Every year, educators face students who struggle with understanding the subject, completing the assigned tasks on their own, or just find it too hard to handle the academic rigor and participate in the class activities. Many students struggle with perpetually low academic performance, frequent absence from the class and have a negative perception of the educator and the class. One of key factors responsible for this predicament is low level of student engagement.
Educators often categorize such students as lazy, undisciplined or just not smart enough. However, that is rarely the case and with the right intervention, many if not all such students can show tremendous improvement and perform as good as any of their peers. Having said that, supporting struggling students is a quite complex task in itself and there are a few specific ideas which work better than any others. One strategy which works best is by encouraging students towards collaborative problem solving.
Nowadays, the field of education is advancing rapidly. Especially since the coronavirus pandemic, when schools and college campuses were shut down, locking millions of students and educators across the entire nation out of the classroom, novel modes of teaching such as online class have become more popular. Among various advantages which e-learning provides such as increased flexibility, greater affordability, scalability and likewise, it also provides educators with the opportunity to promote increased interaction and collaboration among the students.
Apart from encouraging class discussion and collaboration in a live class, educators can also persuade the students to collaborate with their peers on online student forums, chat rooms and discussion boards. However, collaborative problem solving with struggling students should remain top priority for educators to help such students to excel in their academics. In order to do it effectively, we present you with a three-step process. Follow the steps discussed below to help the struggling students in your class….
Communicate to pinpoint the root cause-
Educators should try to maintain an open communication channel with the struggling students in order to ascertain the root causes of their poor performance in the classroom. Even though it might seem like a simple enough task, it can be a quite complex process as the factors causing a student to struggle in the classroom can vary wildly and will more often than not, include personal factors tinkering with which might touch a nerve and make the students uncomfortable in sharing any further. One way of successfully identifying the root cause of students’ problems is by observing their behavior in the class and then discussing your observations with them, seeking out inputs from them in the process such as if they believe your observations to be valid and the reasons, they think, which could explain their own behavior and actions. In order to successfully complete Step 1, educators need to be as specific as possible in identifying student behavior and actions in the class.
Spell out the impact of behavior-
Once you identify the student’s behavior and reasons for the same, the next step is to explain to them the impact their behavior and actions have on them as well as the classroom environment. This will help the students recognize the effects of their behavior and empathize with their classmates. It will create a sense of responsibility in the student’s mind towards their own learning and that of others in the class. This step would lay down a solid base for collaborative classroom activities by sensitizing the struggling students to the impact of their behavior on collective student learning in the class.
Collaborative Problem Solving-
This is the final step of our solution. Once the struggling student’s behavior and its impacts are laid out and the student now realizes the effects of their behavior on their individual as well as collective learning outcomes of the whole class, you are all set to create an action plan. Unlike traditional methods of intervention, here the struggling student owns a big chunk of the responsibility as opposed to the educator leading the way. In short, the student decides for themself, why and what they need to do in order to get back on track. The educator’s role is just to provide support, guidance and ensure that the objectives and expectations are realistic and achievable.
Getting struggling students back on track can be a major challenge for the educators. The intervention method discussed above works like a charm as it ensures that the student is actively involved in the process of self-improvement from the get go which makes the student much more likely to follow through on the plan of action which they collectively chalked out with little help and support from their teachers.