Students learn better in informal environment

New York, June 28 (IANS) Students tend to learn and perform better in an informal environment rather than in a rigid classroom atmosphere, reveals an experiment.

A Baylor University sociologist who reshaped “test day” in his class — transforming it with balloons, streamers, treats and music — found that students in “learning celebrations” scored higher than students who took standard-style exams in previous semesters.

Each “celebration” includes 30 to 40 multiple-choice questions, with classmates featured in many of the questions.

“Students seem to appreciate reading about each other in the ‘celebrations’,” said Kevin Dougherty, an associate professor of sociology at the Baylor University, Texas.

Students were initially sceptical but we gently reminded them that no such activities occur in our course, he said.

In a previous research, Dougherty found that students, who used a Facebook group as part of a large sociology class, did better on course assignments and felt a stronger sense of belonging.

Both studies have implications for the challenge of teaching large classes, a matter of growing concern for higher education.

The findings were published in Teaching/Learning Matters.

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