinking through what this course means to your students and what their goals and challenges may be. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself.
Check your knowledge of your students. How many students in your course have a strong high school background? How many students in your course are first-generation college students? Do your students understand the purpose of office hours? What is happening in my community and the world that may lead to increased stress and pressure for my students?
Question your course. Is this course a prerequisite to more advanced courses? Are you teaching the “weed-out class” that students fear most in your department? Or, are you teaching the class that students tend to mischaracterize as a “blow-off class?” Are you teaching a first-year composition course where students may not understand paraphrasing and plagiarism?
2. Set clear expectations around academic integrity and set them early.
Talk to your students about academic integrity. Define it for them and give them an opportunity to ask you questions. If you don’t have an answer to one of their questions about academic honesty, remember that you can always direct them to your institution’s honor system or academic integrity office.
Whether required by your school or not, you should include the school’s policy on academic integrity in your syllabus. Setting these expectations can be done at the start of the term and followed up on throughout the semester. If you’re not sure how to continue the conversation with students throughout the semester, try including information about ethics in your field to help them realize the connection between academic integrity and their careers.
Writing your own academic integrity statement
In addition to what is set forth by your school, you may also want to create an academic integrity statement. Elements to consider including in your statement might be:
Appropriate collaboration and a definition of what constitutes independent work
Requirements for paraphrasing, quotation, and citation
Rules and regulations related to your class and classwork
When and how these guidelines for academic integrity will be applied
3. Help build intrinsic motivation by showing students the value and relevance of what they’re learning.
Students who don’t start the semester off with an intrinsic enthusiasm for the course content might need a little nudge to see how exciting, valuable, and relevant your course is. Here are a few ways things you can do to build intrinsic motivation in your course.
Allow students to co-create parts of the course or syllabus with you.
Get creative with positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement by helping students think of their grade as building up from 0, rather than chipping away from 100.
Share your passion for the subject with your students.
Spend time showing students how the information will benefit their future academic and professional success.
Use examples in your course that feel relevant to your students’ lives when possible.
Get students excited by teaching with case studies .
By building intrinsic motivation, you can work through several common factors that motivate students to engage in dishonest behavior.
4. Give students frequent, low-stakes assessments or try scaffolding assignments.
If your course is only made up of five assignments, each worth 20 percent of the final grade, doing well on each assignment becomes an enormous source of pressure for students. If they do poorly on the first assignment or exam, they may feel their only options are to either work that much harder on the second, or cheat to ensure a good grade. You can help reduce this pressure by adding more frequent, low-stakes assessments to your course or varying the value of your assessments and assignments.
If you prefer not to add assignments to your course, you could instead try scaffolding assignments by breaking down your larger assignments into smaller, sequential steps. This allows you to grade students each step of the way, across the entire process rather than just on their final product.
5. Help your students prepare for exams.
Whether you write your own exams or use pre-built assessments, you know what’s going to be on the test. Shouldn’t your students know too? Help your students prepare for the exam by reminding them what they should study.
If you have time and/or the support of teaching assistants, you can also hold review sessions leading up to the major exams in your courses like the midterm or the final. You may even be able to replace office hours one week with an open review. These review sessions can give students the reassurance they need to walk into the exam feeling prepared and confident.
6. Practice the academic integrity you preach.
It’s important to display the same academic integrity as you ask of your students. It’s a no-brainer, but it’s important to keep in mind. So, even if you’re in a hurry to finish your slides for tomorrow’s class, don’t forget to cite your image sources. You’d expect your students to do so, and leading by example helps students know what behaviors to embody.
The challenge of academic integrity in online learning environments
Remote learning environments can create unique challenges to academic integrity. It’s easy for them to turn their video off or completely tune out.
It’s also easier for students to feel detached in an online classroom, and when they’re not invested in your teaching or the course material, they may be more inclined to look for shortcuts.
