Engaging students in large auditoriums

student teacher network imageIt`s been a busy autumn, but these last couple of days I have finally been able to have a look at some of the items in my “to read” pile on my desk. I have just read the book “Hvordan engasjere studentene?” (“How to engage the students?”). It was worth the effort.

The authors are working at BI (business school in Oslo) and they have experimented with different ideas and techniques to engage students in large settings, like auditoriums with up to 600 students. Not many students are comfortable raising their hand and speaking before such a large crowd, and the authors have described different methods and ideology to engage the students in active learning. The authors believe in “blended learning”, which means that they are using different approaches to learning activities, such as traditional lecture, group assignments, group discussions, one-minute papers, polls, tests and competitions (and many more) to increase motivation and engagements. They have briefly addressed how to cater to the different students` needs, too. They have used Blooms taxonomy to plan learning activities for the whole semester and they used Biggs` well-known students archetypes: “academic Susan”, “non-academic Robert” and “strategic Peter”. The authors have then used these archetypes to describe some of the issues on how to engage the Roberts without losing the Susans and vice-versa.

Of course, as in most books of this character, there is a seemingly unavoidable amount of “chatter”, and some of the technologies and methods are already well-known by teachers. Still, I would find it well worthy of a place in teacher`s training courses. The authors have managed to show their enthusiasm for the field, and it was easy to fall into their line of thinking. Even though many of ideas discussed in the book are made for teachers who teach entire courses, and not particularly for libraians who may have just a couple of sessions (if she is lucky!) during a course, I found some ideas very useful.

I think that I`ll have a furher look at these things in particular: one-minute paper, polls in the learning management system before lectures, group discussions and digital storytelling.

Ronæs, N. H., T. Haugnes og A. B. Swanberg (2012) Hvordan engasjere studentene?: BI LearningLab: en idébok med eksempler. Oslo: Alpha forl.

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