Looking back at the differences between my high school and college education, I saw something that is lacking in my students that is not obvious to most teachers and parents. SELF-WORTH. As teachers, we want our students to succeed. Parents also want their children to succeed. Teachers and parents point out their students’ mistakes without even genuinely praising their efforts. In as much as parents and teachers want students to succeed, blatantly pointing out their mistakes contribute to their insecurities. They feel less valuable. Have you ever wondered why students hate school? Why wasn’t I a diligent student in high school?— because we get corrected, because we get ZERO’s or F’s in our exams! Aside from being condemned, we already feel like a failure. We were never praised for our efforts.
Students make mistakes and as teachers, we cannot let go of that. But as teachers, we should also not let go of the fact that the student has arrived to that mistake by thinking. So should a teacher just simply point out the student’s mistake or should he or she encourage the student to think deeper? I prefer and apply the latter.
Innovative research, communication, and collaboration are also my top three teaching strategies. During exams I allow my students to communicate with each other, to seeks the answers online, and open their notes if they have to. Why do I allow these? Because all of these resources will be available to them when they work in the industry. I believe that when a student is given the chance to collaborate (or to be straightforward, to cheat) with his or her classmate, he or she will not only copy his or her classmate’s answer, but also he or she will also be motivated to ask why is that the answer and how did his or her classmate arrive at that answer. This is when cognitive learning comes into play in the learning environment in my opinion. Take for example this multiple-choice question in my design foundation class where I allow my students to collaborate and seek answers online:
Melissa was just commissioned to design a cookbook cover. In what image format should Melissa save the cookbook cover before she prints the design?
a.gif b. jpg c.png d.tiff e.bmp
If I did not allow cheating in my exam, students would just simply guess the answer (if they didn’t know the right answer). But by allowing my students to collaborate and seek answers online, they would not only know the right answer but also the differences of these image file formats and how should they be applied in their projects.
Gamification is also highly implemented in my game programming class. As coding is not always a student’s strength, I always try to make my class as enjoyable as possible. In more than one occasion, I would usually give my students a complex programming problem and whoever is the first one to solve this problem would receive an additional grade. In fact, this scenario has been popularly termed by the students as “Sir Rexcel’s Hunger Games.”
As I have been on both sides of the spectrum in the learning environment from being the bottom student to the top honor student, I can fully empathize with all sorts of students allowing me to determine the appropriate pedagogy in order to maximize the student’s engagement in the subject matter.
In summation, my goal as a college teacher is not to compel my students to study for the sake of a high grade nor to let my students feel stupid by giving Zero’s or R’s; but rather to impart knowledge to my students successfully and efficiently through my unique pedagogy. As a teacher, I aspire that students would put their insecurities aside and recognize their self-worth by learning something new everyday.