I recently read the book Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James Lang, and can’t recommend it enough to all of you. James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with several small, but powerful ideas—many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies bridge the gap between research theories and the actual classroom experience.
I recently had the privilege of presenting at a local education conference, Scaling STEM. Below is a brief overview of what I shared about the top trends I'm seeing in this industry today. I also plan to share the actual video of my presentation with you as soon as it is live.
Who is the nontraditional student? They are typically students over the age of 25. They may be returning to college to complete a degree or just starting their college careers. These students are a diverse group with life experiences that don’t mirror that of their younger peers, with responsibilities outside of the classroom that often take precedence over their coursework. The majority of nontraditional students attend school part-time, while balancing work and often parenting along with their studies. These circumstances create a different set of challenges from that of a traditional student, challenges that can impact completion of a course or degree attainment. This is coupled with the fact that most nontraditional students are commuters and can often feel disconnected from campus life. Add to that the challenge that a large number of nontraditional never graduated high school and instead obtained their GED, which can negatively impact their self-esteem. It is clear that this student population needs extra support and encouragement to succeed.
My journey as a teacher began in 1959 in Guyana. I began teaching in a rural elementary school classroom with no electricity. My very first students solved math problems on slates. Since that initial teaching job 56 years ago, I have gone from the low tech of the classrooms in Guyana to the high-tech environment at WebAssign where I am the Chief Academic Officer. While these experiences have significant differences, the passion and love I developed for engaging students has remained unchanged and continues to inspire my work. Understanding the challenges instructors face in the classroom provides a unique perspective that helps inform my current work.