Understanding Student Resistance

It's often unexpected and usually something of an affront: The teacher has devoted time and energy to preparing a new activity (or series of activities) for students. The teacher has opted to use the activities because they are consistent with what the research says about how students learn best. But instead of endorsing the new and exciting (at least from the teacher's perspective) learning experience, student resist. Most of the time they do so passively, with nonverbal behaviors that eloquently convey their distaste for what is occurring. Occasionally they speak to the issue directly: “We don't want to do this in groups. You need to lecture. That's what we want teachers to do.” Unfortunately this kind of resistance can often be the tipping point for teachers. If they're feeling a bit uncomfortable using the new approach, if they really enjoy, say, lecturing, if they think student objections will lead to lower course evaluations, these factors collectively or individually can be enough to persuade teachers to return to those tried-and-true instructional approaches.

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