Some ways to combat these additional challenges brought on by online learning include:
Investing more time in letting the students get to know you
Holding virtual office hours more frequently
Set a time limit for tests and quizzes, akin to how much class time they’d have in person
Start with trust by making tests open book when possible
Regardless of modality, it's important to show students the value of what they’re learning, to build a connection with them, to set a strong example, and to reflect on their motivations.
Fostering academic integrity requires a multi-pronged approach, but with the right tools, and a plan to shape your entire course with it in mind, you can reduce the urge your students have to cheat, giving them a more meaningful experience in your course, no matter the content. How do you build academic integrity into your course design?
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Research has shown that often students cheat because they are feeling intense pressure to get ahead. For some, it’s fear of failure. For some, it’s weak time management skills. For others, it’s stress and anxiety.
Dr. Amanda Norbutus, a Chemistry professor at Valencia College, describes how connecting with students can help build a supportive classroom environment, which can minimize pressure to cheat. She has found that student success in her classes can be hindered, not by a lack of content knowledge but rather by a lack of skills needed to succeed in the classroom. By empathizing with students and encouraging a growth mindset, she helps her students develop valuable learning skills, along with their chemistry content.
Norbutus shares 4 key strategies that professors can use to help students overcome this soft skills knowledge gap over the course of the semester.
Office Hours and Problem-Solving Sessions
It is important to make office hours count. Many students come to office hours unprepared. Instead, request that students attempt a problem before bringing it to office hours to be addressed.
In order to help students learn important problem-solving skills, have them practice solving problems ranging from medium to complex to bridge between introductory examples in text and those used to test mastery in homework and exams.
Study Modules and In-Class Study Tips
Research has shown that stronger neuropathways get built when students take handwritten or typed notes. These neuropathways not only become easier to access but also longer lasting, allowing students to be more successful. Advise and encourage students to write in shorthand or abbreviations instead of writing everything out word for word. Have them practice these skills so that they can work to improve on this style of note taking.
Student Goal-Setting and Reflection Surveys
The student surveys in Achieve can help students learn new study habits and modify the ones that did not work for them through careful evaluation throughout the semester. Students are then able to reflect on their journey to help them optimize their study habits during the semester as opposed to latent regret or change after the semester.
Students should be asked to manually write down academic affirmations and why they believed they would help them stay focused and on track during the semester. Academic affirmations can help students stay their path as they face deadlines, outside time conflicts and stressors, and semester fatigue. It also can stimulate a growth mindset, which aids students as they take on the class.
To learn more, watch Dr. Norbutus’ presentation on Academic Life Skills here .
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Did you know that Achieve includes Learning Curve, unpenalized and multi-take assessment grading settings, Diagnostics, and iClicker Study Tools that can help students better prepare for their midterms? Just in time to relieve some exam stress, learn how you can assign any of these resources in your own courses.
LearningCurve is an adaptive self-study program for students that quickly adapts to what students know and helps them practice what they don’t yet understand.
Students complete the adaptive quizzes by answering questions until they reach the target score. Along the way, students receive clear feedback based on their correct and incorrect answers--offering an easy way for students to review and assess their understanding of key concepts. As students answer questions correctly, the questions get harder. If they get stuck, students can choose to read the e-book, see a hint (which reduces the point value of the question), or they can give up and move to the next question.
You can view LearningCurve results by class, topic, or by individual student.
Learn more about LearningCurve.
Unpenalized (practice) and multi-take grading policies are included in Achieve’s built-in assessment grading settings.
The unpenalized setting allows students unlimited attempts to complete each question with no penalty for wrong answers. They can use resources like the e-book (if available) to help them answer questions, and they can see the solution for each question after they complete it or give up.
The multi-take setting allows students to take the assessment up to five times. Students will see the solutions for the questions after each take, and the gradebook will record each student’s highest score.
Learn more about assessment grading settings.
Diagnostics are available in Achieve courses for English and General Chemistry.
Students start by taking a practice test , which identifies topics for additional growth. Students then receive personalized study plans that provide instructional resources that target their identified growth areas.
Grades for study plan assignments are based on how much of the study plan a student completes by the assigned due date or the end of the term. You can view Diagnostics results by class, topic, or by individual student.
