When classroom activities are in question, most educators assume I’m talking about pre-school, elementary school, and high-school environments. They assume that when the students get to college, they should be ready to follow “serious” instructions.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: the instructions will still be serious, even when you implement some activities throughout your lectures. As I perceive it, direct instruction is much more than standing in front of the class and lecturing. Research shows that college students expect to take part in purposeful educational activities at College.
So here are my 7 activities for college professors to use in the classroom!
1. Use YouTube and Other Video Platforms
It’s not easy to keep students happy and engaged during lectures. Some of your jokes may seem forced, and they won’t cause the effects you desire. Here’s a simple activity that will definitely make everyone smile: YouTube videos. They don’t have to be educational. They just need to be related to the subject you’re teaching.
If, for example, you’re teaching your students about any scientific topic, you can easily find a NASA video that shows the practical implementation of those concepts.
YouTube is not the only platform that offers free videos. If you’re after educational content but you want it to be as engaging as possible, check out the resources from Khan Academy.
2. Teach Writing through Practical Examples
Essays and assignments make up a large part of a student’s life at college and university. Guess what: most of them really struggle with academic writing. If you include practical writing activities during the lectures, you’ll make this challenge more manageable for them. Here are few tools to help you with that:
- EssayGeeks.co.uk – a platform that connects you with real writers and editors, who can complete any kind of academic project. You may show it as a highly relevant sample that will teach the students about structure and authoritative writing style.
- Hemingway App – editing software that reminds your students to express themselves with simplicity and clarity.
- Prezi – presentation software that allows you to create impressive slides with ease. You can create slides when teaching your students how to complete a particular project, or you can suggest the tool as a great alternative to PowerPoint for their own slides.
3. Analyze Cases
If you’re teaching a marketing course, pick any brand and see how it manages its social media platform. Ask your students “what’s wrong with this example?”
You can use this strategy for any other course you might be teaching. Just choose a relevant case and turn it into a classroom activity.
4. Organize a Review Session
How about a student-centered review session? You’ll be impressed with the level of feedback you can get. Ask them what they learned from this class and what they are struggling with. This interactive session will allow them to be honest, and you’ll improve your approach throughout the rest of the course.
5. Trigger a Critical Thinking Activity
For this activity, you need few students who are brave enough to speak up. If you have a passive class, you’ll have to be the one who starts the discussion.
First, give your lecture. You already know how to make it interesting, right? Then, ask the students for their own point of view regarding a particular aspect of the matter. If, for example, you’re teaching art and you were just teaching about Van Gogh, ask for a critical opinion. If no one speaks up, share your own critique and ask them to discuss it.
You can even devote an entire class to critical thinking discussion and turn it into a Socratic seminar.
6. Turn to Freewriting
Set a topic. Ask your students to write whatever comes to their mind. Give them three minutes for this activity and set the timer on. Then, collect the “papers” so you’ll see how inspired they got. You can allow them to be anonymous, so they will be free to write whatever they want.
7. Give Them a Quiz that Won’t Affect the Grade
Before you start going through the lecture, warn your students that they will get a quiz after it. This will practically force them to pay attention, but they still won’t be overwhelmed because this quiz won’t be related to any grades.
You’ll simply tell them that you want to see how effective your teaching is and what concepts they are struggling with.
The list doesn’t end here. There are plenty of other classroom activities that can make college education more engaging. As a professor, you have a responsibility to test different approaches and find activities that work in your particular situation. Are you inspired to start?
Synap is an online education platform that is used by students and teachers all over the world to learn more in less time. If you want to find out about other education tools then check out this post of 100 tools for students and teachers.