It is important to make classroom a lively and comfortable place to study. It is a challenge for any academic to create an interest in learning among students because not all subjects can engage everyone. Through careful curriculum designs, however, the use of various teaching methods may improve student engagement and create a different classroom environment.
I have always believed that student engagement is important in motivating students to love and understand a subject. Studies have shown that effective learning experiences are shaped by student-teacher relationships that support the development of young peoples’ social and emotional competencies. Student engagement is usually linked to student satisfaction and the quality of student experience. Many institutions including Sunway University have started putting in place a virtual learning environment through blended or online deliveries.
From my experience as a lecturer, I used to bring students from the university to the Sunway Pyramid Mall and get them to relate their experience to the subject they are learning. One such example is creating effective advertisements for retail outlets available in the mall. I also take advantage of Sunway University’s vast football field to hold discussions, lectures and even tutorials with students. The change of scenery can create a different and positive learning atmosphere among students.
Researchers have also shown that active learning can be one way of making students understand a particular subject. In the modern era where students are native to technologies such as the Internet, academics may use activities in the classroom that require them to use technologies to find information and complete given tasks.
Some of the activities conducted in my classes that implement the active learning technique include role playing and storyboard presentations related to advertising. These activities are different from the traditional teaching and learning technique since students are not just passively receiving information from lecturers.
Apart from active learning, I have also opted for transformative learning to ensure students understanding the subject they are learning. Through transformative learning, students will express their feelings and expectations through their experience. I have always encouraged students to express their feelings towards a particular topic during every lecture to understand any problem they have in understanding the topic. I then do my best to help ease their difficulty.
I also always get my students to present in my marketing class, since I believe marketers need to be strong and convincing communicators. By applying new knowledge and skills developed from learning, students will naturally build their level of confidence. Furthermore, I believe it is important for academics to understand the best way to assist students in gaining self-awareness through discussions.
A study has shown that there is a cultural difference in learning between Asian and Western students. Students in the West are trained to be more independent compared to those in Asia. In Asia, students are more dependent on lecturers whereby lecturers are expected to provide all necessary studying materials. Asian students are also more passive in learning, and tend to memorise the content taught by lecturers instead of understanding it. It will be of benefit to students in the future if academics join hands in eliminating the traditional way of teaching and initiates active learning and transformative learning.
Let’s make the classroom an enjoyable place to study!
Dr Izian Idris
Department of Marketing
Originally published in The Edge, January 2019