Winter is hard on old-lady hands. Between washing dishes, scrubbing hands to ward off winter illnesses, and forgetting my gloves, my hands are dry and peeling, a fact brought literally into sharp focus when I glanced at the image projected by my Elmo during a demonstration in class. Aack! Get that woman some lotion!
hand cream (Photo credit: janineomg)
The problem is, she already has lotion….jars and bottles and tubes of it, in her desk and her purse and her nightstand and her bathroom. The lotion is everywhere but on her hands. Why is this so?
- She’s too busy to put it on, or thinks she is.
- She has trouble remembering to use it.
- She is inconsistent in her application when she does remember it.
- She thinks her hands are already beyond help.
- She doesn’t like the format: too greasy, wrong fragrance, etc.
- She’s tried lotions before with disappointing results. Aren’t they all the same stuff?
This led me to consider my students. I use a web-based learning program that has a dazzling array of tools to help students learn. I also post potentially helpful tools on BlackBoard, provide links and mnemonics during class, and allot class time for active learning. Still, some students struggle. As with my lotion, the resources only work when they are actually used. So why don’t students use them?
No surprises here: They’re too busy; they don’t remember what or where the tools are; they use them inconsistently; they feel they’re beyond help; they don’t like the format; they have tried other tools with disappointing results. What’s a teacher to do?
I find the “Try it, you’ll like it” approach works best. Not every student benefits from every resource, but there should be something on the plate that everyone likes. I discovered a new tool on my web-based program this weekend, and I knew that students were preparing for a big exam Monday. I sent a class email pointing the way to the game-like activity (it was quite challenging!), and soon received a reply from a student who found it to be just the ticket.
Lest we be too quick to chide our students for their reluctance to utilize all the resources they have, let’s do a bit of self-assessment. Are we ever dismissive of potentially valuable strategies for the same reasons? Do we fail to use the resources we already have in a consistent manner?
Now, to find some of that lotion….
Do you have a strategy to encourage students to use the resources that you provide? Please share them with us.