Thursday, November 17, 2005

Student Perceptions

I wonder if students know the difference between a teacher who is "hard" and one that is "unfair"? I had a student tell their parent that I was a "hard" teacher. I think that the parent thought the term "hard" was "unfair". I also was told that lately my classes have been a lot "harder" than before. I think that the student is thinking that school should be the way that it always was. The student is trying to compare my class with other teacher's. I have started to move away from me doing all of the teaching and I am asking my students to do some of the teaching/learning themselves. I know this will be difficult for the students but will they eventually see the worth in this style? I am trying to change the way that students view a class. What is going to be hard is changing the way that students and parents talk about classes.

I guess that I should be glad the student thinks of me as "hard" and not "unfair".(At least, that is what I think....I might need to ask my students.)


Karl Fisch said...

I think we just need to keep having the conversation among faculty, students and parents about why we think constructivist teaching is better than the "old" way. I don't think it will happen overnight, but I do think that the more we can get people talking and thinking about this, the more likely they will end up being supportive. The problem we face is that no one has really asked them to think about it this way before.

I remember having the same kind of conversations about being a "hard" teaching or that a certain concept was "hard." Part of my response was always that "hard" was not the same thing as "too hard"; that they should want it to be hard because that means it was something that was truly challenging them to think and improve. That if all we gave them was "easy" stuff, we were really insulting their intelligence and disrespecting their abilities.

meh said...

Students don't know what they mean when they say a teacher is "hard" or whatever. They equate whether they like what they are learning or not with the class. When I first started teaching constructively, I had lots of Geometry students saying that they liked Geometry better than Algebra. They equated the way the course was taught with the actual content. They had never experienced either a new way of teaching nor Geometry, so it must have been Geometry that made the difference. They also decide from day to day if you like them or not and that has something to do with a class being hard. There are so many other things that they put into what they determine if a class is hard or not. Most things do not have ANYTHING to do with the content of the course and that sometimes Calculus is just plain simple difficult. I don't know how we change that. All I can do is talk about learning styles and how they need to find the ones that fit their own needs and to give them some strategies and give them the power to create their own learning. I think more of an issue is they do not feel they can ask for what they need in terms of their learning style. Most of their classes are lecture and that doesn't work for those tactile, visual types. But they don't feel they can ask the teacher for some other way to get the idea across. They do not feel the power to do that, how are we going to expect them to take power over their learning. I am always SHOCKED each year when I give my students a short little diagnostic to tell if they are auditory, visual or kinesthetic and the do not know this already! They have gone through 9 years of education and do not know their learning style. THAT IS WRONG.

Crosby said...

I recently had a discussion with my students about my class being "hard." One student had an interesting observation. She said that students and parents definitely all have different definitions of "hard" classes. Some think that a "hard" class is one in which students are required to turn in massive amounts of homework. Others think that difficult tests define a "hard" class. Still others think that a "hard" class is one that requires students to think and defend their positions. I thought that this was an interesting observation and I think that Karl's comment is right on. If we are not challenging students, we are not doing our jobs. (Although I have a few students who think that I am not doing my job correctly because they are not currently earning As!)