Although it’s essential to make lectures engaging, professors should not sacrifice effective teaching structures in the interest of “fun.” Instead, they should create balanced lesson plans that cover content and foster students’ enthusiasm simultaneously.
Education is not one size fits all—everyone processes information differently.
For some, a classroom centered on participation is the ideal learning structure. For others, the thought of their grade being determined by how frequently they speak in class is a nightmare and a barrier to their academic success.
Classrooms should prioritize multiple learning styles—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic—while implementing the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create a balanced classroom rather than taking a blanket-all approach to education.
A successful course should also have clear expectations and timelines outlined for students in the syllabus. Likewise, professors need to be held to these standards as well. If a student hands in a paper by the due date, professors should be transparent about when they will return it with feedback. Organization makes education less anxiety-inducing.
Although structure is essential, it must be adaptable to maintain balance within the learning sphere. What a professor considers a “fun” and “fresh” approach to teaching may seem “boring” and “bland” to students. Lesson plans should be prepared in advance, but also flexible and easily revisable to accommodate each group of students.
Professors also need to be open to receiving feedback during the semester. Although QSSET surveys are an excellent resource for gauging the success of courses at Queen’s, they are limited in only collecting feedback from students who have already taken the course.
Instead, current students should take more opportunities to share their experiences about the course as it’s delivered, through in-class surveys or office hours.
Professors could use this feedback to figure out what keeps specific groups of students engaged. Thus, monthly in-class surveys could help instructors provide fun lectures and assessments without sacrificing effective learning.
Balance extends far beyond the course structure itself. It also needs to exist in the professional relationship between students and professors—one that should emphasize transparency. Students want to know their professors care about their success, and this is accomplished through accessible channels of communication that build this rapport.
Once students feel comfortable advocating for themselves, they can approach professors when class content gets overwhelming. Many students struggle to balance school with the social aspects of their life, leading them to sacrifice their mental health.
When students forfeit downtime for school, they voyage down a dangerous path that usually ends in academic burnout. Ultimately, it’s the student’s responsibility to approach their professor when they feel impending academic burnout. After this, it’s up to professors to suggest solutions that will help students restore this balance.
A balance between “work” and “play” is the key to educational growth—it’s the ultimate learning model.
Mikayla is a third-year Concurrent Education student and one of The Journal’s Copy Editors.
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