Course Design: Student Resistance

Dealing with student resistance is tricky because, on one hand, the instructor wants to help students achieve their goals but isn’t always aware of what students want to get out of the course. On the other hand, students aren’t completely aware of what they need to be successful (see Kirschner & van Merrienboer‘s article). For example, once I overheard a student say, “I don’t know why [instructor name] makes us write all of the time. I don’t care about writing.” To me, this comment is akin to saying you don’t care about reading, a basic, everyday skill that every professional needs. 

Because my course isn’t going to be lecture-based, I worry that I will get a lot of student resistance to my teaching methods. Resistance is common in non-traditional courses, like flipped courses, because students find them more challenging at first. Students have spent years learning to succeed in traditional courses. Changing the structure of the course, especially without taking time to help students acclimate, can be difficult for them. I liked the suggestion that Fink (2009) gave for dealing with student resistant for new teaching methods:include an activity on the first day of class that is representative of the teaching methods that will be used throughout the semester. I think a representative activity that encourages feedback and reflections will help set the tone for the entire course. I think it’s important to include this activity on the first day because the majority of students will attend the first day of class, and they will learn how the course is run. Students will not have to prepare or read for the first day of class, so the environment will be low-stakes as well.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. pp. 82-92.

For more information about the course design series or more course design posts, visit the course design series introduction.


One thought on “Course Design: Student Resistance

  1. Pingback: Course Design: Series Introduction | Lauren Margulieux

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