Student Behavior in Class

Editor’s Note: this is a guest post from Darrell Stiffler

What Type of Student are you?

I have always felt that generalizations and categorizations of groups of people are unfair. However, I do see the benefit when trying to get a point across. I have attended and taught many classes throughout my professional career and have identified three types of student attitudes. I must admit, at some point in my life and training, I have exhibited all the different types of attitudes. Hopefully, with a little maturity I have made a conscience decision to become more of an “Engaged” type of student for reasons I will introduce in the summary.

The three attitudes of students when they come to class, in my experience, are:

1) The Voyeur:

a. Voyeur is slightly engaged in the class activities.

b. Voyeur is a little late for class because of an event that happened which was out of their control, i.e. traffic, had to stop for gas etc.

c. Listens intermittently to lecture; obviously distracted by thoughts of work and family.

d. Voyeurs believe they are very good at multi-tasking. They feel they can listen to lecture, read the slides, type emails and keep their eyes on the cell phone for text messages.

e. Eye contact with instructor is limited; eyes glance at slides and back and forth to laptop screen or cell phone.

f. Voyeur is generally late coming back from break and lunch.

g. Observes what is written on the white board but rarely writes anything down.

h. Does not comment or contribute to dialog in the class discussions.

i. Does not commit to learning anything, just wants to “get a little information on the subject.”

j. Gives little effort on exercises or does not contribute to group assignments.

k. Frequently interrupted by cell phone calls, text messages or emails during class.

Results: Is not pleased with class material or instructor. Student feels that they received very little out of class. The class was not what they wanted.

2) The Participant:

a. Participant is engaged most of the time.

b. Participant usually gets to class on time.

c. Participant listens most of the time but mind drifts to job and family occasionally during lecture or exercises.

d. Believes they can multi-task but does not attempt to do so in class.

e. Eye contact on instructor most of the time and glances at slides occasionally.

f. Generally back from lunch and break on time or within a minute or two.

g. Reads white board and writes down what is written.

h. Enters into dialog when questions are asked.

i. Interested in improving skills if not too much effort to do so.

j. Participates in exercises as long as they are easy and do not require a lot of work.

k. Checks emails and cell calls on break and lunch.

Results: Likes class material and instructor. They think it is a good class and has picked up some ideas on how to improve their situation at work so that they can be more productive. Would recommend others take the class.

3) The Engaged:

a. The Engaged student is immersed in class.

b. The Engaged student shows up for class early.

c. The Engaged student listens intently.

d. Knows that multi-tasking cannot be done successfully and realizes that concentration on class is their primary responsibility at this time.

e. The Engaged student keeps eye contact on instructor when they are speaking and reads every slide if time permits. Student realizes that they could go back and read slide material in book later but only has one chance to hear what instructor has to say.

f. Comes back from lunch and breaks a few minutes early, just to be sure that they do not miss anything. Takes care of necessities at break, gets refreshments, brings it back to classroom, and reads material that has been covered or will be covered next.

g. Not only reads the material on the board but also writes it down and tries to understand it. Asks questions if material is not understood.

h. Tries to understand all questions that are asked. The Engaged student not only tries to understand a question that was asked, but why it was asked and what other questions could be asked in association with it.

i. Student has committed to changing approach to improve job performance. Student understands that change is not easy or comfortable. Realizes that it will take practice and a conscience effort to change and improve.

j. Makes every effort to do exercises at a detailed level as allowed by time, and goes back to exercise after class and finishes it. If exercise is unclear, student will ask instructor for clarification.

k. Checks email and phone messages at lunch. Student does not allow events back at work to distract from learning efforts.

Results: Loves class and instructor. Highly recommends class to others. Student is eager to get back to work and share their learning experience with others. Student wants to talk to Boss right away about implementing changes for improvement.

The facts are that every student will be in the classroom about the same amount of time and miss the same amount of time from work. There is no difference in the course material or the cost of the course. Instructor will put about the same amount of time in preparing for the course. The investment in the student is not trivial and the return on investment can be substantial. The Engaged student is more productive and of greater value to the company that paid for the course. The Engaged student will probably get promotions and pay raises.

The next time you are a student, try the Engaged student’s attitude, and you will be rewarded. If not in any other way, you will feel better about yourself.

Author: Darrell Stiffler


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