Diversity in the classroom: Everyone learns differently.
Partnering with Office of Access and Disability, we are working to promote UDL (Universal Design for Learning) on campus. To find out our students’ preferred instructional methods and materials, we asked students to finish this sentence, “I learn best in class when……….”
Forty-five students shared their answers. You can see their answers below.
We encourage faculty to take a look at these comments in designing the spring courses. Sometimes a small change can make a big impact on students’ learning. For example, many faculty post lecture notes to Moodle after teaching a session. However, many students like to get lecture notes before class so that they can more easily follow along with the lecture. In fact, this preference to get class notes before class is one of the most common student requests we hear.
Whether or not you already take UDL principle into consideration, we ask faculty to try “Plus one” thinking: give one more alternative. (Of course, you need to make sure that the alternative does not change the objectives of the course.)
- If you give your students information in a particular medium, give it to them in one more way. For example, if you provide content in text, give it in a multimedia format as well.
- If you ask your students to work on an activity in one way, give them one more choice for how they do that. For example, give them a choice of working in a group in addition to working individually.
- If you ask your students to demonstrate their understanding in one way, give them one more way to do that. For example, if you ask your students to do a presentation in class, give them a choice to create an online presentation using a program such as VoiceThread.
We are happy to work with you in designing your spring course. Please contact us!
Here are the students’ comments.
Learning Preferences: Teach from all angles!
- The professor approaches teaching from all angles: incorporating many different learning styles. (lots of variety!)
- When I make things.
- The professor teaches visually.
- I have found visual aids to be a good way to facilitate the learning process.
- There are visuals and images throughout lecture.
- When my professors use visual aids!
- There are visual aids for me to follow.
- A teacher talks through a problem with me.
- There are study times to work on problem sets together.
- I am given problems to work on (either in a group or alone).
- The professor explains thoroughly and gives examples to work through in class.
- Given more problems that I work in groups.
- My professor is more of a facilitator than a lecturer.
- Class isn’t a lecture, but a group discussion to participate in.
- We have class discussions.
- In small group discussions with guiding questions.
- Classes where discussion is encouraged, but doesn’t take up too much of the time to be very appealing.
- We discuss the topic in groups.
- Smaller seminars are also very conducive to learning.
- The professor posts notes on Moodle BEFORE class… so that I can follow along.
- A bulk of information is given in increments, rather than receiving all at the same time.
- I have access to supplemental materials and there are a lot of examples given.
- The content of the class is self-contained and coherent.
- Faculty connect theory /readings to relevant contemporary happenings in the world today. (e.g. in Philly, through news/media/institutional/artifacts, etc.).
- The class is engaging and adapted to current events.
- Concepts are related in some way to my experience.
- When I study what I enjoy and not what I feel obligated to study.
- I’ve done all the reading…which I barely have time to do
- When the professor explains new materials in detail step by step.
Encouraged to speak up
- Encouraged to speak up.
- I am heard.
- My classroom environment allows me to feel comfortable to be wrong/say the incorrect answer.
- I am encouraged by my peers and professors to ask questions and work together.
- The course material is diverse and allows for different voices to be heard (people of color, LGBT, etc.).
- I feel comfortable asking questions and participating in class. This is usually when the classes are smaller in size and the professor is enthusiastic and available for office hours. (I second this one!)
- My classmates and professor are supportive of my ideas and also willing to push my ideas further.
- I feel the professor and my classmates respect my ideas and the professor makes sure to define terms before assuming we all know what he is talking about.
- I am challenged.
- My professors are organized and committed to challenging me.
- I’m challenged to see/am presented with a perspective that I hadn’t considered.
- I feel engaged by the subject, when I can be challenged by it, and when my engagement with it increases my understanding.
Physical Classroom Environment
- There is no background noise of high volume or frequency.
Engaging and Approachable Professors
- The professor is genuinely excited and passionate about the material!
- The teacher is engaging.
- The professor is engaging the class is interactive.
- My professors have extra office hours.
- Professors are approachable.
- Professors encourage students to come to office hours and ask questions in class.
- When my professors seem like they really care.
- I have found that having a continuous assessment of sorts to be helpful.
- Tutorials are available
- There are TAs
- Food is provided (I second this one!)
- The classes have breaks. I have a three-hour class, and I will lose focus when we don’t get breaks sometime.
- The pace of the class is not too slow or fast