students believe about science and scientists affects what they hear, what they believe, how they study, and what they learn. Good teaching requires that we bridge the chasms of perception, language, background, and assumption that may impede effective communication and thereby hinder student learning.
Knowledge about students will enable the teacher to refine lectures, class discussions, comments, illustrations, and activities so that they are more effective learning experiences. References to student interests, backgrounds, knowledge, and even anxieties can make the class seem more personal and the material more accessible.
Tips for Learning Students' Names
Our special efforts to get to know students' names can enhance their self-esteem and promote class participation. Most of us are overwhelmed by a large number of new faces and new names. However, memory of names and faces often can be triggered by associating them with some activity or event, such as a discussion after class about an assignment or the outcome of an examination. One way to create such memory jogging events for names and faces is to ask students to write a half-page self-description or to introduce themselves to the class with a statement of their interests or goals. In return, we should offer our own statements of interests, reasons for teaching the course, and goals and expectations. If your class enrolls fewer than 40 students, call roll for several class meetings at the beginning of the term to help you learn names. During the term, call students by name when you return homework or quizzes, and use names frequently in class. Ask students who are not called upon by name to identify themselves.
Office hours or problem solving sessions offer opportunities to get to know your students. Clearly defined and observed office hours mean a great deal to some students. If you offer to communicate with students by e-mail or voice mail, it is a good idea to tell them when the mail is checked and how quickly they can expect a response.
Teachers should state their expectations clearly. If a routine for success in the course is envisioned, share it with the students. Students who succeed are usually those who attend class regularly, ask questions, come to office hours and problem solving sessions, study outside class both alone and in study groups, seek to understand methods and overarching principles or concepts rather than specific answers, teach or tutor others, and discuss concepts informally with their fellow students.
In light of the varied backgrounds and expectations of students in most classrooms, it is essential that you know how to refer students to academic and other resources they are likely to need. Tutoring may be needed and expected