I highly recommend reading Maryellen Weimer’s “Feeling Unable to Learn” addition in Teaching Professor Blog.
Weimer shares her difficulty with technology and frustration when trying to learn a new email system–her frustration, sense of isolation, embarrassment and lack of control.
Weimer’s experience speaks to my own personal experience as a mature student who returned to university in my 30s. I felt frustration, isolation, and insecurity, but I persevered. Why? Deep down, I knew I would be successful. I believed that I could learn.
Day after day, I see students struggling to believe. Some have never been challenged. When they eventually are challenged, which often happens in first-year university, they may feel excited or devastated. They may avoid the challenge and stick with what they know. Students may be on the other end of the spectrum, never having experienced success. Many students, when they are successful, may not acknowledge the success and only focus on what they haven’t done or on others who are more successful.
Instilling or strengthening students’ belief that they can learn, that being uncomfortable means that they’re growing, and that learning may involve risk drives my teaching. I strive to help students acknowledge their successes, see learning as a courageous endeavour, and feel empowered in the process.
As one of the content developers of our online Academic-Zone modules, I wanted students to feel empowered by using the modules. I wanted students who were struggling with essay writing to have the language to talk about their strengths and weaknesses and to not be embarrassed to seek next steps (and hopefully to actually show someone their writing!). How often have we wanted to hide our essay at the bottom of the pile?
I welcome your comments! 🙂
Margaret Groombridge BA, BEd, MEd
Lead Designer, Academic-Zone
Assistant Manager, Brock Learning Services, Student Development Centre