Learn more about Diagnostics.
iClicker Study Tools
Included with most Achieve courses , iClicker creates study resources for your students as you engage them with in-class activities. Study Tools are automatically available in the iClicker student mobile or web app; all you have to do is use iClicker’s setting to share polling images with your classes.
Students can bookmark polling questions you’ve already asked in class to create interactive flashcards and practice tests. Although you won’t be able to view or grade Study Tools results, this level of privacy for students helps them feel comfortable quizzing themselves as many times as they wish.
Learn more about how students use iClicker’s Study Tools.
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Student engagement isn't just a buzz phrase or hot topic of the moment. It's something that we — as educators, students, and life-long learners — all have a great deal of experience with both as practitioners of new engagement ideas from the front of the classroom and as beneficiaries of well-executed strategies as learners ourselves (and maybe some not so well-executed ones!). But why does student engagement really matter? What influence does it have on the connection between students and course content? Our senior leadership team and product designers don't just consider student engagement as we create products, we're passionate about the way we engage students. Listen to Macmillan Learning CEO Susan Winslow and Executive Director of Product, Ryan Moore, share their first-hand experiences with meaningful student engagement and the ways in which those experiences have impacted the work we do at Macmillan Learning.
Hear from Susan Winslow, CEO, talk about what student engagement has meant to her and why creating engaging experiences is so important to the work we do at Macmillan Learning.
Listen to Ryan Moore, Executive Director of Product, talk about his experience creating an engaging course for students and how he brings that knowledge to his work every day at Macmillan Learning.
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Teaching in Stereo: Strategies for Class Participation
Nov. 1 @ 1PM ET
A year of teaching on Zoom showed faculty that having students participate using their voices isn’t the only meaningful kind of participation. How can we take a more inclusive, accessible approach to class participation in our classrooms, whether they’re virtual or in person? In this workshop, we’ll consider principles and practices to turn our classes into learning communities where students can learn from and with each other.
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How WE Achieve: Using Goal Setting and Reflection Surveys to Create Closer Connections with Students Nov. 7 @ 12PM ET
In this webinar, Dr. Mollie Anderson will share how she uses the Goal Setting and Reflection Surveys in Achieve. These surveys not only boost student metacognitive and study skills, they also provide instructors deep insight into student demographics and needs--in their own words. Mollie describes how she uses this data to empathize with her students, tailor her teaching to suit the unique makeup of each class, and even intervene with individual students when they need her help the most. You'll come away from this webinar with ideas for how you can use Goal Setting and Reflection surveys in your own class to create closer connections with students than ever.
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It really is a tale as old as time – a room full of students staring blankly at an instructor who has just posed a question to them. Some students are even nodding off in the back of the classroom. It’s not necessarily a story of disinterested students but it might be one of disengaged students.
If you’ve ever struggled to keep your students engaged, you’re not alone. Engaging students has always been a pain point for educators. Whether you’re trying to engage college students during lectures or get high school students to participate in small group activities (or anything in between), you’ve likely come up against some hurdles.
An engaged student is one who is curious about, interested in, and attentive to what they’re learning. Engaged students feel a positive emotional connection to their learning experience. Without engagement, students might end up detached or focused entirely on memorization. Does that sound familiar?
Sometimes engagement comes easily. A student might be so deeply interested in a subject that they’re on the edge of their seats during every class. It's more often the case that educators have to help foster a positive connection between students' lives and what they’re learning.
Supporting student engagement is possible if you know what barriers stand in the way and what strategies and activities to incorporate to drive engagement. As an educator, you can take the driver’s seat with a few simple considerations and steps.
What stands in the way of student engagement?
There are countless barriers to student engagement but a few stand out as exceedingly common. Often, students who want to engage in classes actively lack the confidence to speak up. Many students struggle to see how concepts and topics related to their own lives. Some students even feel so disconnected from their instructors and peers that they don’t realize an opportunity to engage with them.
