Beyond Memorization – Supporting First-Year Student Success

Do your first-year students struggle to move beyond memorization and thinking to learning and applying?  You can support your first-year students with methods and practices that will improve their abilities to problem solve, analyze, and draw conclusions.

Your practices within and outside the classroom are critical for enabling your first-year students to successfully transition into higher learning.  As you prepare to teach your next first-year course, consider these ideas:

  • Active Classroom Learning – First-year students need plenty of hands-on practice applying concepts.  Keep lecture time short, and intersperse activities that give students the opportunity to make use of higher level reasoning and problem solving.
  • In-Class Reviews – Because first-year students may lack study skills, it is beneficial to help them develop these skills for test preparation.  A thoughtfully created review that encourages problem solving and analytical skills can be completed in class to ensure students are effectively working through the study process.
  • Classroom Office Hours – Students may be hesitant to make use of instructor office hours, especially those in first-year courses.  Make it easy for them to access you outside of class time by moving your office hours to a classroom setting.  In addition to breaking down barriers for approachability, this also allows you to serve groups of students more easily.
  • Service Learning – Service learning offers the opportunity for students to simultaneously serve the community, gain career skills, and earn course credit.  Accounting students taking the Computerized Tax class participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service learning project, in which they provide basic tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income households.  This is a great way for students to gain real-world experience, apply concepts, and meet a community need.

These ideas will help you transform your first-year students’ habits and thinking into skills that promote higher learning.

 

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