Why Won’t They Ask Us for Help?

This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on March 29, 2016. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. 

After teaching statistics classes for more than 25 years and seeing so many students struggling to be successful, I became increasingly frustrated by the fact that no matter how much I believed myself to be approachable, available, and willing to help students outside of class, very few took advantage of the opportunity. I began to wonder not only what barriers existed between me and my students but also how to investigate those barriers and seek solutions.

Students are often reluctant to seek academic help from their instructors, despite the fact that many of them could benefit from the help. Teachers are being encouraged to develop supportive relationships with students, and most are willing to do so. In the case of students seeking help, what we need is clear information about those teacher

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Three Ways to Prime Students for Learning

Are there parts of your course you wish could be taught more effectively?
Would you like to prepare students for learning material with which they tend to struggle?
Do you want to help students transition effectively from one learning activity to another?

Priming your students will provide solutions to these questions. Read on for three useful ways to improve student learning.


Priming is a strategy that introduces a new topic to students in a way that facilitates their academic learning because they know what they can expect. Priming prepares students for upcoming information or a learning activity before they receive the information or participate in the activity in a course. Priming exposes students to new material in a way that influences their learning behavior later, without them necessarily being aware.

According to cognitive psychology, priming is a process in which we use a mental framework (or schema) to organize

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Improvising Great Classroom Discussion | Faculty Focus

This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on May 18, 2017. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. 

I was watching a video of several of my students teaching this week. I had to be away for a conference, and they were scheduled to teach that day anyway, so I asked our Center for Teaching Excellence to record it. I would evaluate them later. Although most of the students in the class are planning to be English teachers, it’s not an education class. For that reason, I planned to pay closer attention to the content and preparation than to their actual pedagogy.

However, as I watched the video, I kept noticing places where discussion would be on the verge of beginning, only to see it die almost immediately. The students were prepared, and they were often asking the types of questions we want them to ask. Why did the discussion

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