Insights from Today s Student

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1 Insights from Today s Student The Not-So-Powerful PowerPoint : Students Weigh the Best Classes against the Worst ENGAGED WITH YOU cengage.com

2 White Paper: The Not-So-Powerful PowerPoint : Students Weigh the Best Classes against the Worst At Cengage Learning, we believe that engagement is the foundation of learning. Engagement is at our core and our focus is on engaging with learners, both in the classroom and beyond, to ensure the most effective product design, learning solutions and personalized services all to help people learn. We understand that an engaged learner is a successful one and we are leading the transition to digital with a unique faculty AND student perspective to transform learning through engagement. Our name itself reinforces this core commitment engage is at the center of all we do. The Today s Student project by Cengage Learning is based on original research that springs from our company s commitment to gaining insights directly from students. We surveyed and interviewed 5,000 students traditional and non-traditional, from four-year and two-year colleges for their impressions of success, career prospects, technology, courses, and obstacles to achieving academic goals. In this report, Cengage Learning explores how students define their best and worst classes and uncovers the criteria that influenced this ranking. Student comments largely spoke to the importance of active learning using technology to complement instructor interaction. Key findings: As students see it, the best classes provide knowledge and skills that tie directly to their definition of success. Given that 69% of students are focused on getting a job, the importance of connecting the curriculum to their perception of job-related skills is critical. Technology plays a large role in the classroom but interactivity is key. How Students Define Their Best Classes Not surprisingly, the instructor was an integral part in what makes best experiences so positive; 83% of best-class professors received an A from their students. Comments spoke to active learning a combination of instructor engagement and the sensible use of technology: 2 ENGAGED WITH YOU cengage.com

3 I will never forget the first thing she said: You are all adults here, so I am not going to be reading the text to you; the same with PowerPoint. Our class time will be spent working on real life cases and audits. She came in expecting our best and she received our best in return. The professor was engaging and genuinely cared about students and was encouraging and supportive. The class was interactive and more than just opening a book or watching PowerPoint. This was one of the first classes that I have had where the teacher really cared about us learning what the course was all about. The best classes, according to the 5,000 students in the study, also combined exams, in-class tests/quizzes, discussion, and textbook reading. What Makes the Worst Class? Descriptions of the worst classes frequently pointed to lecture-based lessons that lacked engagement or originality. In particular, an over-reliance on PowerPoint triggered several negative reactions: It was all PowerPoint learning. She read from the [slides] word for word. I did not understand why I was paying so much for a class when I could just read on my own. The worst class I took was solely based on PowerPoint and self-teaching. If I wanted to teach myself I would ve done online degree courses. [My] law professor crammed everything onto a PowerPoint and would read it word for word. She was dryer than a saltine cracker. Other descriptions of worst classes include having the class as a requirement, having uninteresting content, or dealing with difficult material. Among the worst classes, the average assignment rate was 4.3 assignments per semester which does not provide students with as many practice opportunities as classes with more assignments and activities. Among the worst instructors, 43% received a D or F grade from students. Students Speak Out: Best Class I will never forget the first thing she said: You are all adults here, so I am not going to be reading the text to you; the same with PowerPoint. Our class time will be spent working on real life cases and audits. She came in expecting our best and she received our best in return.. cengage.com ENGAGED WITH YOU 3

4 Getting Students into the Conversation Students Speak Out: Worst Class Interaction in the classroom spurs student interest. Students say they get much more out of a class discussion than they do from listening to a lecture. Discussion-based classes are cited as students best more than two times more frequently 22% (best) compared to 9% (worst). Conversely, lecture-based classes, where students have less opportunity to interact, were most often cited as worst (54%). It was all Figure 1. PowerPoint learning. She read from the [slides] word for word. I Discussion 9% 22% did not understand why I was paying so much for a class when I could just read on my own. Laboratory 3% 6% Lecture 42% 54% Online/Lecture Hybrid 18% 21% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Best Class Worst Class 4 ENGAGED WITH YOU cengage.com

5 The Role of Technology Students are enthusiastic about bringing technology into an active-learning classroom. From laptops to discussion boards to videos and mobile devices, online resources rank well in best class rankings. Figure 2. Learning Technologies in Best Class. Students assigned a letter grade to the various learning technologies used in what they described as their best class. Students Speak Out: Best Class Grade: A Grade: B Grade: C Grade: D Grade: F Don t Know/ N/A Laptop Online LMS PowerPoint Smartphone Discussion Board Tablet Videos The professor was engaging and genuinely cared about students and was encouraging and supportive. The class was interactive and more than just opening a book or watching PowerPoint.. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Percent of students responding cengage.com ENGAGED WITH YOU 5

6 Figure 3. Learning Technologies in Worst Class. Students assigned a letter grade to the various learning technologies used in what they described as their worst class. Students Speak Out: Worst Class [My] law professor crammed everything onto a PowerPoint and would read it word for word. She was dryer than a saltine cracker. Grade: A Grade: B Grade: C Grade: D Grade: F Laptop Online LMS PowerPoint Smartphone Discussion Board Tablet Videos Don t Know/ N/A Percent of students responding Among worst classes, students were largely disengaged with technology, with Don t Know/Not Applicable characterizing the majority of responses. Lessons for the Instructor Based on the feedback of 5,000 college students, it s increasingly clear that today s learners respond to active learning techniques, such as in-class discussion and multiple application activities, and they confidence from knowing their instructors are fully engaged and invested in student success. At the same time, technology that serves a purpose from reinforcing course concepts to providing immediate feedback on assignments enhances the live classroom experience in a way no PowerPoint slide could ever match. 6 ENGAGED WITH YOU cengage.com

7 cengage.com ENGAGED WITH YOU 7

8 Cengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning, and research solutions for academic, professional, and library markets worldwide. The company s products and services are designed to foster academic excellence and professional development, increase engagement, improve learning outcomes, and deliver authoritative information to people whenever and wherever they need it. Through the company s unique position within both the library and academic markets, Cengage Learning is providing integrated learning solutions that bridge from the library to the classroom. Source Code: M ISBN: The Work Institute LLC is a leader in workforce intelligence combining workforce research, human capital analytics and financial metrics to provide decision support intelligence to help companies attract, hire and retain talent, improve performance, diminish risk and manage human capital cost. The Work Institute specializes in measuring, understanding and predicting workforce behaviors. Copyright 2015 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.

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