What is impacting your students’ ability to learn?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There are as many answers to this question as there are students, but here are some of the major issues and what you can do about them.

Reading skills: Imagine the time it would take to read every word in every learning module, study guide, required and recommended text, source used to research the assignments, discussion post, and announcement in your subject. Of course, none of us would try to read every word: we’d skim, scan, select, discard, and then focus on reading shorter passages very carefully to make sure we understood them completely. We would also highlight, annotate, take notes, summarise, and file the critical information in a way that reduces the necessity of revisiting the extended text.

Students don’t always possess these critical reading skills, nor do they understand the relationship between active reading and learning. Reading can be a make or break skill for new students: if they are not reading efficiently, it can sap their energy, time, and motivation, and can result in their withdrawal from the course.

What can you do?  

Add these short videos to your Interact2 site:

Becoming a critical reader: https://youtu.be/M6gYMrj6NGA

Reading resilience: https://youtu.be/wijJB-yHcgQ

Making great notes: https://youtu.be/CN8ZrRXAECA

Listening skills: Listening is a natural skill, right? Everyone can do it? Wrong. Listening should be a taught skill that requires explicit instruction, motivation, and practice. Extracting and processing information in a lecture, presentation, or educational video requires active listening, comprehension, selectivity, note-making, summarising, and reflection. Do your students know that?

What can you do?

Prepare your students to listen: at the start of a lecture or recorded presentation, take a minute to give them context and purpose for the session. Be explicit: what key understandings do you want them to gain? what key words will signal important information? what can be discarded as entertaining, unimportant, or peripheral information? what questions are they trying to answer?

Encourage reflection and review at the end of a lecture: ask the students to spend five minutes to complete or share their notes, summarise their learning, draw a mind map, or consult with a partner on the important points. Give them five minutes to ask you questions. Ask students to pair up and generate a headline/discussion point/question that reflects their learning. Require students before they leave the room to identify the most interesting/relevant/surprising/depressing learning point.

Add these short videos to your Interact2 site:

Learning through listening: https://youtu.be/kxDDIGdiu7Q

Learning through video: https://youtu.be/SP-7AP56HSg

Learning skills: Learning requires motivation, attention, understanding, time, review, reflection, repetition or practice, application, transformation, memorisation, persistence, scaffolding, and feedback. It also requires both a level of affective comfort and a level of cognitive discomfort.

What can you do?

Be explicit about the professional relevance of all learning material and activities. Ask questions that encourage students to explore the personal relevance of the material.

Encourage your students to download (for free) and use the sansforgetica font scientifically developed by RMIT to assist with memory retention.

Recommend students attend ALLaN’s Kickstart to Study and Strategies for effective learning and memorising online workshops.

Post this link to ALLaN Study Guides relating to learning skills.

Writing skills: Writing is hard work. It also involves rules, conventions, tricks, and actions that those of us who are interested learn by osmosis. Many of our students, however, are not interested and need to be explicitly told how to construct an effective sentence, paragraph, and text.

What can you do?

Ask your ALLaN Faculty Liaison to identify or develop useful strategies or resources tailored to the needs of your subject and your students. Many of them will come from here, but there are also many short videos on key topics that you can add to your Interact2 site. For example:

Developing an argument  https://youtu.be/S7y78Q8DYlo

Editing and Proofreading   https://youtu.be/6sjeOlQFH3Y

Formal Academic Writing  https://youtu.be/irPZEJSIrkg

How to analyse an assessment task  https://youtu.be/ME8PLIznMC4

How to structure a paragraph   https://youtu.be/MGqHLCseUVo

How to use CSU’s APA Referencing Summary https://youtu.be/AnS9SdOrT5U

Paraphrasing and in-text citations   https://youtu.be/mgjdhOuEZao

Preparing for oral presentations     https://youtu.be/E-R3mEQjAvg