By Brian J. White
Factors Impacting Learning – TIME
By Brian J. White
Attending Every Class
It is no surprise to parents and educators that certain identifiable factors are crucial in improving or mastering learning. Some include organization of the content (curriculum), readiness of the learner, as well as student factors such as effort, aptitude or attitude. The factor most easily manipulated for altering learning output is time, or as some label it – time on task.
There are many aspects of time that can be considered. Time of day is one example – when instruction takes place can show different results. The amount of time devoted to instruction and learning is the paramount aspect of this factor. The school, parents and community determine the amount of time to be devoted to learning. Typically, concerned parents extend and supplement this significant factor – it is a factor both measurable and controllable and with almost predictable causation.
Time controlled by the student is equally important. Expanding the time has many variations. Maximizing instructional time for students also has quality issues to anticipate. Focusing on the student’s role in maximizing time starts with student attendance at school and in class. Research in America indicates a direct correlation between learning and attendance. Many instructors use attendance, officially or unofficially, consciously or unconsciously, as part of the course grade.
What is frightening is that despite the research and the obviousness of this basic tenet, a casualness about attending class erodes student learning among bright and traditionally successful students and can become a habit and almost impossible to correct. Effort and motivation suffer. Attending class 100% of the time is what parents and teachers demand and have a right to expect. Who are the students that believe less time is better? Dare they argue that point? Let them speak, or just get in class!
Chinese students in America need to make quality use of time
Barriers such as language and culture face all international students. Chinese students gain by engaging in group study. But just studying with other Chinese students lessens the potential of group study. This is one reason WhoeRen prefers the home-stay model (such as offered by organizations like American Home Stays) when practical. Incorporating Americans into the group is mutually beneficial. The international students need to make a point of inviting American fellow students to study sessions. Try to balance the number of Americans and Chinese so all feel welcome. Be a salesperson to further participation. Just to review notes to ensure you heard and undertsood the instructor the same way the American students did will enhance your notes and reinforce your memory of what was covered in class (and improve language proficiency). All students who converse and participate will help clarify and enhance the learning for each member of the group. Be a leader and start a group. Be a leader and recruit peers to attend. This bonus time is why you are studying in America.
Time and Maximizing Learning
WholeRen encourages utilizing any and all support available. Many colleges offer help in writing centers, computer labs and tutoring centers – most likely free. If these are not accessible, WholeRen recommends formal arrangements through entities such as ASPIRE Pathway. The more times you hear the content, the more varied formats and exchanges, the deeper is your learning of what is being taught. Prioritize your time; when you are at your peak –study. Don’t use your “prime” time for socializing, video games or calling China. Earn your study breaks – schedule them if necessary. WholeRen has found that food, rest and exercise are the ingredients to maximize learning time- whether in class or after class.