Esty Educators: Are Your Students Engaged?

Motivating students is one of the greatest challenges instructors encounter every single day. How can you motivate and engage your students?

Let’s look at some steps that can help you to maximize student engagement and success in the classroom and clinic. Be mindful of how you structure your lesson plans and approach the preferred learning styles of your students. When you provide students with a basic framework of expectations and guidelines, students feel empowered and they demonstrate better performance. The following are some strategies to consider when planning your presentation and giving life to your lesson plans.

  • Set the tone: Your syllabus should clearly state learning objectives, goals, and student expectations. Openly communicate to your students what they need to do to be successful and achieve their personal goals. You want to take advantage of your students’ initial curiosity with an enthusiastic introduction to the unit. You can do this by conducting class quizzes to get a sense of what the students know or believe about the unit. This can be used every time you introduce a new unit.
  • Mix up your teaching methods: Instead of always lecturing your students, you can incorporate activities that encourage class participation. Incorporating problem-based learning, collaborative learning, and the use of technology allows for greater student interaction and the opportunity for students to practice newly acquired skills and knowledge. Inviting a guest speaker or encouraging student presentations can break the monotony and minimize distractions.
  • Give students options: Empower students by giving them a sense of independence and self-directed learning. Allow students to select a topic to present to their classmates or let them choose which of the three hands-on practices they would like to work on for the day. Even though you are setting the parameters, student motivation is increased if they feel they have control of their learning outcomes.
  • Create challenging scenarios: Bring the real world to them. Take into consideration the knowledge and abilities your students have gained and help them apply what was already learned into the scenario. Relate the content and clinic activities in their daily lives by connecting the material to real-world experiences or their educational goals. You want to provide students with the opportunity for early success and gradually increase the degree of difficulty with the clinic tasks and exams as the course progresses. The key is to strike a balance so that every student feels that they can succeed while being challenged. Additionally, you will deepen their understanding of the material and allow the students to see the value of what they are learning.

An instructor is a facilitator of learning who does not teach under the traditional concept of teaching but rather is meant to guide and assist students in learning for themselves. Your behavior is the one for which you have the greatest control, takes the least amount of time, and can have an immediate and visible impact on student motivation. It is important for you to model the behavior you want to see in your students. If you appear bored and uninterested in the classroom or clinic, your students will most likely respond to that negative energy and duplicate it. Being excited about the content, presenting the information and activities in an organized and interesting way, and showing a genuine interest in teaching will go a long way in maintaining student attention.

—Diana Flores, ASCP Education Manager

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