Liven up your classroom

Hannah Schindler

Have you ever been in a class and zoned out for 20 minutes without realizing it? It can be the most frustrating thing when you are trying so hard to pay attention, but you just can’t seem to. All you can think about is guessing how many slides are left in the already very long powerpoint that makes absolutely no sense.

This is common for most students in lecture-based classes because, according to a Chemical Education Research study, students have trouble paying attention for 10 to 20 minutes straight during a lecture. If studies show college students can’t focus the span of a whole class, why do professors waste both our time and theirs? There are so many engaging ways to have an interactive classroom experience.

I have been in few classes that use the time to actually engage the students and challenge us to learn without just spitting the information at our face. A few semesters ago, I was in graphic design history–a class that I was originally dreading because history classes are usually just taught with long, long PowerPoints.

However, I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting it ended up being. Information I learned in the class actually ended up being useful for following classes as well. I felt prepared for the tests and actually went into the final exam very confident that I knew the information very well. I even went to an art museum, which I already really like to do, and actually recognized styles and artists. It was pretty cool!

These classes become interactive by doing group activities like matching games, group jeopardy and group quizzes. These activities make the class less stressful, while still testing your knowledge and learning from others. This is essential in furthering your education. We all retain different information so being able to bounce ideas off of one another actually helps absorb information and learn new things that you didn’t pick up on from the PowerPoint or readings.

Some professors might think this is just an easy way out because one group member can just do the whole thing, but this is not true. There are always some questions that some people know and some people don’t. Being able to work together and learn from each other really does help remember the information for tests or future assignments. Without the stress and anxiety of studying for a test, I was actually able to learn the material without just memorizing it for an exam and then letting it leave my brain right after it.

With all the technology that can distract people, it is even harder to keep the attention of so many multitasking students. There are always students not paying attention and using their phones or computers during class. This is a new challenge and an another reason professors need to change their teaching style to accommodate students today.

Technology can be such a fun and creative way to make the class more fun and allow the professor’s passion for the subject to really come through and inspire students. I know for me when the professor is really enthusiastic and spends time thinking about different ways to teach materials for different learning styles I really appreciate the subject and learn so much more.

I just wish with all the technology we have today, professors would do more than just throw a PowerPoint on the projector and call it “teaching”. There are so many fun ways to keep students attention that professors are not taking advantage of. Even classes that are considered boring classes can be made fun and interesting. It would be great to be able to go to class and not have to think about counting down the minutes until it is over.