How do you motivate students who are falling behind?
FRANK E. CUMMINGS III:“It takes one-on-one. If I lost one, I felt like I lost them all. I spent time with the students, helping them understand how the assignment was important to them, how they could relate personally.”
ZVI DREZNER:“I am very patient with students who come to my office for help. If I can, I try to figure out why they are failing and suggest different approaches to studying. I keep telling them that it is easy when I solve problems on the board in class but, ‘you really do not know the material if you do not do the homework yourself, without my help.’ Many students get a wake-up call after the first test. They realize that they must study and do better in subsequent tests.”
JANE V. HALL: “I try to notice the students who disappear or whose work starts slipping, contact them to ask ‘what’s up?’ and, then, discuss how to get back on track. Sometimes it is just a matter of letting them know that someone is paying attention and wants them to succeed.”
STEVEN N. MURRAY: “You do your best to reach out to them. I’ll contact them personally and ask what they think is preventing them from doing better. Sometimes it’s a lack of awareness of what college work is — especially for freshmen. Often, they don’t understand that they need to spend more hours studying out of class than time in class. We can discuss how they’re studying, look at where their skills may be deficient and try to determine what we can do to make them successful. I try to talk to them directly whenever I can.”
NANCY L. SEGAL: “Motivating some students requires finding topics that are personally meaningful to them. Students need to feel the material matters.”
RAPHAEL J. SONENSHEIN: “I remind students that success is within their reach. I am willing to reveal times in which I have fallen far behind. I try to give them steps to make a comeback. But, most of all, I encourage them to not give up, and if they do fail, which does happen, it does not mean they have failed as a person.”
HALLIE YOPP SLOWIK: “Students need to know that they are noticed and that they matter. I genuinely care about my students. I encourage each of them to stop by my office or e-mail me, even if just to say hello. I make a point of having individual conversations with any students who are falling behind, and I let them do a lot of the talking. I ask about their professional goals and we think together about how the class may or may not fit their goals. We talk about choices and priorities. There are times when other aspects of a student’s life (e.g., family circumstances, health) simply must take priority over coursework. I understand this and we talk about whether now is the right time to be enrolled in a demanding program. In my field, teacher education, we talk about how their current choices will have a profound impact on their future students. Most credential candidates enter the program because they wish to serve humankind. We talk about the fact that desire isn’t enough; there is a knowledge base that they have a deep responsibility to understand.”