Getting Students Excited About Learning

By Tara Armstead, M.Ed.
Online Faculty, College of Education  

Red-headed girl looks at laptop

The school bell rings. You politely welcome and shake hands with every student walking into your classroom as an attempt to wake them up for the day. As you pull out your laptop (or notebook) to take attendance, you intentionally say the names of the students loud and with changing tones to attempt to get them to wake up for the day.

After attendance is done, you have what you think is an awesome activity to get the students up, moving and socializing to, again, attempt to get them to wake up and get excited to learn.

As they are working on this collaborative activity, you prove to them that you are a “cool” educator because you have some of their favorite songs in instrumentals playing in the background—as an attempt to get them to wake up and get excited.

Waking Students Up

As you have probably noticed, as an educator, it takes a little more elbow grease than most would think to get students actively engaged and excited to learn. Over the past few decades, there has been a lot of talk about how to better improve education and make sure that everyone is receiving an education that is equitable, quality and continuously stimulating.

However, bringing this about in education is more than just talk and occasional modifications in classroom activities; it starts with a clear understanding of how the brains of our students work and what they need to retain the information you provide them.

Creating Learning Opportunities

Without getting into an extreme level of detail, students learn best when the educational environment is centered on their declarative memory processes and activities that are connected through personal experiences and discussions or hypothetical scenarios (Degen, 2014).

In other words, students best retain and utilize classroom content when they have been guided through real-life connections and scenarios of the material that is built upon all year. This long-term memory building and real-life connection allows for a constant revisiting of the material so that it is never forgotten.

There are many parts of life that are a result of this type of learning, from the very simple and tedious ones of tying shoes and brushing teeth, to the very complex and strenuous methods of financial responsibility and defensive driving.

Helping Students Retain Knowledge

When students initially learn a concept in class and it is applicable and relevant to their lives, they are more likely to retain the information because it has drawn them in. What this means for educators is that they not only need to learn who the students are outside of academics, but also learn how to effectively reach the various learning styles within the congregation of students and build upon and scaffold lessons.

In a sense, educators are working harder to break bigger concepts and units into smaller ones that can be used throughout the school year and remembered for a lifetime.

Brain-based learning, at times, can be an intimidating conversation for educators because of the founding principles of the theory.

However, at the end of the day, brain-based learning is the concept of not teaching to the academic piece of the student in increments for success, but instead reaching and teaching to the whole being of the student continuously all year.

Doing so ensures that the information exchanged within the school year is seen as a prized possession for a lifetime, rather than a temporary deposit that will later be needed to pass a standardized test and quickly forgotten.

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Degen, R. J. (2014). Brain-Based Learning: The neurological findings about the human brain that every teacher should know to be effective. Amity Global Business Review, 915-23.

More About Tara:

Tara is an online full-time faculty member in the College of Education at Grand Canyon University. She is also a researcher and passionate writer. Tara has the spirit-led passion to write about spiritual topics as well as various topics in education such as bullying, classroom management, technology in an online classroom and the important traits and characteristics of being an effective educator in the field while combining faith and learning. She is currently working on her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.