Do you know the Five Rs?

Author: 
Pete Watkins, Associate Director, TLC

You have probably heard of the three Rs—“reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic”.  But have you heard of the “Five Rs” for engaging and motivating modern learners?  You do if you were one of the over 200 people who braved the impending blizzard to attend the 14th Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence sponsored by Temple’s Teaching & Learning Center.

In case you were at the supermarket stocking up on bread and milk, let me recap.  Dr. Christy Price, the 2012 Carnegie Professor of the Year, has developed the “Five Rs” as a handy mnemonic for remembering ways to engage modern learners.
 

1.     Research-based pedagogies of engagement

Use active learning techniques as problem-based learning, team-based learning, undergraduate research, and community engagement which have been shown to increase learning.


2.     Relaxed environment

Create a more caring and less rigid environment. Share a little information about yourself such as your hobbies, research interests, or why you enjoy teaching this course.  You do not need to reveal deeply personal information, but students like to know that their professor is a real person that they can relate too. 
 

3.     Relevant

Make assessments and activities relevant to students’ lives and their futures.  Help them to understand why it’s important that they learn something. Try to find natural connections between the course material and something that is important to them such as current events, popular culture, or future career plans.  If a student asks, “When are we ever going to use this?”, you should have an answer. 
 

4.     Rationales

Provide rationales for policies.  “Because I said so” just won’t cut it.  Help students understand that your policies are not arbitrary, but are there to create a safe and supportive learning environment for everyone. 
 

5.     Rapport

Building positive rapport with students has been shown to improve student learning. Try to arrive a few minutes early and/or stay a few minutes after class so that you can interact informally with students.  Ask students about their interests, career plans and hobbies?  Try to know your students’ names when feasible.  When students feel valued, they are more likely to participate in the learning experience and take risks. 

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These seem like winning strategies for working with students of any generation. What strategies do you use to engage modern learners?

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