in Class? Motivation for Attendance and Preparation
Lacoss, Faculty Consultant, TRC and Department of Slavic Languages and
we teach it, will they come? Getting students to class, prepared, is
an issue with which instructors perennially grapple. This focus group
aimed to unearth the factors that motivate students to prepare for and
attend classes, as well as techniques that teachers use to encourage
them to do so.
who exhibit certain qualities draw students to their courses. A passion
for the material being taught, approachability, the ability to challenge
students, and a sense of humor ranked among the top qualities of exceptional
instructors noted by our panel. Attention to students and mutual respect
also motivate students to attend classes. These qualities help maintain
the interest level of the students, enticing them to further study of
the given topic.
the courses that best engaged the participants, the instructors made
information understandable and broke it down into manageable chunks.
Thus students perceive that the time in class is productive. Students
especially appreciated opportunities to couple practical application
with material presented in class. The instructor's own experiences,
related through anecdotes, can provide both real life examples and the
personal touch students find appealing.
size is an important factor in choosing a course; students perceive
that they learn more in smaller, more interactive classes. Still, presentation
style contributes to holding the students' attention, regardless of
class size. In larger courses, an energetic presentation of lecture
material helps hold student interest. In smaller classes, students place
a premium on teachers who listen well, mediate discussions effectively,
and operate in an interactive manner.
general, the amount of preparation that students are willing to put
into a particular class depends in great measure on how stimulating
they find the course content and presentation, on how the demands of
that course compare with those of other courses, and on whether they
perceive that effort spent on preparation yields a corresponding payoff
in the final grade.