Best Practice 2022
Presenter: Saleh Javadi
Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, TIMN
It is no secret that the engagement of the students in any course is necessary for their learning process. Therefore, it is worth focusing on increasing their motivation and engagement during their studies. In addition, it may be more crucial in distance courses to increase engagement where in-person interactions are minimized. Needless to say that different courses may require different approaches to reach this common goal. In my experience in teaching both in-person and distance courses, I noticed two simple ways to enhance students’ engagement: giving examples from real-world applications and providing constructive feedback.
Theories and formulas are of course necessary to construct and convey knowledge. However, real-world examples can in fact trigger curiosity and point to possible applications in daily life. For instance, in one of my courses regarding artificial intelligence, I try to give examples and projects for different algorithms from various real-world problems such as industrial, medical, and economical applications (see Figure 1). This also helps students to come up with new ideas and possibilities to implement solutions for other applications. These all lead to higher interest and motivation to learn the theory and understand its importance.
Furthermore, active and constructive feedback is another simple way to increase the engagement of the students in the course. Particularly for distance courses, it is very important that students can reach their teachers to receive guidance through the course. Moreover, it shows that we as teachers do care about their learning process. In addition, as we use online e-learning platforms, a forum can also be implemented on the course page. In this way, not only the teacher can provide feedback and answer some questions, but also other students can create and participate in discussions during the course.
These two simple approaches although might require a bit more time investment but can have a very fruitful impact on the engagement and participation of the students and consequently their learning process.