This piece was written by Caroline Contreras. Caroline is a student here on campus working to earn her Bachelor’s in Computer Science. Her goal is to one day become a competent back-end developer working on exciting projects. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, playing lots of Indie video games, and watching tech videos.
Professors everywhere would agree that having students actively engage in class makes teaching a heck of a lot easier. This is sadly not a reality in some cases. However, it is completely possible! There is no need to downright change the structure of your class or take drastic measures elsewhere, but instead implement a motivation for students to work harder. Let me explain.
During my time here on campus, I have noticed that professors who used some kind of treat to incentivize students to participate in class had much better results than those who didn’t. Speaking with a coworker on this topic, he fondly recounts the time a biology professor once made a chlamydia plush the prize for the first person to ace an exam. This small, but lighthearted prize proved to be enough motivation for the students in his class to put in their best efforts to win (imagine telling someone you won a chlamydia plush, that’s hilarious).
Even my own grades reflected positive reinforcement in prior classes. Whether it was my physics teacher in high school using jolly ranchers to my history teacher using fast food gift cards to incentivize our best efforts in Kahoot!, I can honestly say these methods do work. These were not only my favorite classes, but I passed with a solid A. Want some easy and quick ideas to make your class more engaging and fun? Use free programs such as Kahoot! and Quizlet. As a student myself I can guarantee you would have my attention. Use cheap, but fun knick knacks such as food shaped erasers or even Renegade swag as prizes. Anything that adds a little lightheartedness to your class would greatly be appreciated by your students, and in turn make the class more enjoyable and easier to participate in.