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Guest Blog, School

Students: Don’t Forget You Are In Class to Learn

GroupOfStudentsBy Dr Bruce Johnson

It seems like a fairly obvious reminder for students to tell them that the purpose of taking a class is to learn. Initially students start out that way with their first classes but over time, and as habitual patterns set in, it can be easy to forget that new experiences and challenges actually prompt alternate ways of thinking. Students eventually find a working pattern that allows them to be involved in class without having to consider what’s required of them because they manage their time and accomplish all required task. But those habits can actually work against students and eventually stagnate their academic growth.

Developing a Routine

The structure of the classroom learning environment is fairly uniform with specific policies and procedures that are generally the same from class to class. Students know that they have tasks to complete and their performance determines the outcome or grades received. Students often have many other responsibilities that they have to balance, whether there are other classes to take, a demanding work schedule, or any other weekly duties. In order to meet the academic demands, required habits must be formed in order for them to develop an effective working routine. As students advance through their classes this routine becomes necessary to maintain continued progress.

Change Happens

But then something happens. There is a change of some kind that occurs either in a new or an existing class. There may be an instructor who has different expectations than what students were used to, or they uphold academic policies strictly with very little deviation. As another example, an instructor may use a different teaching style than what students had become accustomed to and ask direct questions during class discussions. Or the change could be an unexpected grade when there has been a pattern of receiving similar grades throughout several class.

Respond, React

Any time there is a change it can feel uncomfortable, especially when a student has to reconsider their routine or standard academic habits. A typical reaction might include the following statements “my prior instructor didn’t teach this way” or “this is how I’ve always done it” or “I’ve never been asked to do this” – without considering what that really means. Most instructors are not going to respond and tell the student to go ahead and perform as they believe it should be done because there is a reason why a particular request was made or an outcome was received. Other students may get mad but not say anything directly to their instructor. And of course some students will retaliate through end of course survey comments.

Accept or Resist

But there is really only one choice as a student. You either have to accept the new conditions or circumstances and adapt, or you can continue to resist and cause yourself further anxiety. It is very likely that as student you are going to be faced with changes, which may involve new procedures, new expectations, new demands, or different instructional styles that can include direct questioning techniques. What has happened, and why you feel uncomfortable, is that your routine or typical expected outcome has changed. This is going to force you out of your present habitual patterns. You can resist having to change or embrace it and learn.

Your Instructor

From an instructor’s perspective, their intent is to help expand your capacity to learn. Instructors typically read hundreds of papers and participate in multiple discussions each week. They can quickly spot areas of development or areas where you can grow as a student. Not every instructor is going to grade in the same manner and this can actually be an opportunity to gain new perspectives about your performance. Take time to develop a working relationship with your instructor so that you can express your discomfort and ask for their advice and guidance.

Conscious Realignment

Any time you are required to change because circumstances or outcomes are different, you are presented with an opportunity to reassess your strengths, areas of development, academic skill sets, and time management plan. As you assess your habits and work patterns you become aware of any rut you have fallen into and you can perform a conscious realignment. It is also a good idea to periodically look for opportunities to change and this can be initiated with the start of every new class.

As a student you are in school to accomplish more than acquire subject matter knowledge through your studies or completion of required assignments. You are increasing your capacity to acquire skill sets that will be transferable to your career. Those skills include flexibility and adaptability, which are academic success strategies that every student needs. Welcome changes that come along, even those that feel uncomfortable or were unexpected. Through the process of change you will continue to learn and experience self-development.

Dr. Bruce Johnson has had a life-long love of learning and throughout his entire career he has been involved in many forms of adult education through his work as an educator, trainer, career coach, and mentor. Dr. J has completed a Master in Business Administration (MBA) and a PhD in Education, with a specialization in Postsecondary and Adult Education.

Presently Dr. J works as an online college professor, faculty developmental workshop facilitator, faculty mentor, faculty peer reviewer, and professional writer. Dr. J’s first eBook, APPRECIATIVE ANDRAGOGY: TAKING the Distance Out of Distance Learning, is available for sale now in paperback, and also available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo devices. Learn more by visiting http://www.affordablequalitywriting.com

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About Dangerous Lee

Writer of essays, short stories and Ask A Black Girl. Author of Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt Down & The Half Series - When Black People Look White. Webmaster of DangerousLee.biz.

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