Teaching Strategies for Reluctant Learners

How do you get through to students who are reluctant to learn? Here are some strategies that can help you teach them more effectively.

Hi there! My name is Bradley and I am the Director of Adult Education and Workforce Development here at Wonderlic. Today I am going to share with you some strategies you can use to help your reluctant learners.

Every educator will have a reluctant learner at some point in their career. While there are many reasons behind why a student becomes difficult to teach, there are certain tactics you can implement to help them be more open to learning.

First, and most importantly, you should never tell a reluctant learner that they’re a poor student. Negative feedback is one of the main reasons students become closed off to learning. In order to steer clear of this, you need to avoid giving pessimistic feedback or unconstructive criticism at all costs. Negative opinions are directly linked to a student’s self efficacy, which is in turn directly related to a student’s motivation to learn.  Self-efficacy is a person’s belief about their capability to learn and accomplish meaningful tasks. When a student is consistently receiving negative feedback, their level of self-efficacy will also be negatively impacted.

Second, you need to help alleviate any fear that a student may have in regards to learning. Many students falsely assume it’s easier, and less embarrassing, to not try, than to try and then fail. Their fear of failure can be crippling and deter them from trying at all. They’re also fearful that their peers will judge them if they try to do something new, and believe they’ll look “cool” if they show indifference about their situation. Begin each lesson with an activity that plays up their strengths and praise their work. Once they see that they can complete a task successfully, their confidence will begin to build and this will trickle into their other coursework. But be patient! This will take time. 

Third, work with the student to set up small, attainable goals. They might be reluctant because they’re feeling overwhelmed by the class as a whole.  By breaking it up for them into specific, measurable goals, they’ll see an attainable pathway to the end goal. This will also help improve their confidence and will make them more responsible for their own learning.

Overall, do not dismiss a reluctant learner as an inherently poor student. Often times there are outside factors that are severely affecting their confidence or self-efficacy, making learning difficult for them.

I want to thank you for taking the time to watch this video. I hope it gave you some food for thought when dealing with a reluctant learner. Be sure to visit our blog for more videos and helpful articles, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news and information on workplace and human resource issues, student achievement, and more!

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