One thing that Alison Lloyd notices when she is teaching is that students are used to doing many things at the same time. They have difficulty in concentrating in the classroom and one of the biggest problems today is off-task talking in the classroom.
What does Alison suggest that can be done about that?
“Some teachers simply ignore it, just let it go on, not saying anything and they believe eventually that it will die down. But that’s untrue. Ignoring it looks like positive reinforcement to the students and makes them thinks that it is acceptable to keep doing it.”
She continues that most of the time the teacher doesn’t have to do anything beyond walking over in the direction of the noisy students. By wandering around, she is able to get a better view of what the students are doing, interact with them and she finds that they engage better.
And if that doesn’t work?
“There are other strategies. You can say things less directly but still address the issue. For example, you may say, ‘Oh, a lot of you are chatting, so you must have a lot of good things to share.’ If there is a group of students chatting all of the time, I will call on these students to answer some of the questions.”
Alison says that she only talks to the class as a whole for at most a half hour in a class session. By cutting down on the lecture time, she cuts down on the time when off-task time is considered disruptive.
Would it be possible for you to adopt Alison’s strategies?
Dr Alison Lloyd is an award-winning educator, and teaches branding, marketing, retailing, and China business at undergraduate and postgraduate level. She is an advocate of active learning and is currently engaged in a number of teaching and learning development projects/working groups in the University on areas including experiential learning, learning facilities, learning management system, and learning technology.
Here is a video clip produced by EDC which demonstrates the tactics that Alison has used to engage students in learning in large lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO2jSAW8UTk.