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What Students Are Saying About Learning Today

How can teachers connect more authentically with students?

To answer this question (and many more), we invited students to share their thoughts—and advice—with instructors at Education Summit ‘22.

Their candid responses painted a clear picture of the challenges they face—and how teachers can help.

Editor’s note: These are real student insights from two panels held at Course Hero’s Education Summit ’22. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Learning can be personal, even in large classes.

I had a professor help engage students in an asynchronous environment by breaking up the class—and this was a larger class—so he broke us up into study groups where we were allowed to ask each other homework questions.

He encouraged us to make a group chat to reach out to each other, and then at the end of the semester, we turned in a written paper together, and that was our cumulative project. 

I think putting us into those groups and encouraging us to use each other as a resource was helpful.

– Kinsey H., Student

Learning is teaching.

My virtual classes tend to be student-led, and we would get assigned specific readings and chapters, and we would have to present them throughout the week. 

That would force us to engage with the material early on because we knew our grades were dependent on us doing a presentation for the class. As a student, having the responsibility to teach a portion of the class made you feel engaged, especially for those 8 a.m. Zoom calls.

– Muna S., Student

Learning is adaptable.

I think it’s good for instructors to let their students know that the skills learned in class are applicable to more than just one field. For example, if you are taking an HR class where you are learning about capability building, that’s a skill that can be used across multiple fields, not just human resources.

Expanding your team capabilities can apply to multiple roles. Engineering majors, accounting majors, and all types of majors can benefit from learning how to motivate their team and build their capability toolkit.

– Noah H., Student

Learning is flexible.

A professor I absolutely loved had an online class where she basically had assignments due every week, but each student only had to complete eight of those assignments, so we were able to pick and choose which ones fit our schedules.

We still had to go to the discussions and do the readings that pertained to other assignments, but we were able to choose assignments that worked best for our schedules, and that helped a lot. 

I struggle with an invisible chronic illness, so I often have problems with turning assignments in on time. I told my professor that this is the only class I’ve ever had where I did not have to use my accommodations a single time—and that was just because she set up her assignments to work for everybody.

– Kinsey H., Student

Learning happens on TikTok.

I had a course that was designed for taking the CPA exam. I was looking at TikTok videos outside of class that showed me tips and tricks from other people who have taken the CPA.

My TikTok feed started showing related videos due to me looking up stuff like that. I’d recommend teachers show TikTok videos like that during the lecture, or share them on the LMS. I’d also recommend students share TikToks they find helpful with their professors, so they know what resonates with other students.

– Daniel G., Student

Learning is collaborative.

Encourage your students to do homework together actively. I had a class where the instructor had us work on homework in pairs.

Working with a classmate allowed both of us to understand what we knew and where we could help the other person. It’s like the old adage that says you don’t truly understand something until you are able to teach it to somebody else.

These homework activities encouraged a collaborative dynamic, which helped with student engagement. We were also able to work together to understand how we got to our solutions.

– Kinsey H., Student

Learning means not being afraid to ask for help.

A lot of students feel awkward or don’t even know how they can benefit from office hours.

I would recommend something simple like giving five bonus points to students if they come to your office hours. It’s a way to gamify office hours by offering an incentive.

Sometimes it pushes students to realize, “Oh, I actually do need this kind of help,” and it motivates them to go to office hours and form a relationship with their teacher.

It might seem strange to give five extra credit points in a college course, but if it can help you as the teacher build a connection with your student, why not try it?

– Valerie T., Student

As a first-generation student, I work paid internships and at a local grocery store just to be able to pay my tuition.

My professors would sometimes feel as if I’m distracted from class, and the truth is, I was distracted—because I was so focused on making sure I could afford to come back to school next semester.

One thing professors often forget is that—as a professor—you are able to go home at the end of the day.

But for a lot of students, especially those of us at a residential college, my home is my school, so my home for the next four years is Franklin and Marshall College because that is where I eat, sleep, and study. 

