Barkley’s (2010) Student Engagement Techniques

Barkley (2010) got my attention in the first page of the preview.

Bain (2004) was an informative book, but the professors he studied appeared to have no problems, beyond what was recognized in one or two sentences in about 175 pages. They didn’t appear to face plagiarism or miscommunication. But, Barkley (2010) readily admitted her difficulties as a teacher. I connect with that honest because I’ve experienced the same problems.

I taught statistics for two sections last year. I tried my hardest to get students involved, but it was challenging to get criminal justice and sociology majors to value a topic of which they can appreciate the importance to the general world, but not their specific lives. No student wanted to do research, so learning about statistics was deemed irrelevant. The truth of that evaluation can be debated, as students may never have to do statistics directly themselves at any time but they’ll be indirectly reading about statistics that other people conducted for their entire lives. And, although the class rated the course well (as it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be), I know that I have to do better in engaging my students, despite the difficulty of that venture, in any additional statistics class I teach.

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I’m certainly familiar with this facial expression in my statistics class. (Who knew they made gargoyle statues that look like this?)

And, this book is how I do so. Sure, to be honest, I’ve heard about some of these techniques before. But, the seemingly-simple act betrays the sincerely-sophisticated method used to scour websites, attend conferences, and interview colleagues to collect almost all the techniques known to man and describe them in a manner that is succinct but understandable. Because, even though I’m familiar with many of these techniques, I often forget about them when trying to organize for class. Such is expected, as human memory is quite terrible and mine is especially bad. So, having this resource, sitting on a shelf waiting for me until I need it, will be a great help and, in doing so, is a great confidence boost.

Of course, these techniques aren’t really ones to just implement immediately, as they must be adapted to the specific class at hand. But, I do consider this to be a good quality. It broadens the book to all disciplines while forcing professors to think about what is needed for their class. Because, to be strong teachers, I believe plugging and chugging in our classes is not the best. It will take more time, especially when trying to applying the techniques to statistics classes, but I am happy to face that challenge.

So, I look forward to reading through the rest of the text. Despite the advice provided by Barkley (2010), I think I’m going to start to read it like a book – page by page. That way, I can really think over how to apply each technique to my individual classes. And, hopefully, after the time and effort, my students will appreciate it by being engaged learners, even in my statistics classes.

Until next time: Bye!

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2 thoughts on “Barkley’s (2010) Student Engagement Techniques

  1. There is nothing quite like the challenge of motivating and engaging students who place zero relevance or value in the content you are teaching. I feel the pain you felt with your statistics courses every single day. Like you, I often forget about many of the strategies listed in the book when planning. So, it is nice to have them all in one place and well organized so I can quickly sift through and find what the best T/S or SET to suit my needs at the time. Though, I do agree that plugging and chugging with these strategies is ill advised and each educator must customize the strategies to meet their teaching style.

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  2. Hi Tess,

    I also found this book to be very helpful, and I’m glad that you are looking for ways to use it to improve your teaching! I feel like a broken record, because I’ve been saying this all day, but I wish I’d had access to this reference when I was an adjunct. It would have saved me so much time and anxiety in my lesson planning.

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