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Why do some students learn and others don't?

Well, we are three weeks into the spring 2020 semester at USF and I find that my enthusiasm for teaching has not diminished after all of these years.  Although students have changed in many ways since I started teaching at the University of St. Francis in 1978, I still find the majority of students to be enthusiastic, willing to learn and be responsible enough to meet course deadlines.

As teachers, we should examine our teaching methods to see whether or not we are communicating well enough with our students. Let’s assume a teacher does this and adjusts his/her teaching style to meet the needs of the students.   Why, then, are the majority of the students successful on quizzes, tests, journals and performance, yet some students fail to make the grade? 

One thought is that some students are just not capable of handling the complexities of the course content.  On the other hand, I strongly believe that all students are capable of learning anything if they put their minds to it.  Some students may need more support and they request help from instructors, fellow students, tutors, counselors and resources in the Academic Resource Center.  But, some students don’t.  As much as teachers and academic advisors try to help, there are some students who fall through the cracks. 

Why do a few students choose not to:

  • show up to class on a regular basis
  • read the book they purchased
  • take the time to practice with software and equipment to develop competencies that are essential to the learning outcomes in certain courses?

Good question!  In short, I believe it all comes down to choices we make as learners.  Do we:

  • motivate ourselves
  • develop a goal to achieve a certain level of performance
  • set aside time to achieve our goal
  • monitor our behaviors on an on-going basis so we can adjust what we are doing if we fall short of our goal
  • seek out people and academic resources to provide support when necessary.

Just some thoughts to ponder about why sometimes we learn and sometimes we don’t.


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