Course Is It?
Promoting Student Engagement and Responsibility"
Marva A. Barnett
Margaret-Ann Kassen, ed., Language Learners of Tomorrow: Process
and Promise. Report of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching
of Foreign Languages. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook, 1999:
often complain that students miss class and neither prepare, participate,
nor care about learning. When students are relegated to the sidelines
because the teacher decides everything, they have little motivation
to work hard in the course. But students who take responsibility
for learning work harder, know other students better, and contribute
and learn more. Collaboration between the teacher and students-the
teacher's recognizing students' knowledge, talents, and possible
contributions-promotes student responsibility. It is also an organizing
principle for the current paradigm shift from teacher as purveyor
of information to teacher as facilitator of learning.
article provokes readers to recognize how much teachers have traditionally
taken responsibility for a course and to grapple with the challenge
of modifying instructor attitudes toward their courses. Once instructors
recognize the value of the collaborative model, they need to communicate
it-sell it, at times-to their students in order to promote better
learning through greater commitment. On the practical side, this
article will offer examples of how certain teaching approaches
and classroom assessment techniques can work toward this end:
for instance, organizing discussions around students' questions,
listening carefully to students' ideas, developing their ideas
in productive directions, provoking students' thinking during
lectures, using e-mail to continue dialogue outside class, facilitating
students' work on the World-Wide Web, draft writing and peer editing,
establishing cooperative teams, communicating high standards and
expectations, alerting students to their ways of learning and
to effective learning techniques. Students' comments about this
approach are included.