Tag: Student

Benefits of Small Group Stations in Class

Small group stations set in place in larger classes can give students more opportunities to participate, work as a team, and receive more personalized instruction.  Here are several benefits of starting small group stations or workshops.

  • Hands-on learning opportunities
    Small group stations afford students the chance to work with their hands with labs, small experiments, puzzles, and even physical activities.  A smaller group means that each student will have more of a chance to take an active role in the activity, and the station becomes a hands-on challenge for the students, rather than a demonstration by the instructor.  Students will generally remember what they learn through these stations better than if they had learned the same concepts from a demonstration because they are actively involved.

  • Group focus
    Small group stations are heavily focused on group work, which is very different than the traditional lecture-based format of the classroom.  Because of this setup, students will feel more motivated to involve themselves in their education, ask questions, and participate.

  • Peer learning
    Often, students who have enjoyed certain workshops in the past will revisit the class in later years and assist in leading a small group station, giving the new students a chance to learn from their peers.  This type of learning can sometimes be more effective, as many students feel more comfortable asking older peers for help or more detailed explanations.  The older students also have the opportunity to learn better teaching skills as a result.

These aspects of small group stations will ultimately provide students with a new and different approach to learning that could be highly beneficial.

Maximizing the Benefits of Group Projects

Students can learn much more than just class material from a group project, including team management skills, leadership, and creativity.  Here are several ways for maximizing the benefits of group projects for students.

  • Creative format
    Group projects that involve creative media, such as film, art, or cooking, can often get students more excited about the project.  Even simple presentations can elicit more participation and involvement rather than a simple worksheet, paper, or poster board.  Having a more creative format can also shift students’ perceptions of what the project should be like; if the project resembles many individual assignments in the class, then students will default to individual work, rather than group work.

  • Time to work in class
    Often times, students are incredibly busy with extracurricular activities, sports, and instrument practice.  Allowing a few minutes of class time for the group to meet and organize the project will greatly benefit students, as it will allow them to develop and implement a schedule for themselves.  At the very least, it will give them a chance to set up another meeting time outside of class.

  • Student evaluations
    Having the students evaluate each other can be a very useful way to maximize the benefits of a group project.  It will give the instructor a better idea of how the group worked together, and it will give him or her a better understanding of the work distribution for the project.  Ideally, students should also be evaluating the project itself, giving feedback for what could be improved for the next year.

With these techniques in place, students are ready to get the most out of their next group project.

Experience Collaborative Learning with Interactive Whiteboards

Interactive Whiteboard.

In a traditional classroom setting the one basic piece of equipment you expect to see is a chalkboard or dry erase board. With the amazing technology of today, a new board has been created unlike anything from the past. It’s called an interactive whiteboard. This board is highly effective in collaborative learning for students.

Similar in both size and appearance to the dry erase board, it has the ability to combine not only a dry erase board but also computer technology. Teachers as well as students may use the pens that come with these boards to “write” on the surface of the board, but anything soft can be used as a writing tool.

Using the software provided with the board children are able to interact with other students as well as the teacher by seeing their lessons on interactive whiteboards. Students can manipulate images on the board and move them wherever they want them to go. Multiple students can manipulate the interactive whiteboard at any given time. This ability enhances collaborative learning for children and the kids will tend to be more engaged in the lesson because it is similar to a gaming experience. Each child is also able to see the different ways other students get the same answer.

These interactive whiteboards can be used with all subjects throughout every grade. Teachers can save work done by the class for future reference, repetition, or for students who were not in class that day. This allows all children in class to participate in the collaborative learning experience, even if they were not in school that day.

Online College Courses – One More Option

Image via Wikipedia.

Online learning, from high school to graduate achool courses, has become an important and growing part of education around the world. There are a large number of websites on the Internet devoted to helping students find schools and courses that meet their needs. Surprisingly, there are a number of online high schools offering high school and college level courses, including state sponsored programs, individual high schools and universities.

Other sites focus strictly on colleges and universities while other sites list career or para-professional online learning schools as well. The number of schools listed at websites varies varies from 210 to over 300.  However, it should be noted that many of these schools may not be accredited and in the world of higher education, proper accreditation is extremely important for the validity and prestige of the degree or certificate conferred.  With that fact in mind, it is important to ensure that any online college or university considered is fully accredited.

There are also advantages to taking college or career related courses online. The biggest advantage is convenience, especially for those who are working part or full-time. Online learning gives students the freedom to fit course work into time periods that do not conflict with work and exposure to students from other areas. Students can also pace themselves, depending on the course material. Online learning may be less expensive, especially in terms of travel and books.  Cost is an important aspect that needs to be checked out thoroughly before committing to a program. Most importantly, it is important to recognize that online learning requires good time management skills, discipline and commitment to be successful.

Benefits of Peer Facilitation

Peer facilitation is an active learning technique that is often found on college campuses.  During this setup, a group of students works together on a problem set, lab, discussion, or other challenging problem.  This group, which is usually a small group of less than ten students, is not led or taught by an instructor, but rather facilitated by a peer.  The peer facilitator does not lecture, present, or even deliberately teach; instead, he or she guides the group through the workshop.  This method can benefit students in several different ways.

  • Increased participation
    Having a student lead a workshop will increase participation all around, as the other students will be more motivated to contribute.  The setup of the peer facilitation class is geared towards teamwork and problem solving, rather than note taking and listening to a lecture.
  • Leadership
    Rotating which student is the peer facilitator provides each student the chance to improve his or her leadership capabilities.
  • Active learning
    Students are actively involved in their learning, as they must be the ones to find the answer by working through the questions.  In traditional methods of instruction, the teacher provides the answers or works examples in class, while in peer facilitation, the peer facilitator does not provide the answers but guides the group.
  • Problem solving skills
    Learning in this manner provides students with additional problem solving skills that they might not otherwise develop from a more traditional, lecture-based class format.  Additionally, the peer facilitator will develop a new set of leadership and problem solving skills, as he or she must direct questions back to the group, avoid giving answers directly, and avoid too much explaining.  Instead, the peer facilitator should be helping the other students figure things out on their own.

The value of peer facilitation is gradually becoming recognized as more and more institutions begin implementing this technique.