Ryerson Faculty Conference Keynote #2: Getting Students Engaged

Presenter: Dr. Arne Kislenko

Everyone does things differently and there is a huge subjective component to teaching. What’s presented is also not necessarily based on theories of teaching, but based on overarching principles garnered from experience.

1. Enjoy the Teaching

Teaching is the greatest job in the world. This is the most important place to start, that students understand that you like your job, that they see your enthusiasm. Faculty can actually influence people’s lives, which is a great honour. However, some teachers don’t show up, cut classes, lecture right from a textbook, substitute with technology, which does not allow the development of a personal connection. You need to be there, students need to want to come to class.

It’s worrisome that many universities seem to be diminishing the role of teaching by putting the pursuit of research above all else. However, teaching reinforces research and through teaching we actually communicate with our students.

2. The Active Citizen

We have to teaching from the perspective that students in our classrooms are trying to become citizens in the full sense of the word. We should teach research, writing, critical thinking, objective analysis, to care and take an active role in the world. We should impart some broad consideration of the world.

If someone is apathetic about everything, they are a lost cause. Students should see their education as more than 3-4 years here with a job at the end. They should graduate with a sense of ability to think critically, engage in analysis, direct thoughts about search, and care a little bit about the world, especially since they want to work in this world.

Not only do students need to be engaged, they need to be made engaging with a broad perspective, not just the classes they take. They should be questioned about how they are going to move forward in the working world.

Many students though feel unchallenged and many instructors are fine with them just getting by.

3. High Standards

Respect them as adults with responsibilities and obligations instead of coddling them as children. Have high standards, communicate that to students, and they may aspire to them.

Aside. Draw Connections

We should leave students guessing what we think, and we should welcome them as participants and journeymen.

4. Extracurricular Activities

Be prepared to deliver to our students more than just in the classroom. e.g. alternative spring break – overseas working with NGOs, international discussions

This is the best way to enrich the educational experience, and increase personal growth for students.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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