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Go to Class or Go to the Beach?

The return from spring break kicks off the final weeks of the spring semester. Warmer, longer days are eagerly welcomed and made the most of by students around campus. Swimsuit season calls all students to the beach, a convenient mile from campus. Life at school doesn’t seem to get any more perfect than these last two months.

When this weather appears, many students tend to weigh the pros and cons of going to classes or heading to the beach for that afternoon sun. Based on personal experience, the latter of the two is usually the winner. What is a crucial deciding fator that influences this decision? Class style: is the class a lecture or is it handson? Sorry professors, but if your class involves an hour and 15 minute- or worse, two hours and 45 minute lecture, you lose. If the class is more hands-on and engaging, professors have a better chance of winning the student’s attention over the beach.

During my past three years at the University, I have been exposed to both styles of teaching in the classroom. I have sat through multiple tremendously tedious classes that have been solely lecture-style. Most of these were not even relevant to my major but were courses required by the University in order for me to graduate.

Note to professors: If you are aware that you stand or sit in the front of the classroom and lecture for an entire class period, consider a change in your teaching style. If you recognize a pattern in a lack of attendance in your classes, consider a change in your teaching style. From a student’s perspective, I prefer more hands-on engagement in the classroom. This prevents the temptation to check my phone for Facebook status updates and pictures of friends who are at the beach. Sometimes, students simply cannot tolerate sitting at our desks for more than an hour thinking only of the warm weather that we are missing.

Note to students: Of course, it is our responsibility to make a wise decision on warm days when we have afternoon classes and the sun rays are perfect for getting our bronzed glow or going for a walk for a Dunkin’ iced coffee. I can relate that many of us may even “save” our days to skip class. However, if your decision comes down to the class-style, level of engagement (or otherwise referred to as level of boredom), and the professor, consider offering the professor advice to changing the way he or she teaches the material.

I believe that students can learn so much more effectively if a class is hands-on. This practical approach allows us to be more engaged and focused on the material we are learning. It could also give professor a more secure feeling of their class attendance and can increase participation of the students. Lectures may be more time appropriate for classes that need to disseminate a lot of material within a short amount of time. However, professors can consider altering half of that speech for an in-class activity that teaches the same concepts.

As we wrap-up the final seven and a half weeks of the semester, I truly hope that more hands-on teaching approaches will be put into effect by professors. When a professor is competing with a sunny beach day, he or she needs to offer something more intriguing than a lecture.