How do I get my students to be continuous learners?
How do I combine self-study and attendance time?
Motivating students to learn continuously outside of face-to-face sessions is a challenge, even in small classes. This becomes even more acute in large events: For the students, the chance of being able to present themselves and their knowledge to the instructors decreases, or the risk of being discovered as “non-learners” decreases as well.
Basically, self-study appears to be a great unknown, of which instructors get little notice. However, an interesting insight into student self-study in Bachelor’s and Master’s programs is provided by one of the most high-profile higher education didactic studies of recent years, the ZEITlast study (R. Schulmeister/C. Metzger). As part of the study, students documented how they used their time every day for a semester. Three results should be highlighted here:
- The time spent on self-study varied extremely among students in the same program – some engineering students studied as little as 6 hours per week, while others studied up to 30 hours.
- The way of learning differs just as much – some students read most of the time, others mainly calculate tasks, still others look for exchange in working groups.
- Learning is mainly done before the exam.
- It would seem desirable to encourage as many students as possible to engage in independent study while at the same time spreading it out better over the semester. This possibility certainly exists: through the design of their own course, teachers can influence the timing and scope of self-study.
This can also be implemented in large events. To do this, it is first necessary to think about self-study from the outset in one’s own course planning and then to give students precise instructions on what they should do between sessions – e.g., which text they should read or that they should calculate certain tasks. It is then important not to leave students alone with their self-study. A simple solution is, for example, to be approachable for questions yourself within the framework of a Stud.IP forum or to motivate students to answer each other’s questions (online platform).
Ultimately, however, it is crucial to integrate the students’ self-study (e.g.