How to Help Students Flourish Academically

Author: Rich Atkinson


Resilience Is Important

Psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D., researched why some students rebounded after failure while others floundered. She and her colleagues discovered that a “growth mindset” sparked a student’s motivation and achievement. In other words, “When students believe they can get smarter, they work harder.” 1 So, one way to help your students is to guide them to have the right attitude.

Help Students Flourish Academically

Help Students Maintain a Positive Mindset
The resilience of the student is important. A student can overcome a failure mindset by asking the question, “What can I learn from this poor test grade?” A few of the answers could be:

  • I can spend more time studying.
  • I can ask for help when I don’t understand something.
  • I can stop doing what is not working.

Consider what inventor Thomas Edison said as he searched for the right light bulb components:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 2

Besides maintaining a positive mindset like Thomas Edison, students need to know how to retrieve information from their teacher’s lectures and apply it for tests, quizzes, and life.

Help Students Succeed Through Recall
When educators flip a classroom by having students do assignments in class and screen a lecture at home, they encourage students to activate their brain’s retrieval system. The information students access in class cultivates what is important and why.

This is also true of the Cornell Note-Taking method. Notes are divided into segments for synthesis and review to aid learning. See the blog post, Taking The Mystery Out of Note-Taking.

Dr. Pooja Agarwal, an expert in the science of learning, highlights a similar method to train students for success on her website, Retrieval Practice. This includes giving sample quizzes on a weekly basis on the material you want them to ace. She suggests having the quizzes not count toward their grade or represent only a small percentage. Dr. Agarwal’s ten-year study showed that a four-minute quiz during class helped students retrieve information from past lessons and boosted students’ grades from a “C” to an “A.” 3

Agarwal lists three ways to implement “retrieval practice” in your classroom:

  • “Brain Dump:” Ask students to recall two things from a lesson.
  • Ask students what they learned from yesterday’s lesson.
  • Use think, pair, share in your course content.” 4

Think, pair, and share is a method where students write down a few things they have learned from a previous lesson. Then they pair up and share with a classmate.

For more information about a similar topic, check out the blog post Five Techniques to Help Students Overcome Test Anxiety.

1 – “Dr. Dweck’s research into growth mindset changed education forever.”

3 – Agarwal, Dr. Pooja. “Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning.” Keynote Speech for the SXSW EDU 2022.

4 – Twitter post @Pooja Agarwal #SXSWEDU March 7, 2022 from her Keynote speech: “Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning.”

About the Author

Rich Atkinson

Rich Atkinson began his writing career with a community paper in Ohio.

He has worked for a magazine. Travel assignments have taken him outside the country to Haiti and Guatemala. In the U.S., he has journeyed to Atlanta, Boston, Milwaukee, and many other places for feature stories.

When not writing, Rich finds time to read and enjoys listening to authors discuss writing on podcasts and in YouTube videos.

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