Inviting students to join in the learning process can be literal—as when a faculty member greets students at the door on the first day—or figurative.

Students—particularly those who have just graduated from high school—tend to think learning is just a process of dumping information from instructor to student. One of the most important things an undergraduate student can come to realize in college is that learning is a lifelong process in which they must be actively engaged and which requires a commitment to developing and applying critical thinking skills and habits of mind. True, a considerable amount of knowledge will pass from instructor to student. But the real beauty of higher education is learning critical thinking skills, such as how to analyze, synthesize, and critique information—in other words, learning how to learn.

Early in the semester, begin to invite students into the learning process by:

  • explaining critical thinking skills and periodically reminding students which skills they are applying;
  • explaining that you are a guide in the educational process, but that learning is up to them;
  • periodically reminding them that “the ball is in their court”; and
  • indicating how you learn from them.

A very effective way of inviting students to become actively engaged in their own learning process is the Four Questions Assignment. [LINK]