Dr. Sarah Grison is an associate professor of psychology at Parkland College and the coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. She is a coauthor of the introductory psychology textbook Psychology in Your Life, which was recently published in its Fourth Edition. This article was adapted from a virtual workshop, and the full recording can be requested here.
Over the past two years, classroom learning has evolved for students like never before. The proliferation of online learning combined with the stressors of the pandemic have left students feeling underprepared to begin college. In addition, students face mental health struggles, financial constraints, learning differences, and time management issues. It’s clear that instructors need to adapt their teaching styles to address students’ needs and set them up for success.
Dr. Sarah Grison, coauthor of Psychology in Your Life, has developed new tools to meet these challenges. With the release of the Fourth Edition of Psychology in Your Life, she introduces IMPACT, an innovative learning framework that uses the latest and most applicable learning science research to teach students how to learn. By reinforcing the IMPACT model, instructors can ensure that their class content is truly engaging students and helping them to succeed not just in the classroom, but in life as well.
Strategies from Sarah Grison to IMPACT Your Students’ Success:
- Improving – The foundational step in helping students adjust to college learning is to encourage a growth mindset in students. When students accept the idea that they can increase their skills and knowledge in areas that are challenging for them, they begin improving in all aspects of learning. Consider showing your students motivational videos on the topic of growth mindset or having them take a mindset survey to gain a better understanding of how they think about themselves.
- Monitoring – Time management has proven to be a real issue for many students, who may be juggling work, extracurricular activities, and family duties outside the classroom. The introduction of self-regulated learning into your classroom teaches positive time management skills to students, and includes goal-setting, study plans, and regular progress checks. A great way to introduce this strategy is by having your students begin their semester by setting a specific goal for what they want out of the course, and have them check in on their goals a handful of times throughout the semester.
- Practicing – Repeated practice over long periods of time and across class sessions is vital to student success. Bringing in activities that encourage attention, rehearsal, and repetition regularly will see students retaining information at higher frequencies for longer periods. Tactics such as low-stakes reading quizzes at the start of class or engaging competitive games can help students recognize patterns of strength or discrepancy in their learning and work to fix them.
- Attending – If you focus each lesson on a few key points and home in on those in a focused manner, students will have a better grasp on the overarching course topics and themes.
- Connecting – Learning cues and context clues can aid greatly in studying, so it is important that students create networks of association between core concepts and knowledge they have learned previously. Include callbacks to previous material learned in the course, or find moments to connect present coursework to concepts students mastered long before, and watch as they understand more deeply.
- Thinking deeply – To most effectively learn, students need to move beyond memorization. Research shows people learn best when they engage deeply with material, elaborating on concepts, explaining them in their own words, and connecting them to other lessons and themes. Instructors can help students think deeply by providing them tools to encourage this type of engagement. Have students find ways to continually apply the knowledge they are learning to their daily lifestyles, and allow them the space to realize how these concepts can have a positive influence on their own lives.
Dr. Grison’s IMPACT framework is integrated directly into her best-selling introductory psychology text, Psychology in Your Life. Adopters of Psychology in Your Life have access to a suite of support resources, including ideas to further implement IMPACT strategies into their courses.
Regardless of subject or textbook, all instructors can incorporate these learning science–based teaching tips into their own courses. The IMPACT strategies address the challenges all students encounter in the classroom. When these learning strategies are combined and synthesized into the classroom through activities, assignments, and progress checks, students will retain more knowledge, perform better on exams and assessments, and rediscover their love of learning.