Students work hard. When they work hard and get the results they are looking for (or better), they usually find their own way to celebrate. I’ve had student let out a big “whoop” in class when they see that they have earned a really good grade. I’ve heard stories about students taking their papers or tests home and putting them on the refrigerator right next to their kids.
In our Statistics classes, Sherry McCormack and I have our students do projects throughout the course. Near the end of each semester, we designate a week for our students to present their work. We reserve a place on campus and invite the campus (employees and students) to come and look at the work they have done.
I’ve seen great pride in the work that they do in order to make their display look nice. I’ve noticed how excited and proud they seem when people come up and take an interest in what they have done. Statistics is such a broad field of study that students can quite often use a favorite movie, book, hobby, skill, etc to create their project. They are happy to be able to show off what they can do. We have had students bring their job into their project. We have had students use current events or a cause they believe in to share information. We have students who highlight their friends and family members.
This semester was the first time I allowed my students to choose which project they wanted to display (in the past they all had to use a particular one). As I was preparing them for this, I talked to each one and made suggestions on which one I thought would be the best to display. Quite often, the student smiled and said “Good…that’s the one that I wanted to share.” Other students have disagreed with me as to which one they wanted to present……I deferred to their enthusiasm J
In addition to our regular statistics display, we have several bulletin board and other places on campus where we can display good work and projects. We both think it is important for our students to be able to share their hard work. Quite often the work they do in their classes is only for a grade for that class. It is important for students to know that the skills and information that they are learning in their classes is material that should be shared. When students can see that their hard work is valued and appreciated, I believe it does make them work harder.
It’s great to see the pride in their work. I would encourage all teachers to find a forum for their own students to be able to share their creativity and efforts. It pays off in so many ways.