Beyond those common barriers to student engagement, one of these factors could be why you’ve noticed low engagement among your students:
Life outside of the classroom is distracting your students. Like all of us, students have lives outside of their (school)work. The stress they experience isn’t always about making good grades and getting to class on time. Home life, finances, extracurricular activities, friends, and social and political events can create stress that makes it difficult to focus in class.
Your lectures cater to one learning style, and it’s not theirs. Whether you’ve been teaching for decades or are just getting started this term, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm. You have so much content to cover in such a short amount of time and routine can help. It’s important, however, to keep different learning styles in mind when mapping out your course design.
Students don't know how to ask for help. For a lot of college students, office hours can be an intimidating, if not totally foreign concept. When students don’t know that they can connect with their instructors they can begin to feel isolated. They may even distance themselves from the course slowly over time without realizing it.
Mistakes aren’t encouraged. Nothing zaps confidence more than the fear of being wrong. If in-classroom engagement feels too high stakes for students, they may be so fearful of providing the wrong answer or working through a problem incorrectly that they miss out on the opportunity to engage.
Students don’t know where they stand in a course. A lack of clarity into their progress in the course can impact their engagement. Maybe you have an incredibly shy student who answered a question in class one time. For that student, that one act of engagement might have felt monumental but to you, it may seem that they're not engaged enough.
Expectations aren’t clear. If students don’t know that they’re expected to actively participate in class, they may seem disengaged even when they aren’t. Every student has had a different experience throughout their academic careers and may not intuitively know what to do in the classroom.
Instructor barriers to engaging students
Low student engagement is a compounding problem for educators. Every barrier to engagement that students face creates a challenge that instructors need to solve. At the same time, educators face their own challenges to improving student engagement, namely time constraints with such hefty workloads and analysis paralysis brought on by the sheer number of resources, advice, and tools available.
With a good action plan and well-designed, research-backed tools, small changes to a course can greatly improve engagement. Yes, there are 101 things you can do to improve student engagement, but you don’t have to do them all and you don’t have to do them alone.
Breaking through student engagement barriers
You don’t have to wait until halfway through the semester – when students are nodding off in class or skipping altogether – to start thinking about engagement. An effective student engagement strategy starts on day one of class and doesn’t stop when students leave the classroom. Here are five ideas to help you break through the barriers throughout the term:
Break the ice with your students . Allot some time for students to get to know you and their classmates on the first day.
Provide an informal meeting place . Encourage your students to share questions, comments, and ideas with one another through a discussion board in your LMS or via a class social media page. This doesn’t have to be for a grade.
Clearly and repeatedly share information about how students can communicate with you . This includes sharing your office hours schedule and setting realistic expectations on your response time to emails.
Don’t ignore what’s happening outside of the classroom . Many of the stressors that distract students during class can become teachable moments. If you find that your students seem concerned by current events, consider how you can incorporate them into lectures, assignments, and group discussions.
Make it okay to make mistakes . Whether it’s fostering supportive class discussions wherein students feel comfortable being wrong or providing more low-stakes assessments, give students opportunities to make mistakes without fear.
Active learning is arguably the foundation of student engagement. We define active learning and outline an extensive list of strategies that you can use before, during, and after class in our Educators' Guide to Evidence-Based Strategies for Elevating Student Engagement. As a quick overview, active learning is when students learn by doing because their instructor involved them in the lesson directly. This is opposed to passive learning where students learn by receiving information that is presented to them by an instructor.
At some point or another, everyone has to learn by doing. You can read every book in the world about knitting but until you actually pick up the needles and yarn, you won’t be able to apply that knowledge. Bringing active learning strategies into your classroom gives students the opportunity to acquire knowledge and apply it in the same space. In this article, we’ll recommend a few sample activities all of which are based on active learning principles.
3 sample activities for better student engagement
Metacognition-focused activities allow students to reflect on and realize how they learn best. Knowing whether they’re strong visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic (VARK) learners can be a helpful tool for engaging students and helping them build personalized study plans.
