Dr. Amanda Norbutus, a Chemistry professor at Valencia College, has found that student success in her classes can be hindered by limited soft skills. It is not a lack of content knowledge but rather a lack of skills needed to succeed in the classroom. Norbutus has found 4 key strategies that professors can use to help students gain these necessary skills 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.