Do I Need to Spoon Feed Them?

No, but you do need to help them learn.

A common complaint I hear from students is that their teacher doesn’t explain things well. It may be that the instructor actually explains things extremely well. However, students learn by more than hearing. They want to see how problems are solved, and they need practice solving problems themselves. These represent the three primary ways in which students (or anyone, you and me included) learn. Read on. ..... (read more)

Students Who Lack Math Skills

They just don’t add up … or do they?

( Updated March 1, 2010, with a 7th recommendation )

Faculty members at two-year colleges and at universities confront a similar situation each and every term. They have students in their classes who lack the prerequisite knowledge or skills required to be successful. In this post, I am going to focus on students who lack basic math skills. (Scroll rapidly down to the bottom of this post if you want to get to my recommendations quickly. ..... (read more)

The Times They Are a Changin’

You didn’t sign up to be a counselor, or did you?

The current state of the economy, unemployment at double-digit levels, and the winter blahs (a.k.a. seasonal affective disorder or SAD) are all converging on us.  Metaphorically, we are flying over an educational version of the Bermuda Triangle!  This past week I talked to a number of people – students, parents of students, faculty and counselors – and we are all experiencing fallout of these tough times.  First and foremost, we must remember and be sensitive to how these factors affect our students. ..... (read more)

When Funny Turns to Disruptive

The Case of the Cantankerous Canary

Even the most benign student behaviors may need to be addressed.  Here is an example.

An experienced Earth Science adjunct came to my office to ask me for advice.  She was teaching in a tiered classroom which was filled to its capacity with 48 students.  It seemed that one young man was far more interested in getting laughs from his classmates than learning about plate tectonics.  The instructor told me that when she turned to write something on the white board he made bird calls.  This quickly went from funny to disrespectful and disruptive.  “What should I do?” my instructor asked. ..... (read more)