Although it is easy to dismiss lack of student attendance and engagement as a problem with the students or with individual professors, anecdotal evidence suggests that the problem is too common to blame on individual faculty members and too much of an opportunity for research to write it off as a problem with the students. When we fail to capture the imagination and interests of students, we must explore various options and opportunities for improvement. Of course, the introduction of changes can produce anxiety: what if the changes do not work or if the class goes horribly wrong? It can happen.

While these concerns are valid, it seems that they are no worse than comfortably teaching a less-than-compelling class. In other words, by undertaking new approaches to teaching, faculty will necessarily encounter some anxiety. However, the injection of some anxiety, some spontaneity, and lack of control might be the critical ingredients for capturing the interests of students. The classroom can become less mundane. As faculty, we need to continually seek new ways to approach the material. By doing so, we not only challenge ourselves to grow, but we also show students that it’s okay to make a mistake. We learn from those mistakes, which can remind us that teaching is really just another form of learning.


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