You can turn any small group activity into a metacognitive one with a few simple steps. Ask students to think about whether they are visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic learners (or have them take the VARK Questionaire if you have time). Then, instead of allowing students to choose their own groups, group students by their preferred learning styles and have them complete the activity. Ask them to reflect at the end of the activity on what it was like to work with other learners like them. Then, divide students into groups with mixed learning styles to complete another activity. Ask them to reflect on what they gained from working with students who learn differently.
Read the Metacognition for Digital Learning whitepaper for more information and ideas.
Gamify Your Classroom Experience
Everyone loves a good game and there’s no reason you can’t bring the benefits of games into your courses. Here's how you can play Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with your students, no matter the subject you teach.
Using a free website like superteachertools.us/millionaire and an in-class engagement tool like iClicker, you create a modified version of this popular game Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Keep everyone involved by having one contestant submit their final answer on the SuperTeacherTools site, while the rest of the class weighs in via iClicker. For each question, the contestant can review the results of the iClicker classroom poll and answer using that information or venture a guess on their own.
For more ways to engage your students by turning class time into game time, check out this resource, Playing to Learn: Hosting Online Games with iClicker .
Case studies can be the basis of great active learning activities. They can easily foster collaboration among students and help contextualize course content.
One activity you can try with your students using a case study is to investigate a mystery. Who doesn’t love a good mystery story? While your students probably won’t walk away with definitive answers to questions that leading experts in your field haven’t solved, this exercise can engage your students by getting them to think outside the box. Here’s an example borrowed from a biology educator:
Did Joseph Merrick have Proteus syndrome? Joseph Merrick also called the Elephant Man, died in 1890. He was known and exhibited as a “freak” for his deformities. Joseph was a patient at London Hospital. Many now believe that he had a rare condition known as Proteus syndrome. This is an example of a case study that can be used to teach the scientific method or cell signaling. Provide students with a description of Joseph Merrick and his life. Walk them through how to determine whether or not he had Proteus syndrome. Finally, provide guidance to help keep them on track.
You can watch the recording of a webinar we hosted that is full of tips for incorporating case studies into STEM courses.
6 steps to creating your own engaging activities
Active learning activities aren’t just an opportunity to play a game or get your students talking, they should always tie back to the course material and help students better understand topics and concepts. Once you know which aspects of the course content you want to create an engaging activity for, try these steps to get started.
Reflect on how you became interested in a new topic or issue . How was the information presented to you? How did you engage with it? Can you try something similar with your students?
Co-create the course with your students . Poll your students to find out how they’d like to learn and what kind of activities they’d be likely to participate in.
Try and try again . Once you’ve tested the activity, you’ll have a strong sense of what worked well for you and what you’d like to do differently moving forward. Always let your students know when you’re trying something new so they know to be patient and attentive.
Create a routine . Once you’ve got a handle on the activities you’ll incorporate in your course, make it a part of your routine. It’ll help students know to focus and be prepared for any break in the lecture for an activity.
Keep them accountable . Using a system like iClicker that allows you to track responses will help you know who is participating and who isn’t.
Remember to follow through and follow up . Give yourself and your students time to discuss activities. Highlight correct answers and explain why other responses were incorrect.
Student engagement is a bit like a puzzle. Addressing the specific barriers you and your students face is one piece of the puzzle. Having the best resources and tools that allow all of your students to participate equally is another piece. With the right puzzle pieces, you can pull together an engaging course for your students.
If you’re interested in learning more about student engagement solutions at Macmillan, click here to schedule a demo .
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Digital Tools in the Post-Covid Age: Using "Read and Practice" to Foster Mental and Emotional Health Among College Students Oct. 13 @ 11AM ET
In this webinar, Dr. Vaughn Scribner explains how Read and Practice helped him to empathize with students and help them with their mental well-being during Covid, and how he plans on integrating these findings in the post-Covid landscape.
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At Macmillan Learning, we strive to create products that foster connections between professors and their students. Learning happens at the human-to-human level, and our tools foster those connections and relationships. In this video, hear from Susan Winslow, CEO at Macmillan Learning, the director of Product, Jason Walker, and the executive director of Product, Ryan Moore, on the importance of creating connections.
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