Student Insights

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Does a positive learning environment matter to them? If it really does matter, then what insights were my students willing to share?

The answers were overwhelming, yes. Yes, absolutely it does matter.  Here is what they communicated to me as being MOST IMPORTANT …

When I am in a positive learning environment at NWTC I:

  • have more fun
  • get more homework done
  • have increased confidence in myself
  • think my learning sticks longer
  • am more motivated
  • am able to work out my struggles and not quit
  • have the ability to push forward – past my limits
  • have my anxiety decreased about school
  • test better

So, yes it does matter!

One thought on “Student Insights

  1. I would agree that a positive, and might I add, a relaxed learning atmosphere are certainly conducive
    for the process of learning in all of its multi-faceted dimensions.

    I wonder if such an environment just happens or does the seeds of this environment need to be planted along with nurturing. On the first day of class, we review the following guidelines as a “hamburger helper” – thus leaving nothing to chance. Here are the guidelines along with appropriate quotations for further discussion of each of the guidelines:

    Guidelines for a civil, respectful, meaningful, and productive learning environment one and all ——-

    1. Whenever possible, prepare in advance – fifteen to twenty minutes of focused searching on the Internet can produce a significant amount of information on almost any subject. Often students come into class, sit down, check their phones. What about reviewing the chapter (or reading it for the first time) that was assigned, reviewing the syllabus, or double-checking your assignment to be handed in?

    “The more you practice what you know, the more shall you know what to practice.” – W. Jenkin

    2. Supportive evidence enhances your personal opinions, otherwise, merely sharing your opinions can sometimes be an exercise in navel-gazing. Research the pros and cons or the point and counter-point sides of an issue. )see pro/con.org. Your understanding will be more balanced: avoid either/or thinking; strive for both/and perspectives; seek to understand rather than to be understood.

    “I challenge you to give me your perspective that is most opposite mine that I might understand your point of view, and possibly we can find common ground.” Masai Tribe

    3. Set reasonable expectations – people seldom change their minds easily or quickly, particularly in the case of long-held convictions. Be open-minded, not narrow or close-minded or anti-intellectual.

    “Seek not to be understood, but to understand.” Stephen Covey

    4. Leave egotism and personal agendas at the door – to be productive, discussion requires an atmosphere of mutual respect and civility. Egotism produces disrespectful attitudes towards others – that is, “I’m more important than other people,” “My ideas are better than anyone else’s” and “Rules don’t apply to me. I can interrupt whenever I want.”

    “The first step to knowledge is to know that we are ignorant.” Cecil

    5. Contribute but don’t dominate – talkative people need to exercise some self-control and more reserved persons need to accept responsibility for sharing their thoughts.

    “Narrow minds think nothing right that is beyond their own capacity.” Rochefoucauld

    6. Avoid distracting speech mannerisms – “um,” “ah,” “like,” “you know,” and other annoying mannerisms when you speak. Use good English; avoid vulgar or inappropriate language along with comments that may offend someone.

    “If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.” Tyron Edwards

    7. Listen actively – When we don’t listen to one another, discussion becomes a little more than serial monologue – each person taking a turn at speaking while the rest ignore what is being said. When you find your mind wandering, bring it back to the task.

    “How can I be here if I am always there?” – Tagore

    8. Judge ideas responsibly – Be especially careful with ideas that are unfamiliar or different from your own because those are the ones you will be most inclined to deny a fair hearing.

    “What is not fully understood is not possessed.” Goethe

    9. Resist the urge to interrupt – These are rude and disrespectful behaviors, and in many cases it is a sign of intellectual insecurity. If you really believe your ideas are sound, you will have no need to raise your voice or to silence the other person. Make it your rule to disagree without being disagreeable. Raise your hand to be recognized.

    “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” Maurice Switzer

    10. At all times, when someone has the floor and is speaking, refrain from carrying on a conversation with someone else, laughing, or rolling your eyes – this type of behavior says, “I don’t care what you are saying; it doesn’t matter to me.” Avoid text-messaging, checking facebook, and playing games on your cell phone, which for some is becoming a form of addiction. Put your phones out of sight, out of hand lest you be tempted. From time to time, I will instruct an individual to check out pieces of information on the internet. If I see someone using a cell or? I will ask you to put it away – if I ask a second time, you will be marked absent for the class. Upon my direction, instruction, and OK, computers can be used for the in-class chapter discussion activities or other possible uses at my discretion.

    “Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we are too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” Steven Spielberg

    11. Use the instructor as a cue, that is, when he or she wants to transition to another learning plan, that should indicate, be quiet and listen for instructions for the next learning plan.

    “If the student is not ready, the master will not come.” Confucius

    12. Near the end of the class, do not start packing books and notebooks into your back pack. Wait until the class is formally dismissed for the day.

    “Stop and smell the roses.” Mac Davis

    13. Be conscious of and refrain from discriminating against others as the Student Planner states: “Discrimination means a difference in treatment in any service, program, course, or facility of NWTC on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, or other protected class. If comments or behavior related to a protected class are creating a hostile environment for you, you may be experiencing discrimination.

    Also, “sexual harassment is a form of discrimination. It involves unwanted sexual attention or sexual expression that makes it difficult for the recipient or bystanders to work or learn. If sexual remarks or advances are creating a hostile environment for you, you may be experiencing sexual harassment.”

    “For more information, see the Student Planner – ‘Students’ Right to Know, and ‘Path to Success’ with a special emphasis on support services that are available for you – review and select those that might be of most immediate support for you: academic advising, office hours, teacher assistants, student center, counseling, writing center, academic coaching/tutoring, study groups, campus librarians, health center, financial services, computer center, career center, like-minded student groups, and campus security.

    “Everyone has worth: we are committed to embracing the worth of every individual creating a place for all people, and promoting the respectful environment necessary for intellectual and personal discovery.” (NWTC policy)

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