My biggest piece of advice for teachers and professors is to recognize when a student is being vulnerable enough to come to you with a problem. Sometimes they don’t want a solution; oftentimes they just want you to be aware that there is something going on in their life.

– Muna S., Student

Learning is human.

Something that really stuck with me this last semester was a professor who went through the rules of the class and the important dates on the syllabus—but the last sentence on his syllabus said something like, “Despite these being the rules of my classroom, I am a human and will respond to any and all student concerns or problems with compassion and understanding.”

And that really set the tone for the class. As someone with a chronic illness who has accommodations, that made me feel so welcome in the classroom.

– Kinsey H., Student

Learning means connecting to an assignment.

My professor gives an assignment that is due within 24 hours after a lecture. 

Because I know the assignment is coming, it definitely helps me stay focused and alert while identifying certain pieces of information.

One of my art teachers, for example, would have us do something as simple as taking a photo in front of a certain type of architecture. It helps students feel more connected to the assignment, and it helps with long-term retention.

– Madison I., Student

Learning means acknowledging.

Students are observing professors and teachers just as much as they are observing us. One thing we notice as students is when teachers make eye contact with us and see that we are struggling. 

I had a professor one time in the middle of class see me all confused, listening to this math problem I did not understand, and he looked at me and was like, “How can I help? What part of this is not making sense?” 

It was a little bit embarrassing at first, but it really helped me be able to understand that I’m allowed to ask questions. In that case, other students were confused, too, because other people came up to me later and said they weren’t getting it either.

– Kinsey H., Student

Watch the student panels and the rest of Education Summit ’22 on demand here.

Share your thoughts

  1. Here is what my students said after completing Bmed 1100.90

    • When starting the Introduction to BMED course, the first thing we had to do was the Gallup Strengths Test…When starting this class, I was set on becoming a Biomedical Engineer. But after taking my Strengths test and being exposed to other engineers, I have changed my mind on a direction I never knew I would enjoy.

    • The StrengthsFinders assessment for me was something that intrigued me at the beginning of the semester, but admittedly I didn’t think I would find it as interesting as I do now. Every day since I took the test, I have seen my strengths in action.

    • Being in this class for the last 2 months has taught me more about the medical device field, than I have learned being in the industry for 5 years. I have learned that there are so many different areas in the field that you can be in and so many different jobs you can choose from, once you find that niche.

    • The biggest shock to me was just how important it was to be networking and using LinkedIn. There was only so many times that I could be told by presenters that I need to start networking before I had to accept that it’s going to be a necessary skill.

    • When I started this class, I had a completely wrong perception of what I was going to be
    doing. I thought this class was going to be an introduction to the math and engineering skills
    that would be required to develop the medical devices. It was a pleasant surprise to
    find out that the class was an introduction to the business side of the biomedical device
    industry. For me, I hate doing the business side of any job and just want to go straight into the
    workmanship side of an industry. For this reason, I feel it was considerably more important for
    me to be in this class and must do the side of business that I dislike so much.

    • I definitely have a place in the biomedical industry, it is just the choice of where I would like to be. It is quite exciting to have all these different options to make this choice of what to do next.

    • Wade Demmer’s presentation was maybe the biggest highlight of the year for me. I may work for Medtronic, but I will never pass up an opportunity to learn more about the company and that is exactly what he did. His extremely detailed presentation on defibrillators and how they work was something I never thought I would be interested in.

    • This class did a fantastic job outlining some of the different fields that you can work in Medical Device. It showed me what fields I might like to be in, but it also showed me which fields I would not like to be in. The main areas that intrigued me were the Technicians, Quality, and Engineering.

    • This class has helped me see that just having connections where I work now is not enough and that I’ll need to attend more events both as a potential speaker and as a listener to learn more about how others handled problems and how they felt something could be done in the field From the different guest speakers, we learned … why and how they got into this field, their contributions, and their passion for doing the job everyday give us the motivation to be part of something great and unique. Knowing what I will be part of by doing and helping in changing and saving the lives of people all over the world makes it worth being in this program.

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